Are self-published books successful?

How to Self-Publish Your Book # 1: Traditionally and Self-Publishing for Bloggers

Editor's note

Books are an amazing marketing tool. They can be used to convert readers into email subscribers (giving a free e-book in exchange for an email) or they can be used as another source of income for online businesses. This series of articles on self-publishing a book will teach you everything you need to know to get your first book out there and make it a success.

The first article in a tough series on self-publishing. An overview of the basics, such as B. Different publishing options and the timeline that you are likely to follow from start to finish. You will also learn how to plan your book.

Here is a link to the 5 series that allows you to self-publish your book guide

  1. Traditional and self-publishing for bloggers
  2. Set your timeline and budget
  3. 5 Ways To Sell Your Self-Published Book
  4. Design and format your book
  5. 11 ways to market your book

Until recently, if you wanted to get your book into the hands of readers, you had a choice: traditional publishing.

But today traditional publishers are no longer the only gatekeepers. There are many ways to get your book published. Wondering whether it is worthwhile to sign a contract with a traditional publisher or whether you should take matters into your own hands and embark on your own publishing journey?

In the first post of our self-publishing series, we'll weigh the pros and cons of each page so you can make an informed decision.

Traditional and self-publishing: how do they work?

Traditional publishing

The most famous authors (Judy Blume and Stephen King) are traditionally published (sometimes called "trad pub").

In traditional publishing, your book must be selected from thousands of manuscripts by a publisher.

Usually an agent is needed to distribute your book to publishers for you. In the past, authors kept sending their book to publishers and receiving rejection letters until the book was finally selected. Determined writers did not let the repeated rejection come to them:

"When I was fourteen, the nail in my wall would no longer support the weight of the rejection strips impaled on it. I replaced the nail with a thorn and kept writing."

- Stephen King, On Writing: A Reminder of the Craft

Many of the best-selling authors, Agatha Christie, JK Rowling, Louis L'Amour, Dr. Seuss, CS Lewis, Judy Blume, and many more, received many rejections for many years before their books were finally picked up. (I wonder how many amazing books are we missing because they have been rejected by myopic publishers and the authors have given up?)

Finding an agent can be helpful - but again, you need to recruit agents until they are determined to work with you. Literary agents negotiate with publishers on your behalf and typically work for a percentage of the books' total profit. Most literary agents charge 15% of the total gross income for the entire income generating duration of the book.

When it comes to choosing a publisher, you have a choice of the top "Big 5" publishers.

... Or you can opt for a smaller, independent publisher.

With these companies, authors usually do not need a literary agent. They usually welcome submissions from everyone, including first-time authors.

Some examples of independent publishers are:


Self Publishing (also known as "Self Pub" or "Indie Publishing") is the fastest growing segment of the publishing industry.

With self-publishing, writers have full control over the creative and promotional process everything in between.

The authors are responsible for the full costs of production, marketing, and sales. The finished copies as well as all copyrights and ancillary rights are yours. Unlike traditional publishing, the process is pretty straightforward. Just create your book, design your cover, and upload the files to a distribution company. Self-publishing companies offer services such as on-demand book printing and e-book distribution.

Some famous self-publishing companies (also called "Vanity Presses") include:

  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and CreateSpace
  • Smashwords
  • Lulu
  • Xlibris
  • Authorhouse
  • Infinity Publishing
  • Wheatmark

Authors who sell a combination of traditionally published and self-published books are called "hybrid authors".

Keith Ogorek, Marketing Director of Author Solutions - one of the world's largest and leading self-publishing companies - gives us his thoughts on Traditional vs. Self Publishing.

Instead of just giving you a thought. I am sharing a link to the whitepaper I wrote on the current publishing landscape, The Four Ways to Publish. I think it's the best time in history to be a writer because there are more choices and options than ever before in history. The key is that a writer clearly defines their goals, budget, time, and talent that they can bring to the project. If you are clear about this, you will make a good decision about a publishing option.

Traditional vs. Self Publishing: Progress

In the past, a traditional publisher would often have paid you an upfront license fee for your book.

It's basically a signing bonus paid against future earnings from your book. Advances can range anywhere from $ 500 to million depending on the book, author, and publisher.

But advances are not as frequent or as great today as they were in the past.

I got a $ 10,000 advance on my first book. Not terrible for a brand new writer, but not $ 100K either. The average writer doesn't get such a big step forward.

