Until a few weeks ago, I had completely dismissed the idea of self-publishing my work. I’d heard of a few success stories, sure, but I felt very attached to the idea of having my memoir published by a traditional publishing house. I knew the odds were good that I’d barely make any money that way. But hey, writers shouldn’t expect to make money from their work, right? We write because we love it, and that’s all that matters.
That’s what I kept telling myself even after I found out that most new authors never even earn out their average $5,000 advances and only make about 10% of royalties after they do. I still believed that traditional publishers had the power to make me a “legitimate” writer with a nationally distributed book, and that self-publishing couldn’t provide that. Turns out, I was wrong.
I started doing some research, and purchased the ebook, “Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should” by David Gaughran, which I highly recommend. I discovered that self-publishing is becoming an increasingly legitimate and profitable pathway for writers to publish their work. Not only do you get to keep around 70% of your book’s royalties, but you retain full control over the content, the cover, and the book’s distribution. And, with ebooks, you don’t even have to worry about printing costs and distribution. Anyone with an internet connection can read your work.
Yes, I will agree that allowing people to publish anything does launch a lot of work into the literary canon that probably has no place there. But it’s up to us as readers to figure out what’s worth reading, and that’s not hard to do. It only takes a moment to determine whether or not the author has put serious time and effort into publishing their book.
As an experiment, and more importantly, as a way to start getting my work out into the world while I write my full-length memoir, I’m going to publish one of my essays as an ebook. I plan to go all out in terms of hiring a professional editor and cover designer for the project. I want to give it a real shot and see what happens. I also plan to blog about my experiences for those who are interested in learning more about the process.
What do you all think about self-publishing? Have any of you self-published before? I’d love to hear your experiences.