A few years ago, the only route to publishing was traditional publishing. In order to get the attention of a traditional publisher, the usual recommended drills are a ‘stand out’ query letter, a well-established literary agent, an edited copy of the manuscript and a cover for the book designed by book cover designers. Although the process looks less complicated and hassle-free, the reality is contrary to this perception. The chances of impressing a literary agent is one out of five thousand and once an author crosses this most difficult barrier, he/she is offered a cheque ranging from twenty thousand dollars to fifty thousand or even 100,000 dollars depending on their conviction that they could sell copies to a tune of even bigger amount as we cannot overlook their profit margin. If you are one of the fortunate authors who are successful in receiving a cheque from a reputed publishing company then you are on your way to make a living out of authoring.
Having just set foot inside the authoring business, I am not sure if I should regard self-publishing option as a blessing in disguise or not. Self-publishing makes every author’s dream come true. If he writes a presentable book, whether the book gets picked up by a traditional publisher or not, it becomes available in the market due to several self-publishing platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing for Amazon Kindle, CreateSpace for print, Kobo for Kobo, Draft2Digital for iBook and Nook’ retailers and Ingram Spark, etc., some of which offer the facility of uploading books for free while others require a small fee. No author would want to upload their books without protecting their work which means he/she would have to pay for the copyright and ISBN (combined cost $250). Let me tell you this from experience, the process of uploading on the free platforms or most such platforms are a herculean task. If you are expecting some sales, you have to spend for marketing, which ranges between $200-600 if you choose to use the advertising campaigns provided by Kindle Amazon, Goodreads etc.
Self-publishing companies are like dogs in their ability to sniff out a first-time author. They never take a ‘no’ for an answer and would offer a first-time author even up to 50% discount on their self-publishing packages. Situations does not look that bleak to an author who chooses to spend roughly around $2500-2600, and in return, experiences a sense of pride, happiness and achievement on seeing their books while browsing on the internet on almost all available online book selling platforms and retailers’ websites and receiving promotional materials which usually comprises of 100 post cards with your book cover on it and the blurb at the back, 100 business cards and 30 copies of printed book. In addition to this, the author signs a contract according to which the former receives 40% royalty and 60% royalty goes towards the publishing company for the sales of each copy of the book, be it print or e book. The cost of self-publishing package does not include editing and though the package includes marketing the book to a certain extent, they try to talk a first-time author into spending thousands and thousands of dollars for a world wide marketing campaign.
Fortunately, hours of research done before taking the leap, prevented me from blindly spending $7,000-$9000 for marketing as reliable websites on book publishing informed me that if it was a self-publishing venture one should not spend more than $5,000. I also realised that the publishing company I had dealings with could have just uploaded my book on Ingram Spark for just $49 dollars, which makes the product available on most of the online and retail book stores’ websites. Publishing companies try to swindle first-time authors as they bank on their ignorance and desire for fame and fortune. By the time, any author moves on to his/her second publishing venture he/she learns a lot about the publishing business consciously or unconsciously and it becomes extremely difficult for publishing companies to rip them off. While reading this blog, questions could arise in the minds of the readers whether the book was worthy of credit or not. I can assure you it is and it is not without evidence I would make such a bold statement. For the thirty printed books I promoted through a giveaway, which I had received as promotional material, I received 5 star reviews from 22 of my readers spread across Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the United States fetching me an average rating of 5 on Goodreads.
Why write books if it’s a drain on one’s purse? First of all, it is a feat that can be achieved only with dedication and discipline. Secondly, whether monetarily one has reaped the benefits or not, one establishes himself/herself as an author. When I gained the ‘Goodreads Author’ status I felt like I was in cloud nine. My 26,000 words venture was an effort that did not go without recognition. A few acquaintances, who received printed copies from me, provided me positive verbal reviews on the completion of reading my “Roman a clef” as they liked to call it. As far as statistical information goes, my investment in self-publishing should fetch me some returns even if it is not a significant/staggering amount. Interviews, articles, audio books etc., there are innumerable ways in which funds could be generated yet the publishing companies prefer to function as extortionists.
An eye-opening experience. And being a fast learner, I decided to save myself from being swindled by establishing a publishing company for my own pursuits. I even succeeded in obtaining an Australian Business Number. I may or may not resort to traditional publishing for my future enterprises and I could always generate monetary benefits through re-editions under my own banner. Call this venture trial and error or a learning curve, it offers the opportunity to develop and expand oneself and in the long run be remembered by posterity.