For the uninitiated, the self-publishing journey can feel like a minefield. I hear horror stories every day (no exaggeration) of people paying out $20,000, even $30,000 to publish, only to end up with boxes of unsold books stored out in the garage, collecting mildew. This is why the self-publishing industry has a bad name and why I make it my mission to bring back the fun, joy and even financial gain (yes, you can make money from it!) in self-publishing.
At the end of the day, an author should experience the joy of bringing their book into the world, celebrating with a book launch and making more than it cost them to publish it.
I hesitate to write this post for fear of it sounding like a sales pitch. But I feel very frustrated and even a little angry about the state of the industry that I work in. This may be because I am not just a publisher but also a writer, so I care about the people I help. They are essentially a reflection of me.
They could be me.
Publishing a book is scary. Not just because of the time and money that might go into it but also because the author is putting herself out there. She is investing in herself and putting a piece of work, no matter the genre, out into the community. She will be under the spotlight while the readers decide if the book is worthy of the time they take to read it.
There are so many great stories out there, waiting to be told. Some will get picked up by the traditional publishers and receive a royalty of the sales, others will be self-published. My problem is that there are many companies out there masquerading as ‘real’ or traditional publishers. For the uninitiated, how do you tell the difference? It’s very easy. If ANY money changes hands, you are essentially self-publishing. If you are not handing over any money and receive a percentage of the sales, then that is traditional publishing.
Do you know how these companies manage to get away with this? EGO. They are telling people that they love their work and they should publish it. They say that they will publish it but you have to buy 1500 books at wholesale price (putting you out of pocket by around $25,000). Or they’ll sell you a reasonable package, only to on-sell you large marketing packages (of around $30,000). Then they will continue to hound you for months – even years – to buy more books, publish another book or add more marketing bundles to what you already have.
My blood is boiling just thinking about it. How can a person make back their money if they’ve invested that much already? Probably by now they are so despondent by the whole process that they have fallen out of love with their project that was so exciting when they were told, ‘We love your book.’
So please, authors, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Ask lots of questions, get lots of different opinions. If you are handing out more than $10,000 for the physical publication (unless you are getting illustrations or photography) of your book then you may as well flush it down the toilet.
My favourite part of the publishing process is seeing my authors at the book launch, seated at a table behind a pile of their books waiting to be signed. It never gets old. I get little butterfly flutters in my belly. I don’t like the idea of authors crying over the horrible experience that they may have been subjected to. Publishing should be exciting, fun and even life-changing!