Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Writers' Wednesday: Self-Publishing Still the Kiss of Death?

Self-publishing: to many people, it's still a red flag. In a nutshell, some think if you can't get your book published through traditional channels, then it probably isn't good enough to be published at all. Thus, if you decide to take on the kiss of death and self-publish, you're trumpeting to the world that your book wasn't good enough to make it any other way.

Or are you?

These days, it seems, ebooks and the ease of digitally self-publishing have taken away that stigma, at least to some degree. Lulu, of course, has been around for a while for authors who want to self-publish a print version. But that requires a certain amount of cash up front, that authors may or may not recoup. But Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing program (as well as Barnes and Noble's PubIt) allow authors to upload a file, format it, and have it available in digital form almost immediately - with very little financial output (excluding, of course having an editor go over your work and/or having a cover artist design your cover). Royalties through KDP are 70%, which is higher than you'll find with any other publisher. Of course, keep in mind that you are solely responsible for all marketing of your work - and that can be hugely time-consuming, especially if you don't have a reader base already established.

But what if you do? This is where things get a little interesting, in my opinion. What if you're a published author, with a fairly solid reader base, and you have a work or two that either doesn't fit with your current publisher, or is a backlist title that you have the rights for, or is simply a short work you want to have available to readers in between releases of your full-length works?

I'm friends with an author who's in just that situation, and last year she formatted and uploaded one of her previously-released books when her publisher folded and she had all rights returned to her. She spoke of the process as being very easy (esp. since the book had already been edited, and she's savvy enough to create her own cover). I emailed her last week to ask about the whole experience, and she couldn't recommend it highly enough. Since then, she's uploaded 3 of her works (2 previously released and 1 new work that had been rejected in a few places - yes, established authors get rejected too), and along with her regular sales through her publisher, those titles have brought in a solid chunk of cash.'s something to consider. For a new, unpublished author, self-publishing through one of these channels might be a way to test the waters, or a way to finally get that work out in the public eye. For published authors, it might be an interesting way to supplement your backlist, especially when you don't have anything releasing for an extended period of time. Am I thinking about it? Maybe. I'll keep you posted!

Until then, I'm interested in anyone's thoughts or experiences with KDP or B&N's program. Done it? Recommend it?

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