THE INDEPENDENT PUBLISHING ADVANTAGE

Twenty or thirty years ago, it was advantageous for most authors to land a traditional publisher for their book. In those days, independent publishing, or self-publishing, was called "vanity press." In other words, only authors who couldn't get a traditional publisher were those who paid to have their books published. Things have changed a lot since then. Nowdays, traditional publishers are much more risk-averse. They tend not to publish unknown or first-time authors, and favor known authors who will bring them a sure-fire return on their investment. So self-publishing has become increasingly popular as well as reputable, for unknown authors and first time authors. Independent publishing using print-on-demand or offset printing offer affordable quality solutions.

Twenty or thirty years ago, traditional publishers had bigger budgets for marketing and publicizing books. Now, whether you self-publish or go with a traditional publishing house, you, the author, have to do the legwork to market your book.

It's important to understand that when you surrender your manuscript to a traditional publisher, you surrender control over the entire project – editorial control, the look of the cover and pages, and the distribution process, not to mention the kind of contract you must sign with them.

Traditional publishing requires you to submit a book proposal, and may or may not require a literary agent. Advances are sometimes given, though not usually for first-time authors. Royalties are generally much smaller than the net profit you receive for self-published books. We at Quantum Era Press can help you determine whether or not traditional publishing is the best path for you, and we can help you prepare your book proposal and find the right agent or publishing house if you choose this route.

Independent Publishing Options
  
There are three options to consider if you choose the self-publishing route: traditional self-publishing, print-on-demand, and ebooks.

Traditional self-publishing

This means your book will be printed using an offset printing press, which gives a high quality output. It's recommended for books that require top quality reproduction of photos, whether color or black and white, such as fine art books or professional photography books. It is also recommended for quantities of 500 or more (although a few offset printers now offer short runs of 200 books, at a pretty good price), whatever the type of book. In quantities of 500 or more, the cost per book is lower than that for a print-on-demand book. In traditional self-publishing, the cost per book (to you, the author) varies with the number of pages; quality of paper and binding; the number of illustrations; the quantity of books printed (the more books printed at one time, the lower the cost per book); and your warehousing and distribution arrangements. Net returns on books sold is 100% to you, (after your costs for printing, binding, warehousing and distribution, of course).


Print-on-demand

Print-on-demand, which is digital printing, is now being done through a number of middle-man companies. Most of these have had many complaints registered for poor or fraudulent service. Some of these so-called POD publishers like iUniverse and xLibris outsource their design functions to Asia. You will have zero to little control over the design of your book if you use either of these two companies, despite company PR. The outsourced departments are extremely sub-professional and almost guaranteed to disappoint. However, there are POD printers who can take your print-ready book files and give you a nicely produced book, for less money up-front than you'd have to pay an offset printer. Print-on-demand can be used to produce quality soft-cover and hardcover books, printed on a per-order basis, whether one book at a time or many. The internal illustrations or photos, if you have them, will need to be black and white, and will be "digital," that is, illustrations are not as high a resolution as you get with offset printing. But for text, one can't really tell the difference. Covers can be full color (and designed to your specifications by your designer).

Upfront printing costs are considerably less. 

• First-time authors have minimal risk: print as few or as many copies of your book as you want; test market the book;
    if desirable, incorporate feedback for a second edition.

• Author has complete control over the content, appearance, distribution and marketing of the book.

• Net profit to the author per book sold (after you've made back your initial investment) is much higher than that for
   traditional publishing. With traditional publishing, 95% of books don't pay back their advance. Forget about receiving
    royalties as soon as you've  accrued in sales. These days, very few books pay back their advance, according 
    to Publishers Weekly. So what you get up front is usually all you ever see. 

• With independent publishing, you, the author, retain all rights to your book, including the right to publish a second
    edition with another publishing house or in other formats (film, DVD, etc.). If you are getting than 30% royalties on
    your book sales, you are paying too much to a middleman.  Ebook sales can give you 70% royalties.

• First-time authors can use their independently published book to gain leverage with traditional publishers: if you
    have  good sales on your self-published edition, you are in a stronger position to sell your book to a traditional
    publisher for a second edition.


A few examples:

1.  Amanda Hocking wrote 17 teen supernatural suspense novels in her spare time and then self-published them, becoming the first Indie sensation before she signed a $2mm deal with St. Martins Press.

2.   John Locke sold over two million copies of his Indie books before signing a limited deal with Simon & Schuster to get physical distribution for some of his novels.

3.   E.L. James wrote the precursor to Fifty Shades of Grey online as fan fiction and self-published it on her own website before Vintage acquired it.  She was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people for 2012.


• Distribution can be done by a fulfillment house and/or by yourself, whether POD or offset printing is used. A
    fulfillment house can take orders and payment from customers and ship books to them. (They usually take about
    35% of the list price for their services.) Anyone can buy your book from the website of some of the best fulfillment
    houses,  or through amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, etc. Or, if you have your own website, you can link from your
    website   directly to the fulfillment house, with a "buy the book" button or hyperlink. 


• With traditional publishing, your book has only four months on the shelf of bookstores to prove itself. If your book
    doesn't sell in the first four months of bookstore life, it gets remaindered, and disappears from bookstore shelves.
    You have to hit the ground running, with publicity, to have any chance of your book making it. 


• Traditional publishing is very slow. Unless you have a hot scandal tell-all, your book is going to spend two to three
    years wending its way to the bookstores. You need to be sure your topic will keep, and that you will still be interested
    in publicizing it three years from now.

  

  


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