Here are three publishing myths that need to be examined:
Publishing Myth #1:
Anyone can publish and sell a high-quality book today.
As the once staid and predictable publishing industry has been turned inside out because of new technologies, misconceptions abound about how anyone can publish a book today. While you’ll often hear that it’s easy for anyone to publish a book today, what you don’t hear is how challenging it is to publish and sell a professional quality book.
There are wonderful technologies and online publishing resources that make it so easy to print real books that kindergartners do it. If you want to publish a book for family and friends, or just to keep on your shelf, you can. No problem.
However, if you are writing your book to share more broadly with the world and/or because you intend to sell your book, it’s critical to recognize that the amateur approach is not your best option.
Think of it this way:
- Just because you can apply paint to canvas doesn’t mean your finished product belongs in the Louvre.
- Just because you can sing and dance a bit doesn’t mean you are ready for Broadway.
- Just because you put 40,000 words together in a Word document doesn’t mean your book is ready for the marketplace, or is destined for the best-seller lists.
If there were an Author/Book version of America’s Got Talent, how many of the thousands of authors who would audition would make it through to the Top Ten?
Ok. That was a trick question.
The answer, of course, is ten.
But think on this: millions of new books are published every year. Most of them never sell more than 100 copies.
Amazon alone adds nearly 200,000 new titles every single month!
How will anyone even find your book?
It is NOT easy to publish a high-quality book, and it is NOT easy to sell ANY book today.
There are ways to improve your chances of success, of course, and here at Dudley Court Press, we help our authors get closer to a spot on the live show, so to speak.
But please don’t fall for the myth that the publishing path is an easy one.
Publishing a book well takes great attention to detail, requires professional standards for the editorial and design elements, involves a broad understanding of industry requirements and demands an appreciation of the entire design, printing, distribution, and marketing aspects of book publishing today.
If you don’t want your book to look amateurish, get professional help.
Publishing Myth #2:
Anyone can publish a quality book at no or low-cost today.
Do you want to publish a book you can be proud of? One that reflects your professional stature? A book that can hold its own next to traditionally published books from big New York publishers?
Well, you can’t do that for free.
Here’s what you need to publish a successful, meaningful book:
- You need professional editing so that the book reads well and will generate positive reviews.
- You need professional design work for the cover and the interior.
- You need to be certain of the size and presentation of the book – that it conforms to what your audience expects.
- You need to know what you’re doing in terms of metadata.
- You need to get your book into databases and distribution and sales channels, unless you intend to sell only from the trunk of your car.
- You need to market your book.
All of the above require resources – time, talent and knowledge – that cost money. As with most things, you get what you pay for. Spending a lot does not guarantee a successful book, but ignoring key requirements in book production and discoverability, for example, will guarantee low or no sales.
Exceptional authors understand this, and do the research necessary to find the right partners to help them do all of the above well.
Publishing Myth #3:
Publishing a book is a fast, sure road to riches.
Let’s bust that myth fast.
Even among well-established writers, advances from their traditional publishers have dropped significantly in recent years. Advances that used to be in the $100,000 or $50,000 range have dropped significantly even for these well-known authors. Sometimes the advances from traditional publishers are as low as $5,000 today, for established authors!
And fewer authors are brought into traditional publishing houses today with those old-fashioned contracts. Major publishing houses want blockbuster titles from popular authors and celebrity authors.
Even to be considered by a traditional publisher today, an author has to demonstrate a vast, solid audience already in place. If you don’t have that, you’ll be wasting your time looking for a traditional publisher.
Authorearnings.com scrapes data from Amazon to provide reports about author earnings from book sales on Amazon. While their numbers don’t include non-Amazon book sales, it’s some of the best data we have available to approximate author earnings.
Some will hype the data that shows that over 1000 indie authors are making $50,000 a year or more in books earnings on Amazon alone!
What they don’t point out is that, with over 2 million new titles added each year, the percentage of authors who make much money is miniscule.
Let’s assume all authors contribute two new titles a year, so the number of authors represented would be a million. That means that just one-tenth of one percent of authors are making $50k or more from their Amazon sales…that’s .001 in decimal terms…that isn’t a lot folks!
Very few authors enjoy a financial return on their investment in writing and publishing a book.
To recoup the investment in a book, you and your publisher depend on the profits from book sales. The profit margin on a book depends on the decisions about manufacturing and distribution. And pricing is quite sensitive to the marketplace.
There are ways to cover costs and for many authors, the return comes from more than just book sales or royalties. At my company, Dudley Court Press, we work closely with our authors to maximize the potential for financial and non-financial returns.