Before I released my first book, Lunara: Seth and Chloe, I had to decide if I wanted to traditional publish or self-publish. Traditional publishing was always my thought when I wrote my books, but I never had any visions of anyone ever reading them in a mass scale. I did send my manuscript to a few of the publishers and received a cookie-cutter letter back. I hadn't edited the book however and I thought it was being rejected because it wasn't up to their standards. Immediately, I found an editor, and for free, he suggested a few minor tweaks to the books, which I'll admit, were good and I redid some it.
I still had a nagging feeling the book wasn't good enough for the traditional publishers so I paid a good sum to have it edited and polished. After a half dozen weeks, I received my final version of the book and I was ready to resend it. But after I read it and saw how great it looked, I hesitated sending it. I even had my envelopes labeled and ready to go. My first thought was...is there a way for me to cut out the wait to market? I scoffed at the idea because I had grown up thinking every book needs a publisher. So I sent a couple letters out. Back came the canned replies and they said they would evaluate it but it could be a six to eighteen months. TOO LONG. It was time for me to take action and choose my destiny.
I self-published a month later and are some observations about why it was a better choice:
1) Control. My number one reason for self-publishing is the control I have over every aspect of the book. I get to approve the final version, I get to develop the cover and approve it, and finally, I don't have anyone telling me what is best for my series. I'm the creator so I probably know how to best present my series.
2) Greater Revenue. I never published to make money with the series, but I would like to repay the debts I incur with publishing a book. My main goal is to present my writings to everyone and share my visions of a great world. I've read that trad. published writers get between 7-15% royalties....unless you're a super star like Stephan King. Self-publishing can generate between 35% to 80% royalties...that is a gigantic difference.
3) Almost Equal Marketing. Ask any self-published writer and their number one complaint is the unending promoing of your book or series. You have to do it all, all the time. Well, guess what, if you're a new writer for a traditional publisher you get a press release and maybe a few book signings and some ads on their websites for about a month. Then if you don't tell hundreds of books and become an instant star, you're in the same boat as a self publisher, you have to sell you own book at 7-15% royalties plus you have to buy your books from the publisher. Nothing like being left in the cold. I'd rather fail myself than rely on someone else to keep me from failing.
4) Doubts. I wrote a previous blog about this but a big challenge with self-publishing is the stigma among readers about purchasing an unknown author and worse, a self-published writer. Lots of self-publishing is poorly edited or rejected for a reason. I decided to overcome this by offering the first book in the series for free. I thought if someone gave my series a shot, they would enjoy the rest for a price. This strategy has proved to be a winner as all sorts of scifi and non-scifi readers have enjoyed my freebie ebook, SETH AND CHLOE. Its one of the more challenging things for indies and I long for the maturation of self-publishing when the quality can rise to the top.
5) Pricing. I control the price of my book. Eliminated is the overhead of the traditional publisher. I price my books at $.99 and $2.99 and eliminate the markup readers pay for a traditional book. Readers are basically paying an extra $5 to $10 for the traditional publishers to pay for editors, marketers for the bigger authors, admins, and distributors. My book prices pay the author and my selling service (amazon, barnes and noble, etc.). From me, readers get the same quality for a third of the price.
I'll keeping adding to the list as my experience evolves. There are more great reasons by the day and I will always be glad I self-published over relying on someone else to get my books to the world. Its been fun every second (expect some of the shameful promos). If my series becomes big enough and a traditional publisher come calling, maybe I'll listen, but giving up my creative control would be extremely hard at this point.
Enjoy my series and give an indie author a chance. You might be surprised.