- Michael Kozlowski

Many publishers have cut them altogether or deleted them entirely because 7 out of 10 books never get their progress back. Advances are more common with larger publishers - smaller publishers may not have the resources to supply them at all. On the other hand, self-written authors cannot rely on prepayment. They have to pay the cost of publishing up front and only earn when their books sell.

Traditional and self-publishing: license fees

The difference in license fees between traditional publishing and self-publishing is enormous!

In addition to ease of publication, this is one of the most important factors for authors who choose to publish. Authors working with traditional publishing companies can typically expect to receive 10-15% royalties from every sale. (As mentioned earlier, writers who work with large publishers also need to factor in the literary agent percentage so that they earn less.) Royalty for self-publishing depends on the company the writer wants to work with.

For example, if an author publishes an e-book on Amazon KDP, you typically get 70% of every sale, as long as your book meets certain basic requirements. If it doesn't meet the requirements, you will earn 35%.

Traditional and self-publishing: Reputation

Traditional publishing used to be considered the only legitimate way to get a book published, but authors break that stigma and gain full control over their books through self-publishing. Below are just a few of the many successful authors:

  • E. L James-50 shades of gray
  • Hugh Howey-Wool Trilogy
  • Amanda Hocking - Trylle Trilogy
  • Lisa Genova-Nor Alice

Hybrid writer Rachel Aaron, who has been on both sides, explains to recent interview:

"When I got into the book business, self-publishing was still the last resort for the desperate. Every writing blog and advice column kept yelling at us not even to think about self-publishing, so ... I didn't. But as the rough seas of the early days 2010s hit, I started singing a different tune and suddenly self-publishing wasn't that bad anymore, I met a lot of self-written authors at conventions who not only made good money but also had good books and their own business ones Making decisions! That was what it decided for me. I'm a huge control freak and I love running a business. "

Traditional vs. Self Publishing: Advertising

Unless you're already a famous celebrity, mogul, or professional athlete, you should expect to do a lot of the marketing yourself, even when working with a traditional publisher.

In general, publishers try to work with people who already have a large fan base to begin with.

Traditional publishing usually creates a press kit for writers approaching the media. Traditional bookkeeping is a thing of the past, but an official book start and some appearances can be added to the traditional publishing marketing plan.

Authors who have written themselves are responsible for marketing their books. It helps if you have some kind of episode before the book is published. If not, recognition and selling will take time and dedication. (Stay tuned for more information on how to market your book!)

Traditional vs. Self Publishing: Control

When you sign a contract with the publisher, you lose control of the end product when it comes to traditional publishing.

The editor will control the editing, cover design, legal rights and so on. Your contract almost always grants the publisher the right to distribute the book in both print and electronic form in English throughout the United States and its territories.

Publishers can also have certain "sub-rights" such as the right to sell your book on movie or television shows and the right to sell the book worldwide. The contractual arrangement will be different for each writer, but in general you will lose many of your rights (although you can try to negotiate the details). Self-publishing is very different from traditional when it comes to control. When you publish yourself, you retain all of your rights and are in complete control of the final product.

Traditional and self-publishing: timeline

Publishing with a traditional publisher can be a lengthy process, and the timeline varies from company to company. Here is an example of a traditional publish timeline:

  • From the idea to the book proposal to your literary agent: 1-3 months
  • From agent to editor and book Contract offer: 2-5 months
  • From contract offer to first paycheck: 2-3 months
  • From contract to handover of the manuscript to the editor: 3-9 months (sometimes longer)
  • From delivery of the manuscript to the editor actually working on it: 2-5 months
  • From editor to publication: 9-12 months

Total time from idea to print: About 2 years, once again the timeline varies with publishers and authors.

Again, the authors have full control over their timeline if they choose to publish. Instead of waiting for your publisher to take each step, you are in control. Timelines for self-published books can vary widely depending on the author. One book can take a year to produce while another book can be designed and printed in three weeks. Three to six months is a reasonable estimate.

Ready to plan your book?

Still torn between traditional publishing and self-publishing? Check out the next post in the series for what's expanding on budget and timeline.

About KeriLynn Engel

KeriLynn Engel is a copywriter and content marketing strategist. She loves working with B2B and B2C companies to plan and create quality content that will attract and transform her audience. When she's not writing, she's reading speculative fiction, watching Star Trek, or playing Telemann flute fantasies on a local open microphone.