New Frontier Rising: Self Publishing

There is a new frontier coming along to the world of publishing: the new self publishing model.  It used to be self publishing was a fringe event that only the desperate did to get a book out, but more and more it’s becoming a place where even the smallest niche market can have a book aimed at them.  I’ve personally been working on my book for a while now, so as I’ve researched options I thought I might share a little of what I’ve found out.

Self publishing comes in basically two major forms: hire a company to be your publisher or become your own publishing company.  Neither way is wrong, it’s basically a matter of how much control do you want and how much profit are you willing to give up.

The first method of hiring a company to be your publisher is the most simple.  You can create an account at a company like Lulu.com which will then outright just print your book if it is just for you. Or depending on what you are willing to pay they will contract out editing work, cover design and even assign it an ISBN from their inventory to make it a ‘real book’.  If you want to sell the book at a physical store you are going to need an ISBN. Lulu can even do order fulfillment and shipping for you for your customers.  It all depends on what you are willing to pay for the service upfront and how much of your profit margin you are willing to give up.  Also it is important to note they will be the publisher, not you.

The second method of creating your own publishing company is much more involved but gives you complete control of the end product and costs, but its a lot more work. You will need to get a company name, register to get your own ISBN number, submit the data to get your CIP information, hire your own editor and contract out cover design.  Then get printer quotes and still decide on your distribution model.  Which can be either let the printer handle it for a fee or have them ship a few hundred books to your house and you can ship out each order.  The advantage in the second model is you are the publisher so you get to keep more of the money from each sale which makes your break even point a lot easier to achieve.  It’s also useful if you plan to publish more than one title since you can fix your mistakes from the first time.

Now complicating the mix is you can also have your book in an ebook edition.  Which basically consists of getting the file  in the correct format and selling it electronically.  That isn’t even an easy process since you need to decide how much security your want on the file and who you want to distribute it through.

Yet regardless of which method you choose or even if you use a regular publisher, the majority of the marketing work is going to be done by you the author.  You have a product and you are expected to sell it.  This is where I think most authors get uncomfortable.  We write things, we often don’t consider that some marketing is going to be required to sell it.  Since unless your a top tier author at a major publishing firm you are going to have to do the majority of the work.

So my advice more than anything else when you are considering self publishing is: can I sell my book?  If you can’t, don’t bother you will just lose money at it.  If you can, get writing and start pulling books from the library to learn more about publishing to choose the right model for you.

4 thoughts on “New Frontier Rising: Self Publishing”

  1. Regular publishers take a big cut and don’t leave a heck of a lot for the author. If you can get Indigo-Chapters to give your book some shelf space and are willing to work at promotion, self publishing is the way to go. At least it was before ebooks
    Actually, would anybody perhaps have an idea how ebooks might affect the distribution dynamics? Chapters becoming less important?

  2. I was looking at the iBook store, since more and more people have an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. It’s environmentally friendly (kinda) and it would keep the complexity low. However, they still require an ISBN number. I found that Lulu.com has an option for this, also.

    Another possibility is to produce an ePub file and put it out for download. In this case, the author will have to do all the marketing.

  3. I’ve been reading a lot about publishing and two things stood out from those readings. 1 – Seth Godin is no longer publishing traditional books. If there was ever a guy that’s at the forefront of marketing and publishing it’s him.

    2 – In the future physical books will be the refuge of the wealthy. The prices of ipads and kindles will drop and make them more readily available. Poorer countries will adopt them as the normal way of accessing the written word. Much in the same way that cell phone adoption in developing countries outpaces that of developed ones e-readers will be adopted. The unit cost of printing a physical book will only be for the wealthy countries.

  4. Good point some people are dropping the print option entirely. I would say that option is really only in the early stages of acceptance. A lot of people still like the idea of a actual book.

    But I suppose I will be testing that theory a bit since I plan on publishing ebook and regular book editions at the same time next year.

    Joseph – Just a note on your comment. The cost of printing a book is actually damn cheap (even with small runs because of digital print technology). So the cost really isn’t the issue, but rather the business model of moving those books to stores and then if you don’t sell them having to issue refunds to stores. The savings of ebooks is your distribution chain is just an internet access, so no real cost for the publisher other than a shopping cart being added to the site and processing payments.

    Tim

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