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The publishing industry has changed radically in recent years. Gone are the days when the traditional channels of publication were the only option for aspiring writers.
Self-publishing has taken the world by storm, but unfortunately, several long-standing myths obscure the process and reality for those looking to get into the industry.
The truth is that self-publishing, especially in the eBook space, is currently a rising tide that has increased significantly from year to year. Up to 34% of all e-book sales are now self-published – a figure that was practically zero 15 years ago.
The opportunity and the means are available to you with self-publishing if you have the passion. You just need to know how to get the most out of this alternative route to publishing.
Myth: Traditional printing is more prestigious
In the past, self-publishing has brought with it the stigma of being of inferior quality compared to works published in the more traditional press. Self-publishing was seen as a second choice for those who couldn't find a publisher, but that's just not the current landscape. Countless books that are considered classics today were initially unable to find a publisher. Often times, a publishing house's decision will be based more on its brand and potential profitability than on the actual quality of the writing.
Critical praise in the form of writing contests and awards has begun to recognize the work of self-published books as being on par with the prestige of books published by traditional publishers. Where and how a book was published these days doesn't necessarily correlate with quality, and self-published works are just as likely to have critical success as anyone else.
The raw figures show that self-published authors achieve significant growth, as they now account for up to 40% of the market share.
Myth: Self-publishing is a less lucrative route
From a financial point of view, self-publishing is just as valid as any other means, in many cases even more so. As every writer knows, making real and consistent money with words is not easy.
Nearly 80% of writers make less than $ 1,000 a year, while some are more than eight digits for their work. The most important compromise when working with a traditional press company vs. self-publishing is the classic "security vs. opportunity" dilemma.
A publisher will no doubt help with marketing and sales, and help a writer find and connect with an audience. You will also only leave about 10% of the sales fees to the authors. Those who self-publish usually keep between 50 and 70%.
When applied to a wide audience over the years, these numbers add up in a hurry to affect an author's bottom line. With self-publishing, there's more work on the author's side, but you keep all the rights along with a much larger piece of the sales pie. It may be considered a riskier choice, but for those who want control, it's a tempting option.
It's by no means the easiest route for aspiring writers, but for those ready to get the job done, there are plenty of reasons why self-publishing might be the right move.
Related: 5 pitfalls to avoid when writing your first ledger
Myth: It means less work for the writer
While self-publishing has fewer parties involved compared to corporate publishing, it is by no means an acronym for the work it takes for a book to be successful. Even the greatest writers need support to thrive, and if that isn't provided by a publisher, it is up to the writer to meet those needs. Self-publishing gives the author more creative freedom and control over his work, but it also increases responsibility and risk.
Finding the right editors, designers, and marketing teams are tasks that require time and money to get done right. Coordinating, communicating, and working with them over months is a skill that is often overlooked by introverted writers.
Of course, that doesn't mean that all of these jobs have to be done by the writer of course, and it is still possible to get help with self-publishing.
Myth: Self-publishing doesn't mean outside support
Some think that self-publishing means you have no support for your work, but the amount of help a self-publishing writer will get is directly related to the resources and time they spend on wants to spend the project.
It is easy to find and hire a team of several people to help them in areas beyond their capabilities and they will function more or less like a publisher. This can be costly, however, as authors say they spend an average of $ 2,000 to $ 5,000 on publication – sometimes up to $ 50,000.
For the minimalists, however, you can opt to do everything internally and slowly to keep costs at a more manageable level. This is just a matter of preference. Every writer has different goals and needs with their book, but the journey to self-publication doesn't mean you are cut off from all forms of support.
Related: How to write (and actually finish) a book in 5 steps
Myth: You have to constantly choose a path
There was a time when people believed that big publishers wouldn't work with people who had previously published themselves. In reality, nothing is further from the truth, and publishers regularly look for and hire authors based on their previously self-published works.
Of course, authors can't expect to use the same book. If a book has already been published, it cannot be repackaged for traditional publishing. However, they are also free to work with traditional publishers in the future and vice versa. It is healthy to experiment with both forms when the opportunity arises. You need to know what to look for in a publisher.
Knowing where and how to publish is a major crossroads for any writer who has worked long and hard on their manuscript. While traditional publishing printers certainly have their advantages, don't let the false myths surrounding self-publishing dissuade you from this increasingly popular path.