Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today, I am pleased to bring you this post from the North American side of the Atlantic. I’m chilling out with my family in Nova Scotia, stuffing my face with lobster and blueberries. For this reason, I may be somewhat tardy responding to comments, but I’ll try my best between the mouthfuls!
Many of us are at different stages of our publishing journeys, from contemplating self-publishing to being experienced indie writers. As I posted previously, I recently gave a presentation on the pros and cons of taking the route towards traditional publishing or deciding to self-publish. I thought I’d give an overview here, and I’d love to hear your input, too! Although I realise both sides of the spectrum stir up a lot of emotion, I tried my best to present an objective view based on numbers.
Agent/ Bigger Publisher:
PROS: Chance of greater print distribution; more marketing support; professional editing and cover design team; career advice from industry professional (agent).
CONS: May not get agent; agent may not sell MS; publisher may not secure distribution; novel may not get marketing support; low royalties; long timelines (at most, one book a year).
- Pay a one-off fee to editor/ cover designer and keep the profits, as opposed to getting a royalty on every copy
- Formatting ebooks is simple once you get the hang of it: not worth paying royalties to avoid the hassle.
- Control over timelines: ability to publish when I want without waiting for: a. An agent to possible sell my book; or b. A publisher to fit it into their schedule.
- Ebook sales are now overtaking print sales: print distribution is becoming a moot point.
- Stigma towards self-publishing is changing as more and more mid-list authors previously traditionally published decide to go it alone.
- Self-publishing and traditional publishing not mutually exclusive: many self-published authors now being signed by publishers on the basis of their success. Many traditionally published authors do both now.
CONS: Finding editor and cover designer; learning to format; getting educated on electronic distributors; little to no print distribution; dealing with the prevalent stigma; stepping away from ‘the dream’.
The Current State of Self-Publishing
- Taleist survey of 1,007 self-published authors says the average yearly earning in 2011 was 10K
- Half of writers earned less than $500
- Romance writers earned 170% more than peers
- Worst earners were science fiction and literary
- Highest earners wrote 2,047 words a day
- Traditionally published authors earned 2.5 times more when self-publishing than rejected authors or authors who went straight to self-publishing
- Self-publishers who received help with story editing, copy editing and proofreading made 13% more than the average.
- Help with cover design upped earnings by 34%.
The Current State of Traditional Publishing
Website ‘Show Me the Money’ uses author-provided data to track publishers’ advances
◦ Avon/ Harper Collins: Average advance (first book): $18,600 Median: $9000. Print: 8%; Ebook: 25% (net).
◦ Grand Central (Warner/Hachette): Average advance (first book): $7100 Median: $6000. Print: 8%.
◦ Kensington/ Zebra: Average advance (first book): $3500 Median: $3000. Print: 8%; Ebook: 25% (net).
◦ St Martin’s Press: Average advance (first book): $18,500 Median: $7500. Print: 7.5-10%; Ebook: 25% (net).
2012 Survey of 300+ traditionally published authors by Writer’s Workshop:
◦ 75% rate their editorial input as good or excellent
◦ 3/5ths were satisfied with cover and jacket design
◦ 33% weren’t consulted on marketing; 31% were marginally involved.
◦ 38% – the highest percentage –didn’t even notice a marketing campaign.
◦ Half felt communication was poor or tailed off abruptly after publication
◦ 45% (highest percentage) says their publisher never solicited feedback.
◦ 40% said if another reputable publisher offered the same advance, they’d move.
So… should you self-publish?
- Do you have a novel you believe in? Is it a practice novel, or something you (and others besides friends and family) feel is ready for the light of day?
- Are you willing to invest financial resources into editing and cover design?
- Are you willing to invest time to promote on social media?
- Are you prepared to educate yourself about the industry?
- Are you independent and open-minded? Flexible and able to move quickly?
- Are you looking at self-publishing as part of a career plan, and not just a get-rich-quick scheme or because of frustration?
What have I missed? In hindsight, would you change the path you’ve chosen?