A couple of years ago when I was still considering getting Torn Apart traditionally published, I submitted my manuscript to every agent and publishing house I could find that I thought would even remotely be interested in my book. To my surprise and delight, I was actually offered a publishing contract from a small publishing house, but after reviewing their contract, asking many questions, and some careful consideration on my part, I declined their offer. Why? Who would turn down an offer to be published?
Well, the thing is Small/Indie Publishing isn’t quite the same as Traditional Publishing. Don’t get me wrong, many are great, and most can do a lot to help an author start their career, but they can’t do everything that traditional publishing houses can, and they’re not right for every author. So what are the differences, and is Indy publishing right for you?
It’s no secret that most writers are starving artists. There are few who have won the best-seller Lottery and can afford to live on their royalties alone. Most of us struggle just to afford the up-front expenses involved in being a writer. Arguably in today’s modern world of self-publishing, you can do a great many things for free, but not everything. If you want a leg-up in the publishing world, you’re going to have to drop some coin, even if you’re a small-time self-published Indy author – there will be expenses. What expenses? How much?
Well, here’s the truth of how much it really costs to be a writer.
There are a lot of predatory practices in the publishing industry, but one I only discovered after I published my first novel is the prevalence of book resellers. What’s a book reseller? Well, they’re just like any reseller. They buy things cheap or at-cost, then mark up the price and skim the profit off the top for themselves. They’re nothing new. Back when I worked retail in my college days, we’d have resellers who would come in and buy all our printers when they went on sale. It got to the point where managers would limit them to one per person because they knew nobody needed THAT many of the same printer and that they were just turning around and selling them for a higher price on eBay. Book resellers work in pretty much the same way. They’ll make a listing on eBay, Amazon, and other 3rd-party market websites and offer YOUR physical book at a higher price than you sell it for.
Wait where are they getting my book? I keep track of my sales. How are they doing this? Where are they getting their stock?
All right, you just published your first novel. Now to sit back and rake in all those sweet, sweet royalties.
Oh, wait, yeah, there’s not a whole lot of that is there? Not if you’re a first-time or indie author unless you win Lottery as I’ve discussed in one of my previous posts. The truth is most writers (even the traditionally published) cannot make a living from their writing. Most writers can barely recoup their marketing, editing, and other writing-related costs. So what are you going to do with your first book? Well, the best thing you can do is give it away for free.