Myth: No one will buy self published books.
Truth: There are many self-published authors whose works have
sold millions of copies and are still selling because, despite what
the big publishing companies say, people want to read what they
have to say. Among the most famous self-published authors are:
John Grisham: A Time to Kill
Walt Whitman: Leaves of Grass
Mark Twain: Huckleberry Finn
Richard Bolles: What Color is Your Parachute?
L. Ron Hubbard: Dianetics
Irma Rombauer: The Joy of Cooking
Richard Nixon: Real Peace
James Redfield: The Celestine Prophecy
And many, many more.
Myth: I need an agent to publish a book.
Truth: If you’re unknown and you want a major publisher to look
at your book, you’d need an agent. Otherwise you do not.
Myth: Self-publishing is way too expensive for me.
Truth: Self-publishing used to cost many thousands of dollars.
But with print-on-demand technology, the major costs are setup costs.
These have to do with typesetting your book, creating cover art, setting
up the POD files, assigning ISBNs, obtaining Library of Congress numbers, arranging distribution, getting your account set up, and other administrative details. Setup costs for print-on-demand range
from as low as $400 for a generic looking book with a plain cover to $2000
for a book that would be difficult to distinguish from one produced by a large publishing house.
Myth: No one reviews self published books.
Truth: Self-published books do get reviews. Some even get reviewed in major magazines and newspapers. However, these are the exception, not the rule. Most POD books get reviewed on radio, in local media, in regional magazines, and on the internet.
Myth: I’m going to have an instant bestseller.
Truth: If you’re Bill Clinton maybe. Otherwise, be prepared for a lot
of work just to get yourself known. Although some self published
books have sold and do sell like that, they are exceptional. Xlibris reported paying one million in royalties last year, but what they didn’t say in their PR was that this was to 8000 plus authors –about $125 per author on average. The reality is a small percentage of authors will make decent money from their book and the rest will sell very little.
Myth: The best book for a newcomer to write is a novel.
Truth: Actually, non-fiction is your best route. Informative, how-to
books sell on the internet and are generally easier to place in bookstores. This is because people who need information will buy it from any source as long as it looks reputable. What do they stand to lose? Just a few dollars. But people who are looking for entertainment or an emotional experience from a book want to know what they’re getting before they start reading. An unknown author of fiction is an emotional risk. What if you let them down? Not that there aren’t any risk-takers among the reading public. There are; they’re just not as plentiful as new writers might wish.
Myth: The only books that make it are those published by big name
writers or famous people.
Truth: Again, there are self published books that made it big and then
were picked up by major publishers and made it even bigger. Most
books make a small income for the author. As long as the book is good to start with, the more it’s marketed and promoted to its target audience, the better it will sell.
Myth: All I should have to do is write the book. Sales are not up to me.
Truth: There are over a million books in print, so if you want yours
to stand out, you should be prepared to work. Selling books is a business, and it requires hard work just like any other business.
Myth: Big publishers wouldn’t expect me to market my own book.
Truth: Here’s a quote from a Senior Editor at Harper Collins: “I won’t
even look at a book unless the author is prepared to do a book tour
and book signings…” If that’s not work, I don’t know what is.
Myth: Bookstores won’t stock POD books.
Truth: They sometimes will at a local level when they deal directly
with the author. They will also stock POD books if they’re returnable
through Ingram. Otherwise, they probably won’t, at least not as yet. However, this may change very soon when Ingram gets their new stocking policy up and running.
Myth: POD books can’t be returnable.
Truth: Most POD books are not returnable. But many POD publishers now offer returnability options.