Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Things that Make you go Hmm... Self Publishing

Today I read a blog post, 'A Tale of Two Royalty Statements' that had me going 'hmm.'  It was by a historical romance writer called Courtney Milan, whose novels and novellas I've greatly enjoyed for their intelligence, intelligent heroines and family dynamics (okay, and let's not forget the romance!)

The post was about the difference in income between a story she had in a collection with two famous writers and published by a major publisher, and a self-published novella.

Before reading the article I would have assumed that to be a no brainer. Surely the story published by the major publisher made more money? Um. No. Not by a long shot.

Now, the figures alone had my pupils dilating. That much for a short story? That much for a novella? Hoosh!

Let me just say here that Milan writes brilliantly, playfully and thoughtfully, and deserves every cent. But the other notable point about Milan is how reasonably she prices her books - most are about $3.50, and every so often one will be free or 99c or something like that. So her intake is based on the quantity of books she sells, not the price, although I'd strongly suggest the two are at least a little linked.

Self Publishing is not a route I'd ever truly considered - simply because of the kind of person I am. Dis-organised. The nitty-gritty, the fine details, are not my thing, and I would be too afraid of sending something shoddy into the world, to consider it at this time.

Another thing would be the cost - to self-publish properly the start up cost for editing, layout, covers, promotion, etc would be more than I could get my hands on. I wouldn't even begin to consider it without a good editor (or two or three) going through my work. Milan's straightforwardness on this strengthened my resolve. While I'm definitely not ruling out self-publishing in the future, when time and money are not in such short supply, it's definitely not a viable option - for me - at present.

While Milan's finished products are flawless... that's because of the type of person she is. I will be leaping for joy (and surprise) if I get my Christmas cards out on time, and as for really tricky things, like getting matching socks on the kids? I think I deserve a medal.

But still, I think it's something all authors are thinking about at the moment. For a clever, meticulous writer, there are clear financial benefits to self-publishing. For those of us who are not so meticulous there are clear logistical drawbacks to self-publishing.

And then there's the whole issue of pricing... How publishers are pricing their new authors out of the take-a-chance-on-this category and how a clever author (or a thoughtful publisher) can entice readers to new authors through pricing... or not.

As a reader, it seems most self-published e-books are a reasonable price to take a chance on. I definitely took a chance on Milan because of the price. Books published by bigger publishing houses? Well... for that price I'll go with a tried and true author. One I can rely on. Or the library. Although admittedly being able to read the first chapter of a book makes a big difference. I have often been hooked by a good first chapter.

Anyway, I'm still going 'hmm'.

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