Whenever you make your writing available to your readers, you are making a marketing decision. Whether the piece of writing is for sale or for free, whether it’s print or electronic, whether it’s distributed widely or narrowly, all these choices are marketing choices. The publication method you choose is also a marketing choice. While all these choices are influenced by your marketing goals, there are other factors to consider. Self-publishing, especially, is a business decision.
If you are a poet or a fiction writer, and this even applies to nonfiction writers, though to a lesser extent, you can go through the traditional publication process—again and again and again—without ever really consciously considering your activities a writing business. And it can still work for you. Of course, you are still operating a business, but you can abdicate the business decisions and leave those in the hands of agents, editors, and publishers. You can, in theory, stick to your writing, and give short shrift to the business end of things. It’s not recommended, but it’s possible.
As a self-publisher, however, you are right there in the thick of the business of writing. There are no agents and no publishers there to make the decisions for you. You have to choose how to produce and distribute your work, so that others can read it. There are many different options out there, ranging from do-it-yourself to service boutiques. The market is full of self-publishers, and the market is full of people who profit by serving self-publishers.
When it comes to the business of my writing, I know what I want. I want to offer my book to as many readers as reasonably possible in both print and digital mediums. I also want to ensure that it is a book of professional quality. Finally, I want to sell and distribute this book at a fair profit, considering how much I have invested in producing it and how much more I will need to invest to get it in the hands of people who want to read it.
I’ve discussed the decision to self-publish and I’ve discussed the possibility of going with a hybrid publisher. In the end, since I would have to “re-do” things I’ve already spent money to do, I chose to continue along the self-publishing path. In my last post on this, however, I raised an issue that a few readers had a problem with: namely, the self-publishing provider I chose would produce an e-book that would be widely distributed and a print book that would only be distributed through my website, www.StephanieAllenCrist.com.
After all my research, I hadn’t found a better alternative. Sure, I found self-publishing service providers that functioned very much like traditional publishers, in that they left the author with a measly 10% royalty, but provided none of the quality or the name-brand recognition that (almost) justifies that arrangement in traditional publication, nor are they taking the financial risk (which is why traditional publishers can get away with low royalities). Frankly, that’s absolutely absurd. I’m sorry to say, but those of you who have fallen prey to such a provider have made some very poor business decisions.
I had been planning to go with www.BookBaby.com. With BookBaby, I would get 100% royalties on the net (after the distributors take their cut). BookBaby’s only profit comes from the fees I pay for the services they provide. I had planned on using BookBaby as a one-stop solution (minus the editing, that’s already done). Then, I used
www.99Designs.com to get a new logo for my new website. The experience was so overwhelmingly awesome, I had to check if they did book covers too, and they do! For the same price as BookBaby, no less! The advantage of 99Designs is that you get designers to compete for prize money, which means you have more designs to choose from and, perhaps, more opportunities to provide input. Then, as I was explaining my choices, I was reminded about www.CreateSpace.com
The reason I dismissed CreateSpace from consideration early on in my process is because I’m not attracted to the do-it-yourself approach. First, I do not have the time to learn how to do it myself. It is literally cheaper for me to hire someone else to do it than it is to learn how to do it myself. Second, I don’t have the patience for it. I’ve learned a long time ago that learning to do things outside my skill sets is really frustrating for me. Unless, 1) doing myself adds substantial value or 2) I cannot possibly afford to pay someone else, but I can possibly learn to do it myself, then I’m better off just forking over the money. There are too many stressful things I can’t avoid to take on stressful things I can avoid just to save a few bucks. Finally, I have also come to realize that doing-it-yourself is a good way to lower the quality of the final product. My old versus my new website is a very recent case in point. So, CreateSpace was out.
Except, they don’t require you to do it yourself. They do provide services. They just don’t make it obvious. So, now I’m back to weighing pros and cons. With BookBaby, the digital book will be more widely distributed, but the print book will be distributed far more narrowly. With CreateSpace, both books will be available on Amazon. Price wise, it looks like CreateSpace is cheaper, but there is less evidence to prove the quality.
All I know for sure at this point is that I’m still going to self-publish, because I’ve invested too much to make other options profitable at this point. And I’m running out of time to make these last few decisions.