Five years ago, when I started thinking about writing my first book, most people recommended a traditional publisher rather than self-publishing. I took that advice many times, but since then I’ve wondered if I made the right choice.
One year after my book was released, I terminated my relationship with my publisher. There were several reasons for this: I felt that I was doing most of the work anyway – except for printing the book – so why not get the full financial reward? However, my biggest reason was lack of control. I felt that I had very little say over anything that happened with my book and I had no way to track my marketing efforts. Like most new writers, I wasn’t making much money anyway, so why not venture out on my own?
That was five months ago and this is what I’ve learned so far:
The electronic author has most of the same problems as the traditional author. For the new writer, the biggest problem is publicity. I am doing the same things I was doing 18 months ago – press releases, blog tours, working social media, trying to build a name for myself as a writer, etc. The only thing I’m not doing is physical book signings, which I could do with my remaining stock, but have chosen not to. My goal is to have a total virtual experience.
Technology is the biggest epublishing challenge, especially if you’re weak in this area. For months, I took classes and read articles to prepare for this change, yet I’m almost overwhelmed with the amount and content of the information. Initially, I was under the impression that there were two major formats – Mobi for Amazon’s Kindle and epub for everything else.
What I’m learning is there are variations on these two and it hasn’t been as easy as it sounded. Most web sites that publish books have technical departments that are very helpful and there are companies that assist you with the technical aspects of epublication such as formatting and creating ecovers.
Numerous outlets exist for epublications. New writers are usually encouraged to purchase their own books from the publisher until they create a demand for their product. Epublishers typically do not have as many restrictions and once your book is in the correct format, you can often list it free. One list had 40 web sites that allow you to sell books online.
This is time consuming. Some have regulations, some charge small fees, some have time limits, most let you set your own price with a minimum and maximum, some allow you to give your book away or free chapters, some have blogs and community support and some list your book with other sites and help with the promotion.
Payment is quicker with epublication and varies by site – PayPal, check or electronic transfer. Returns are not as likely with ebooks, a good thing. It takes time to get everything set up. Once this is done, all you have to do is maintain and collect your checks.
Changing from traditional publishing to epublishing is going from one extreme to another. I no longer feel that I have little control. Instead, I have total control over everything that pertains to the distribution, promotion and sale of my book. If it doesn’t do well, I can’t blame my publisher. On the other hand, if it does, then I’ll get to claim all the glory. The royalties are less per book, but the expectation is that I’ll sell more books.
Publishers tend to send you out to pasture unless you continue to generate healthy sales numbers. Online sales are different – they don’t drop you if sales are down. You can spend the rest of your life promoting a book and perhaps generate some healthy sales over time. For me, this was a chance that I was willing to take.
If you’d like a copy of the list of 40 web sites, the name of the company who did my formatting, my ecover designer or others who’ve helped me in this process, please contact me at margnorton at yahoo dot com.
About Margaret Norton: Margaret Norton has always pushed the envelope – never totally accepting the status quo. A people person, her greatest joy comes from helping others. Preventing abuse, empowering women and improving health are her passions. As a personal life coach, Margaret founded Life Transitions to help individuals deal with change. In addition, she’s a trained Stephen Minister and Dale Carnegie Coach. This training, along with her personal life experiences, makes her a caring and compassionate coach. Her stories have appeared in A Light Along the Way, the Upper Room, various local newspapers, and on-line.
Margaret Norton’s When Ties Break: A Memoir About How to Thrive After Loss chronicles one woman’s struggles through life, encumbered by far more than her fair share of burden, and her eventual triumph. The author provides an excellent guide through the tribulations of life, having survived divorce, abuse, abortion, excommunication, chronic illness, homelessness, death, bankruptcy, sibling rivalry, adultery, single parenthood, drug addiction, low self-esteem and depression.