Why Self-Publish A Book?


Audrey:  This is a C&P article written by successful author Denise George who has published 32 books by traditional publishers.  This only contains excerpts from her article.  This article will only be of interest to writer's who are considering which way to go, a traditional publisher or self-publishing.   This article addresses the "old days" of publishing and "today's choices." for publishing a book.  The italicized words are comments I have added.

Denise George:  Let’s look at some of the past problems self-publishing books produced:

Problem 1: The Headache: Vanity presses and self-publishing systems charged an arm and a leg to publish an author’s book. Some charged a considerable amount of money. The writer had to pay the publisher to print the book, design the cover and spine, and bind it. He had to buy a certain number of copies (decided by the publishing company), and somehow sell them all himself. The self-publisher or vanity press might require the author to buy as many as 5000 or more books as part of the publishing deal.  (Probably talking about John Grisham)  The company approached the author with various services, such as promotion, proofreading, editing, etc. Each of these services could be bought individually, and each usually came with a hefty price tag.  I’ve known people to spend anywhere from $15,000 to $90,000 to self-publish and promote one book! These self-published authors stacked up the 5,000 or more copies they had to buy (as part of the self-publishing deal), and wondered how in the world they would ever sell them all. More than one self-published author had to sell books from the trunk of his car!  Not only did the entire self-publishing process give the author a lasting headache, but most writers were less than pleased with the final published book.

Problem 2: The Poor Quality: Many authors discovered that when their manuscripts came back from these self-publishing and vanity presses bound and printed in book form, the publishing quality was awful. The presses used cheap thin paper, and numerous typos and errors filled the pages. One friend of mind spent $20,000 to have a vanity press print his book, and he felt so ashamed of the poor quality and number of typos in the book, he was embarrassed to give them away—much less sell them.I believe a writer’s main job is to write. But with no one helping to promote the book, advertise it, sell it to customers, package and ship the book to the buyer, and handle all the billings and payments, the author had little time to write the next book. All the business work of getting the book to the buyer ate up his writing time.

Problem 3: The Book Promotion: In the “old days,” the self-published author usually did everything but print and bind the book. The vanity press printed and bound the book and received their money. And unless the author paid for other offered services, the publisher had finished his job. Most vanity presses cared little if the author ever sold the books or not.After the author sold a few copies to his family members and friends, he had no clue how to interest a larger populace into buying his books. He became the “lone ranger” trying to sell the thousands of books stacked up in his garage.

But the Good News Is …The “old days” are gone! Today, self-publishing is a whole new ballgame! But before you even think about self-publishing your book, please do your research, finding out everything you can about the new wave of self-publishers. It will save you headaches, heartaches, and probably thousands of dollars! You can’t even imagine how good the news is now about self-publishing!

Self-Published Books Are Sometimes Picked Up and Published by Traditional Publishers  Some self-published books have been re-published by traditional publishers and many of them brought in tremendous sales. Self-published books will catch the eyes of a traditional book publisher when the book sells as few as 2000 copies. Consider these self-published books:* What Color Is Your Parachute: Episcopal clergyman, Richard Nelson Bolles, originally self-published the best-selling book: What Color Is Your Parachute? A traditional publisher took notice of the book, picked it up and published it. Since then, the book has been printed in more than 22 editions, 11 languages, and has sold more than 6 million copies. It spent 288 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list.*The Christmas Box: Rick Evans wrote and originally self-published his 87-page book: The Christmas Box. He promoted it and sold it himself. Simon & Schuster (a traditional publisher) offered Evans $4.2 million for the rights to his Christmas book. It was the largest royalty advance ever paid to an individual (at that time) for a self-published book. It hit the top of the Publishers Weekly best-seller lists, was translated into 13 languages, and became a popular film.*In Search of Excellence: Tom Peters wrote and self-published his book In Search of Excellence. He sold more than 25,000 copies of his book himself. The traditional publisher, Warner, took notice, bought the book rights from Peters, and then sold 10 million more books.*The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. Warner Books offered Redfield a royalty advance of $800,000 for the publishing rights. It became a best-seller.* The One-Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. William Morrow offered to buy the book-publishing rights, selling more than 12 million copies in 25 languages.* The Elements of Style by Williams Strunk, Jr and E. B. White. Ten million copies sold after a traditional published bought the self-published book’s publishing rights. The book still sells more than 300,000 copies each year.* Sugar Busters: Four Louisiana medical doctors and a former CEO originally self-published Sugar BustersThey sold 165,000 copies themselves in just a year and a half. Ballantine Books bought the book-publishing rights. Sugar Busters! sold more than 2 million copies, went into its 49th printing, and spent 192 weeks on best-seller lists. We need never underestimate the sales potential of a self-published book.

What Are Some Advantages of Self-Publishing a Book? Total Control: The author keeps total control of the entire book publishing process—from start to finish. You choose the size of the book, the layout, the page design, the word/page total, if you want photographs or not. You also choose the title, design the book cover, and write front/back cover informational blurbs. It’s literally your baby! No one tells you what to do. No one changes your title and sub-title. Publishes Quickly: A self-published book can be printed/published in weeks rather than the years it can take for a traditional publish to release it. Traditional publishers need at least one or two years, after they receive the finished manuscript, to edit, proofread, design, print, promote, etc. It takes a village to publish a book with a traditional publisher. And a long length of time. No Book Proposal Needed: A self-published book goes to press without the need to sell it to a traditional publisher’s entire department. Publishers require book proposals (usually never the finished manuscript) in order to make a decision to publish the manuscript or not. Book proposals can take weeks to think through, plan, and write. Oftentimes, the author can wait many months/years to receive a traditional contract. The book proposal is (usually) sent to only one publisher at a time. If the publisher rejects the book proposal, the author must then send the book proposal to a new publisher and the long wait begins all over again. Self-Published Books Can Be More Time-Sensitive: The brief time needed to self-publish a book means that you can write about more current and timely topics. When the traditional publisher finally releases the book (could be 2-4 or more years), the topic might already be sitting on the back-burner of society. There are certainly many advantages to self-publishing a book instead of going with a traditional publisher. On the other hand, going with a traditional publisher presents many advantages and wonderful perks than the self-publisher ever could.

Audrey:  Today, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and others offer system/software to upload a book.  However, it must be formatted in EXACTLY the way it will appear in the printed or ebook.  Formatting the manuscript to be uploaded is the hardest part of the process to me.

Even after going through the rigorous process for a traditional publishing house to accept a manuscript, only a tiny amount of them are accepted.

Thanks to the wise words of Denise George, I hope this article will help a "new author" make up their mind about traditional publishers or whether to become a self-publisher.