Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What's A Self-Publishing Author To Do?

I've been collecting articles on self-publishing, and this post is an attempt to lay them out in some kind of meaningful order. They deal with conflicting attitudes toward the subject.

First off, The Real Costs of Self-Publishing a Book at Media Shift. I think a similar article appeared at last summer's IndieRecon. In a nutshell, this writer contends that self-publishing can cost from $3,600 to $37,000. (That's in round numbers.) The high end figure is for a book that needs a lot of editing and whose author has purchased reviews at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly Select, and BlueInk Reviews. Be sure to read some of the early comments on this article. I've read elsewhere to expect to pay around $1,000, anyway, but that's for a book that's not had much done for it in the way of professional editing or marketing or, probably, cover art and design.

The big expense for self-published writers is developmental editing, so finding a good editor is important. Jane Friedman's site offers 5 Ways to Find the Right Freelance Book Editor

Freaked out by the possible expense involved with self-publishing? Friedman has created a graphic describing the Key Book Publishing Paths that could help self-publishing authors come up with the best publishing plan for the money they have to spend.

Okay, so now you've spent your money and published your book. How many copies do you have to sell to Make a Self-Published Bestseller? Answer: A lot.

The future is no fun: Self-publishing is the worst got a lot of attention when it was published at Salon early last month. Again, interesting comments. This guy's self-publishing experience had barely begun, and he was already disappointed. A lack of understanding about how to market a self-published book looks to have been a factor here.

The Future Of Self-Publishing  deals with traditional writers' anxiety that self-publishing "is an awful lot  of work" and involves "a steep learning curve." The author, Suw Charman-Anderson, is realistic about  self-publishers' chances of getting reviews. "Access to book reviewers, for example," she says, "can be problematic for the self-published. At the very least it’s highly time-consuming to do the research into which reviewers read in your genre and which of those accept unsolicited books from self-published authors. At worst, there’s a whole swathe of reviewers who are simply out of reach of self-publishers." But she holds out hope that things will change, that eventually it will take less of self-published authors' time to get going and the financial burden of hiring freelancers will lessen if their careers move along faster.

So today's links suggest that for all the self-publishing angst being experienced now, there is still a chance that the self-publishing model will become more and more workable.


Ms. Yingling said...

Self published books are problematic for school libraries. I can't support e books quite yet, and paperbacks don't hold up. I generally buy through jobbers, who frequently don't have self published books, or even books from smaller publishers. Since many of the self published books I have read could benefit from professional editing, I don't know that I, as a school librarian, will be able to take the time needed to FIND good self published books. It's a dilemma.

Gail Gauthier said...

The fact that many self-published books could benefit from professional editing is a dilemma for all self-publishers, because so many readers think of the poorly done books as all there is in self-publishing.

In my reading on this subject, I think self-publishers are falling into two camps: 1. Those who feel that you come up with an idea and title, start marketing it right away, spend a few months writing, and then publish, and 2. Those who are really pushing for more professionalism in this type of publishing. These people are heavily promoting moving beyond having a friend read your manuscript to hiring trained, experienced editors for both developmental and copy editing, finding skilled people to provide quality covers, etc.

I think that when the dust finally settles, the self-published writers who become successful will be the ones who can afford the financial risk involved with putting a few thousand dollars, anyway, into every book. They will be the people who can afford to create a mini-publishing company for themselves with editors, artists, tech people. The writers without the money to do that will be shutout from self-publishing.