Self-publishing has been good business for editors, book designers, and promoters. Unfortunately, an author must do a great deal of screening to reach the skilled professionals in these fields. You see, anyone can set up as an editor, designer, or promoter. For that matter, anyone can set up as an expert in information about self-publishing.
Many independent bookstores, who are struggling to remain viable, have been quite generous about carrying self-published books, understandably limiting the number they will display. However, a few have joined the ranks of the greedy. I’ve heard of one store that will carry an indie book, but charges a restocking fee and requires 50% of the sale. If they ordered the book from Ingram, they would only get 35% and have to pay for shipping as well.
It’s critical for self-published authors to get the most they can for a modest expenditure of money because few are blessed enough to make back even a modest outlay. If an author spends upwards of $10,000 to produce a book, the only ones who profit will be the companies that provide the services. So, what is an author to do?
- Knowledge is power. Educate yourself. There are many blogs, websites, and books that provide invaluable information.
- Create a budget and stick to it. The bulk of your money should be spent on editing and promoting. (Perhaps your book is one that would be suitable for crowd funding. You should still stick to your budget.)
- Decide which parts of book production you can do on your own and still have a professional quality book. (Editing is a part of the process that ALWAYS requires outside professional eyes, so do hire an editor.)
- Investigate and interview the service providers you might use. Read the fine print and make sure your expectations are in line with what the provider is offering.
- Be especially discerning about promotion. There is no escaping the Internet and social media. In fact, a sizeable portion of the book buying public is influenced by the cyber beast and even buys books online. Websites do not have to cost thousands of dollars; some DYI sites will cost less than a hundred dollars a year, and many folks use a free blog for their website. Social media sites like Facebook are also free. Learn about these options (knowledge is power).
- Trust yourself and speak up. If self-publishing overwhelms you, find a good agent who can get you published through a traditional publisher. The same buyer beware philosophy applies.