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Nowadays, it’s quickly becoming the norm: before their stories are even finished, writers are already considering their self-publishing options. And who can blame them? From speed-to-market to more creative control to no rejection letters, it’s an enticing prospect.
But some are quick to thumb their noses at these writers, believing them to be going rogue, bucking the system in the name of vanity.
News flash: the 90’s called. They want their stereotype back.
In fact, self-publishers of today are to be taken very seriously indeed. Why is this?
1. They’re raking in the dough. Self-publishers tend to be financially smart, understanding that in a traditional author-publisher relationship, the money flows mostly one way: to the publisher. So they’re being proactive, and reversing the equation. Now, they’re collecting up to 85% of retail price in royalties, instead of giving up about that same amount—for life!
2. Their books look fantastic. In some cases, even better than books that come from publishing houses, who, surprisingly, can even mess up the classics. Case in point:
Let’s get real: everyone judges books by their covers, so the interesting—shall we say liberties?—the designers took with this cover will probably cost them sales on this print run, even though it’s a well-known book.
Compare that to Allison Marie Conway’s recent self-published poetry book, Vein, which positively oozes sensuality.
Talk about a sexy book cover. And very inviting. Who wouldn’t want to read?
What today’s self-publishing author realizes is that when you have a book that radiates, not only does it attract more readers, it’s a lot more likely to get shelf space in a brick-and-mortar bookstore like Barnes & Noble (which won’t accept anything that looks homemade). And here’s how to publish a book that radiates.
3. Their books are professionally edited. Big publishing houses employ armies of editors, red pens at the ready. Sadly, self-publishers would often skimp on this very necessary step, believing that with a few read-throughs, their manuscripts would be ready for the limelight.
Today’s savvy self-publishers recognize that it’s very difficult to pick out all of their own typos and dangling modifiers—especially in manuscripts they are so intimately familiar with—and even more difficult to spot inaccuracies or errant assumptions. They know there’s no substitute for a trained, careful eye on their work, and as a result, any self-published book you pick up nowadays is much more likely to be a great read.
4. They’re getting movie deals. From Andy Weir (ever seen The Martian?) to E.L. James (Fifty Shades of Grey, but you’ve probably never heard of it) to Amanda Brown (Legally Blonde), self-published authors know that with a few beta readers, an honest critique or two, and a thorough markup by a freelance editor, their promising story can turn into a phenomenal, polished work that gets talked about and passed around—all the way to the silver screen.
Would any of this have been possible twenty or thirty years ago? Maybe, but it would have been much harder. The advent of e-books, blogs, social media sharing, and websites like ChapterBuzz have all made it much easier for the self-published author to reach readers and sell books.
Self-published authors know they have something to say, and nothing will stop them from saying it. When properly produced, a self-published book will stand out from the crowd, and could rake in thousands, even millions.
If you’re still stuck in that old mindset of ten years ago where expectations for self-publishing authors were much lower, wake up and smell the coffee. Heck, it could even be the self-publishing author next door who’s brewing it as she sits down to write.
And take her more seriously than ever—she could be the next big name.
I’m Timothy Pike, publishing consultant based in Philadelphia, PA, specializing in helping you publish a beautiful book and get it into the bookstore. Be sure to sign up for more info about my simple publishing system!