A few years back the term ‘self publishing’ was used when referring to vanity publishers. For those who don’t know, vanity publishing is where you pay a company a sum of money to edit, format, create and produce a cover design for your book before they publish it for you.
Self publishing today is where authors themselves find a professional editor, cover designer and sometimes formatter for their book before publishing it themselves to Amazon, iBooks, Kobo and others.
- E. L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey
- Andy Weir’s The Martian
- Hugh Howey’s Wool
These are just a few of the authors who have achieved success with self-publishing.
In a recent article on the BBC website it was reported that “In their competition to get noticed, self publishers are proving willing to take risks.” They go on to use Andy Weir’s The Martian as an example, quoting how that particular story had originally been published chapter by chapter on the authors blog.
From what I have seen of self-published authors, or indie authors as they often call themselves, they are extremely open to experimentation and often trial and test many different marketing methods. This is a fantastic tactic and many who, like me, work by day in the marketing world will recognise as a common strategy in business.
However the attraction for many to self publishing is the number of advantages, including that the control aspect remains with the author. So things like cover design, formatting, release dates, cover and description copy, pricing and every other aspect of the process remains their decision. Another advantage is the up to 70% royalty rate, which makes the 10% offered by traditional publishing houses seem like a pittance.
Also, the time it takes to publish with a traditional publisher could be a year or even two. As an indie author, as soon as your editor has completed the final check of your book, it’s ready to hit publish and can be on shelves of Amazon and the other places within 24 hours.
Another aspect is the way traditional publishing works, and the likelihood that they won’t pour their valuable marketing resources into an author’s new book if you’re an unknown. Those resources will be saved for the already famous author who is a sure thing for sales figures.
This means that even traditionally published authors have to market their own books themselves, like the indie authors.
However, despite all this, the big publishing houses do often dominate the top chart lists, but these are often with very well known and established authors. It’s not often there are breakthrough authors coming through, however this may not always be the case.
Although, with 15% of all books in the UK being indie published, self-publishing isn’t going away and the big publishing houses need to stop pretending it doesn’t exist and that it can’t change the landscape of publishing.
Especially now that many indie authors are working very hard to ensure their books are professionally edited, have professional covers and book descriptions. Indie publishing is definitely maturing and I for one see this as a good thing.