By Anne Garboczi Evans
So earlier this month, I wrote about self-publishing and mentioned a 5,000 dollar price tag as one of the drawbacks. I got my facts from editors at established publishing houses who spoke at the writer’s conference I’d been to just a few weeks before.
Guess what? Traditional publishers are not experts on self-publishing. After publishing my article, I spoke to several Indie authors from the Christian Indie Authors Facebook group who have dozens or even hundreds of books out. They said they spent as little as zero to a couple hundred dollars to bring each book into print. Createspace, the self-publishing arm of Amazon, charges nothing to bring both your e-book and paperback out in print. You only have to pay for editing your book and cover art.
My jaw dropped. Where in the world were traditional publishers getting this 5k figure then? Terri Main, a self-pubbed author with dozens of books in print, explained it to me as the difference between a Mercedes and more affordable modes of transportation. Both will get you from point A (written manuscript) to point B (published manuscript), but the Mercedes will cost a ton more. Random House can afford the Mercedes, but most self-pubbed authors can’t.
I also learned that not all genres are created equal when it comes to self-publishing. With some exceptions, self-published non-fiction doesn’t sell well. Perhaps this is because people want a publishers’ stamp of approval on their non-fiction to ensure they’re getting the right facts. Or maybe they’re more likely to look in a brick and mortar store for non-fiction, rather than browse Amazon.
As a rule, self-pubbed romances sell extremely well. Of course, romances in general sell really well and romance readers are avid consumers who read multiple books a month. The jury’s still out on self-pubbed picture books. Some authors have said they’ve done really well with picture books, while others have said its a hard market to self-publish in.
So I’d like to apologize to all my author friends for spreading the false 5k figure in my last post. These days, you can self-publish for cheap and make money off of it.
Besides the technology that has cut down the costs of self-publishing, there’s another driving force behind the self-pubbing wave. Because of the economy, traditional publishers are pushing author marketing more and more.
Before signing on a new author, publishers want him to have a huge social media following, a successful blog, and a ten page marketing plan. Is it any surprise that once an author has all that in place she might think, “Hmm, I could just market this book myself.”