For an author, self-publishing is a clear path to freedom. Freedom from agents, freedom from low royalties and, most importantly, the freedom to publish the book and the message you truly want to share with the world.
That said, self-publishing’s solitary path isn’t made of rose petals either. Self-publishing has its advantages as well as its drawbacks. In the end, it’s a great fit for some people, but it’s not for everyone, and that’s okay.
Today I’d like to share with you five surprising facts that you may not know about self-publishing, as well as some practical questions if you’re considering the self-publishing path.
Sales Potential Is Low
The average self-published book only sells 250 copies over the course of its lifetime. While some books will sell more and other will sell less, at the end of the day, that’s still just not a lot of copies for all of the effort that goes into writing and publishing a book. Also, keep in mind that bookstores generally won’t carry self-published books.
If you want your self-published book to earn above average marks and sell more than just 250 copies, then you must be honest with yourself: What are you prepared to do to make sure that it sells more than the 250 mark?
The Competition Is Fierce
There are more and more books being published all the time. In 2016, nearly 800,000 ISBNs were issued to self-published authors. More than 500,000 were issued for print books on Amazon’s CreateSpace alone. Now consider for a moment that Amazon’s Kindle Publishing doesn’t require the use of ISBNs for ebooks, and that Amazon has more than 5 million ebooks available (and the number is rising all the time). No matter what format your book is in, that’s simply a lot of books to compete with! Do you feel prepared to take on all that competition by yourself?
The Market Has Its Limits
More books are being published than ever, but there are more books available than readers can actually read. And not only that, but book sales in the US (and other markets) is shrinking.
Print book sales are declining every year and ebook sales haven’t matched their 2013 high. There are more authors offering books for sale than ever today, but today’s pie of readers isn’t growing fast enough to absorb all of those extra books.
How will you and your self-published book successfully stand out to claim some of that pie?
Welcome to Authorpreneurship
In traditional publishing, the publisher does the lion’s share of the marketing (or at least it used to be that way, as traditional publishers expect authors to take on more and more marketing responsibility these days). But as a self-publisher, the marketing duties fall squarely on your shoulders.
Lots of self-published authors make the mistake of focusing on the writing, but not on the business of being an author. They don’t know anything about metadata, so they don’t use it to their advantage. Many don’t even get choosing the categories right on Amazon. So no one ever finds their book. And then comes the heavy lifting: actually compelling people and their wallets into action. It’s not easy to convince people to buy and read a book. Ask yourself: How many books have you bought in the last week?
An authorpreneur going it alone could easily spend 10% of his time writing and 90% of his time marketing.
Be honest with yourself: Do you want to spend most of your time on book marketing?
Amateur vs. Professional
I’ve been talking a lot about book sales here, but the truth is that not everyone wants to sell their book. Writing and publishing a book can be a great personal project that’s easy and fun to do – as long as you’d just like to share a few copies of your book with family and friends.
However, if you want your self-published book to be taken seriously by people who don’t already love you, then you’ll need to become a professional publisher, even if you’re only publishing your own work.
There’s a lot to learn and a lot to do to ensure that your book meets even the minimum standards that readers expect. Are you ready to become your own professional publishing pro?
A Trusted Publisher and Resource
In this day and age, authors don’t need to go it alone. Hybrid publishing combines the best of two worlds: traditional publishing and self-publishing.
For more information about hybrid publishing and Dudley Court Press’ author support and publishing programs, please get in touch at +1-520-329-2729 or publisher@DudleyCourtPress.com.