Traditional publishers receive your book, occasionally pay you an advance, edit it, send you the galleys to proof read, offer you the choice between two or three possible covers, find an illustrator for you if it needs one, hire the illustrator, publish it in a year or so, calculate the number of books sold, and issue you a royalty check. Nowadays you are also expected to assist in the marketing, but in reality, it's up to you in regards to what and how much you do.
Self-publishing is much different. You write, edit, proof, arrange for an illustrator for the cover art or the illustrations, hire the illustrator, review all the illustrations, format the book or hire a self-publishing company to do it for you, market the book, sell copies on your website and through retail outlets, keep an accurate record of sales and income for the IRS, and cash your checks. That's a lot of work.
So, why when there is so much work involved in self-publishing, would anyone want to self-publish? I can think of five main reasons. They are time, ownership, and profits.
- Time: You can move at your own pace. There is no pressure to meet specific deadlines. You work your way through the publishing process when you have the time to commit to it.
- Ownership: It is your book. You own it. You have the rights, and you can produce it anyway you want to. Nothing is left up to a third, fourth, or even fifth person to make the decision on the title, the illustrations, the marketing strategy, or whatever. You make all the decisions, and you won all the rights.
- Profits: Traditional publishing houses rarely offer an advance on sales to new authors, and the usual royalty contract is for 5-10 percent of the net. The net is what is left after publishing expenses, the publishers operating costs and profit, discounts to retailers, returned books, left over books, etc. In some cases, you are lucky to get 10 cents a book. However, by self publishing, you are the one who reaps the rewards. It must be noted, though, that there are ebook publishers out there who take over a major portion of publishing your book and willingly give you 50 percent of the net. It is an option if you find a publisher willing to add your book to their line.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you check out all the options. Publishing is changing, and it is impossible to make a decision on whether to self-publish or not until you research all the possibilities. For me, my next book is being self-published, but I am not sure where I will go with the rest. All I know is that I have a lot of options to consider. You do too.