Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Thoughts on self publishing by Johnny Ray

I'm sure I'm not the only writer to think more about this recently. While my goal remains to have my work distributed by a major house, the lure and freedom of self publishing tend to be growing. The time table is definitely faster, the rewards now maybe high enough to make it worth while, and it at least gets your work out there where people can see it and buy it. I feel like I have a large enough platform to sell many of my own books. However, a large house would definitely help with all of their resources.

I've heard that it could hurt your brand, your name later. To some extent this is like in the real estate business where real estate agents look down on for sale by owners. I've also heard this is how many authors got their start. I know many people have their own opinions on this. However, thinking about it, a pen name might work out great.

What would be great is to find a site where one could simply post their work and have people buy it that the author sends to the site. It would help to have an administrator to handle all taxes and accounting of sales, but that is it, allowing for a larger royalty payment.

I've also been exploring the kindle site which appears to be interesting. They have traffic coming to the site, which is good. They can download to people that must go to the site to buy and they are now able to download to the iphone. That can be some very positive incentives.

Of course, the downside is no editor or creative person to guide you. You have to arrange for your own copy writing and book cover designs, etc. And no publicity department to work for you.

My research is just beginning and would love to have others give me their thoughts and available information for a follow up post.

Johnny Ray
Award Winning Novelist


Sue Collier said...

Something to remember about the large house's "resources": Chances are, they are not going to spend them on an unknown author without a track record. So although you are not responsible for upfront production costs if you publish the traditional route, it's still going to be primarily up to the author to market and promote. And you have a book that may or may not be exactly what you want in terms of content and design; they may even change the title.

There are definitely pluses and minuses whether you self-publish or not...but I contend you are more in control of both as a self-publisher.

Good luck to you!

Ghostwoods said...

Interesting post, Sir John, and an area I've been mulling over for a while. There's no doubt if you can get a major house behind you, your work will reach more people. Unless they're _really_ keen though, you'll be left pretty much in the lurch as far as promotion and marketing go.

So self-publishing doesn't necessarily help on that score. But a publisher will (hopefully) get your book into shops, which you can only do self-publishing by visiting them individually and whipping up enthusiasm.

Web promotion can make a big difference in both cases if you reach out to your fan base and have an effective promotion tool that way.

Print on demand houses like Lulu or Lightning Print (or ebook servers like Kindle) have their place, but if you can afford it, have the space, and are confident in your work, it's much better to print and store 1000-2000 copies at home. You can guarantee customer service and print quality, take stock to book signings and promos, send out review copies, and also get a much better return per copy sold.

Honestly, I don't think that self-publishing will hurt your future any more. It's becoming relatively common for publishers to take on books that have been successfully self-published, on the grounds that if the author has been able to sell the book -- which _is_ hard, no doubt -- then they can easily sell it too.