As self-publishing has become mainstream, there has been lots of discussion about what an author should pay to get published. This debate has come about because authors now have more opportunity to get their books into the hands of readers than ever before. But even though publishing is within the reach of virtually every writer it doesn’t mean there is just one solution that works for every writer.
In my recent whitepaper, “The Four Paths to Publishing,” I identify the four distinct publishing options available in the market today; DIY, General Contractor, Publishing Package and Traditional Publishing. There are advantages and drawbacks to each method, but they exist because there are a significant number of authors who find each of these paths a satisfying way to get their work published.
Each path seems to have its own set of advocates, many of whom are very vocal about the choice they have made. But if you listen closely to what they are saying, there is a strong implication that there is only one way to get published, and it happens to be the path they chose. And anyone who chooses another path is just not as savvy or as smart.
….as I listen to the rhetoric from those who only advocate for a DIY or General Contractor approach, it reminds me of people who love camping telling people who stay in hotels that they are overpaying for a vacation.
I find that very presumptuous. Some choose a DIY or General Contractor path because they have the time and skills to invest to get their book completed and do the marketing. Others choose a publishing package option because they either don’t have the time or they just prefer to pay someone to handle the details for them. That doesn’t mean they are uninformed. It means they made a purchasing decision based on service and convenience. Still others try to find an agent and pursue a contract with a traditional publisher. Again, that doesn’t make them less savvy. It is a choice they make, but isn’t it great that authors have these options available today? For even as recently as ten years ago, the only option open to an author was a query letter, hope and patience.
I do find the current debate quite interesting because as I listen to the rhetoric from those who only advocate for a DIY or General Contractor approach, it reminds me of people who love camping telling people who stay in hotels that they are overpaying for a vacation. Camping is a choice that works for some people. Staying in a hotel is a choice that works for others. Neither is wrong. They are just different. Publishing today provides the same opportunity. There are a variety of options that require a differing investment of time and money.
However, no matter which path an author chooses, there are some key things to remember.
- Publishing is not free. Even if you choose a DIY option like Booktango, you will need to invest in editing and cover design. Those who don’t spend that money often put out an inferior product. Guy Kawasaki recently published a book about self-publishing and suggests you should plan to invest from $2,000 to $4,000. I think that is a reasonable benchmark, no matter which path you choose.
- Marketing is an author’s responsibility. Even traditionally published authors have to build a platform and cultivate an audience. So get educated about how to do it, and get busy. The Author Learning Center has lots of great ideas and instruction that can make you a savvy marketer. And I highly recommend the book Platform by Michael Hyatt.
- Everyone won’t be successful, but everyone has the opportunity to be successful. The indie revolution has leveled the playing field and created more opportunity than any other time in history. So don’t let that book idea sit on your computer. Get published. You never know where it may lead.