sellerSo you’ve finally finished the novel you’ve been talking about all these years and it’s sitting on your computer. Now you’re wondering about the next step … publishing.

There has never been a better time to be in publishing.

There has never been a more difficult time to be in publishing.

No, really, it’s true. The technology explosion has created an industry that is in constant flux. By the time you figure out how to ride the wave of success, it fizzles and another new wave is generated in a different direction, leaving you stranded on a surfboard in the middle of a calm sea, wondering where the heck the rest of the surfers went. That being said, there has never been a more exciting time in this industry with so many avenues to publication. From traditional publication at one of the Big Five publishers to small presses who do digital-only to self-publishing your own novels—there’s a path that fits every author’s goals.

Many authors are still opting for the traditional route to publication:

* Polishing the novel
* Writing a synopsis (essentially a “book report” of the story)
* Sending out query letters to agents and/or publishers
* Accepting a contract for publication

Though this is a short and sweet list of the process, it can take months for agents and publishers to respond to your query and once contracted, years before your book is actually published. The advantages of going this route include: the potential monetary advance (a commission payment on future royalties); the novel will be available in both digital and print formats; and it will be sold at both online retailers like iTunes and Amazon as well as physical bookstores.

But not every author wants to wait years to see their novel published. Because of the patience required, some authors choose to publish through digital-only small presses whose turn-around time from query letter to publication is mere months. Your book won’t be printed, but with the advent of e-readers like the Nook, Kindle and iPad, digital books are becoming very popular with readers.

In both traditional and small press publishing, the publisher is responsible for:

* Editing and proofing your manuscript
* Cover design
* Formatting the manuscript for digital and print release
* Pricing and distribution to retailers

There are no upfront costs to you. However, since the publisher is incurring the expense of the professional editors and artists, they will take their cut of the royalties paid to them by the retailers before making payments to you, the author. Percentage rates paid to you vary by publisher, pathsbut are somewhere in the range of 35% of net (royalty paid minus their expense for distribution to a retailer) for digital and 7% of net for print.

When an author chooses to self-publish their work, they become both creator and publisher. They are now solely responsible for all costs of producing the book. Of course, all royalties earned from retail sales go directly to you (ranging 35% – 70% of retail price). The earning potential for the author may be higher without having a middleman taking their cut of the profits.

So what costs will you incur if you self-publish?

1. Editing Services ($500-$1000+) – dependent on word count of project and the type of editing your manuscript requires
2. Cover Artist ($10 – $300+) – Pre-made covers to professional models
3. Formatting ($25 – $400) – Preparing and uploading your book to retailers for both digital and print formats
4. Advertising and Marketing ($0 – unlimited) – This cost you will incur for traditional publishing as well.

With these costs, why would an author choose to self-publish? The reasons vary from author to author. In some cases, the novel is a genre publishers can’t/don’t market; it may be that the author doesn’t want to wait months or years for their novel to be published; and some simply want to experiment with the pricing options and potential earnings. Whatever the reason, many authors are enjoying the independence and control offered by self-publishing.

Over the next several weeks, I will break down the process of self-publishing your books. Whether you’re publishing your first novel or re-releasing previously published works, I hope to clear up any misconceptions, walk you through the process step-by-step and even point you in the direction of editing, cover art and formatting professionals who can help you create a novel readers will enjoy.

Any questions?

6 Responses to The Nuts and Bolts of Self-Publishing

  • I like how you began your post. It’s true in so many ways. Just when you find something that works, the whole system changes and we are back to the learning board!

    • That is one of the very nice things about self-publishing–the opportunity to quickly change with the changing times. Thanks so much for stopping over, Melissa.

  • I self-pubbed my first two books before a publisher picked me up, and the first time I paid $160 and received a horrible cover, plus discovered several mistakes in the content I hadn’t caught. The second time, spent $700 and got a better cover, plus this time around, I had a better understanding of what I wanted, format-wise. But this was before the ‘no-head-hopping’ rule, and both of these books were published before I joined the online community. When a publisher did pick me up, it seemed everyone I spoke with was now self-publishing, so I guess I was either ahead of the trend or trailing behind??? (LOL!) Anyway, in the past eight years I’ve learned a lot about editing (though I still need another pair of eyes on my work!), but can’t seem to master the art of doing covers. Since my beloved publisher folded several months ago, I look forward to more installments on this topic, Nina:)

    • Many small publishers are having a hard time keeping their doors open, Kenzie. This publishing world is a tough gig. I think many authors are finding success having a foothold with a publisher and another foot in the self-publishing world. I’m glad you found the blog helpful. Please stop by again as the series continues. Best of luck on your publishing journey.

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