With the boom in the availability of ebooks and print on demand production, it’s important to understand just what it is you’re being offered if you sign up for a self publishing package. While it’s important to know what you’re paying for, it’s also important to understand what’s not included in your self publishing package. And the best way to help you work out what to look for is to highlight the differences between traditional publishing and self publishing:

  • Traditional publishers or publishing houses take all the (financial) risk while the self publisher has to put his money where his mouth is and pay for the development of his own book. 
  • Traditional publishers take care of the book’s development and creation (in consultation with the author), while the self publisher has to consider undertaking (or outsourcing) the many tasks involved himself. These tasks will include editing, proofreading, book layout and formatting, cover design, assigning an ISBN, legal deposit registration or Library of Congress registration, and more.
  • Traditional publishers have a supply chain or distribution network which helps them get your print book into bookshops while the self publisher will usually find this a very expensive, time-consuming and, ultimately, unworthwhile process.
  • Traditional publishers will pay the author approximately 10% (starting point, often for the first 2,000 copies) of the RRP (recommended retail price) for each print book sold, and varying percentages for each ebook sold, but often limited to 25%. The self publisher will receive a much higher proportion of sales revenue from each book sold, (sometimes as much as 89% of the RRP for ebooks), depending on where and how it is sold.
  • If a traditional publisher is really keen to have a particular book on their list, they may pay the author an advance. The self publisher receives no income until a certain level of sales are made.
  • Traditional publishers will have connections and a marketing plan for your book, although it will still be up to the author to actually ‘sell’ his book. The self publisher needs to work out their own marketing plan and execute it.

Self publishing delivers a great freedom for many writers. They can write what they want, the way they want, and bring it to market more quickly than a traditional publisher might. However, having a traditional publisher who understands the market place, how to develop your book so it has the best chance of selling, and where and how to place your book, can often mean the difference between three sales and three thousand – or more!

But getting a publisher to take your book on is often just not possible, and these days it’s getting harder. Don’t be mad at the publishers, though. They’re in business, and to stay in business, they need to make a profit. If they feel your book isn’t likely to make them a profit, then they will decline it, no matter how interesting, original or well written it may be.

So if you find that you’re forced to walk the self publishing path, walk it with pride, and with knowledge. Find out everything you can about self publishing – with the internet and the huge volume of information available these days, you have no excuses for not being well informed! And then sally forth and stand behind your book.

If your book is successful and starts bringing you a little income, develop another and then another, and enjoy your new income stream.

For more information, visit our IndieMosh site for Australian self publishers: http://www.indiemosh.com.au/

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