SELF-PUBLISHING IS NOT FAILURE. IT’S THE NEW MARKET PLACE.
THE ‘STIGMA’ OF SELF-PUBLISHING
‘Self-publishing’ used to be scoffed at and for some good reasons. It conjures up images of badly designed books, unedited text, shoddy paper and poor quality printing and binding. Or even worse: covers that look as if they were produced on a Mac in the good old days of ‘Desktop Publishing’ using clip art (or these days, poor quality digital photographs) and Times New Roman or, horror of horror, Bookman or Hobo typefaces. These are all transgressions against what makes a good book so I understand how self-publishing earned its reputation.
And that’s without considering the writing. Not all writing is good writing. I know, I assess about three manuscripts each week: some are terrible, some are good and some are gems. But even the gems are difficult to get published commercially because things have changed. Having a book published by a commercial publisher is now afforded to very few writers. The number of publishers, particularly in New Zealand, is getting smaller by the day, so even if the remaining publishers keep their lists at the same size, there are fewer books being produced.
I have some wonderful people walk in my door, people with great ideas and a well-told story. Often they have tried all the publishers before they get to me and have received rejection after rejection. They have worthy books, interesting books, books well written and with a clearly defined target audience.
For example, the first book we produced as Mary Egan Publishing was Caught Between Sunshine and Shadow, edited by Georgie Tutt, a compilation of stories about living with bipolar disorder. Georgie printed 1000 copies with us, and before the books had even reached New Zealand, the print run had sold out and it went to immediate reprint. It would have been difficult to convince a publisher to take this book as the author wanted to exercise creative freedom and editorial control. With our guidance and experience she achieved what she set out to achieve: to publish a book that demystifies bipolar affective disorder and at the same time, be commercially successful.
We have recently produced a book called Stepping Through Transitions: Management, Leadership & Governance in Not-For-Profit Organisations written by two academics, Judith McMorland and Ljiljana Erakovic. This, too, would not fit in to a commercial list although it is well researched, well written and the only one available on this subject. It will find its audience and be successful.
A self-published title with a well-defined target market has the potential to be financially successful. For example, if a popular restaurant or café were to self publish a cookbook they already know their potential buyers – their customers. By self-publishing they cut out all distribution and retailer margins and retain all proceeds (minus the cost to produce and print). If they were to sell 2000 copies and were making $20 per copy, they would make $40,000.
THERE IS SELF-PUBLISHING AND THERE IS SUCCESSFUL SELF-PUBLISHING
Being successful is all about thinking differently, working hard, pushing sales and appealing to your target market. There are many ways to reach your audience using both traditional publishing channels combined with modern day marketing techniques. And the secret ingredient: the harder you work, the more money you make.
There is only one approach to getting it right. Successful self-publishing should follow the exact same steps a commercially published book does: assessment, editing, design, production and marketing. Otherwise how else can the book compete in a crowded market? This remains true for eBooks too.
If you want a professional book, you hire professionals just as you would if you were building a house. A power tool salesman is not a builder, an art teacher is not an interior decorator and an engineering student is not an electrician. Translate this to the publishing industry: an author is not a designer, an English teacher is not an editor, a retired accountant is not a typesetter… I could go on. Just as having your house built by a registered builder protects your investment, having your book professionally produced gives you the best chance of achieving sales.
We understand self-publishing is unrealistic for some and it can be expensive, but you need to think of your return on investment. You may sell 50 copies of the book you produced yourself, or you may sell 500 copies of a book you had professionally done. We help you make these decisions and will prevent you from throwing away your money if the figures do not stack up. We want you to be successful and we care about every project that comes to us.
Our aim is to make people realise self publishing is just as legitimate as commercial publishing. Let’s remove the stigma of self-publishing by raising the quality of the self-published work out there. Self-publishing is not failure. It’s the new market place.