I’m a Writer. Should I Get a Book-Deal, Self-Publish or Self-Distribute? Written by Dino Dogan ~
(If you prefer to listen to the audio version, click I’m a Writer. Should I Get a Book Deal, Self-Publish or Self Distribute? hosted on writer Wanda Shapiro‘s blog)
Would you like to be the next big thing in the book world? Here is the recipe.
- Write fiction; it sells better than nonfiction.
- Write in conversational rather than academic tone.
- Write about a topic that has a broad rather than narrow appeal.
Got that? Do you meet all the criteria?
Most writers don’t, nor do they aspire to.
But…assuming you’ve met the above-listed criteria, let’s talk about your odds of making it big.
- On average, an author (in America) can expect to sell 500 copies.
- Out of 1.2 million books tracked by Nielsen Book Scan (as of 2004); 950 000 books sold fewer than 99 copies. Another 200 000 sold fewer than 1000 copies.
- From these 1.2 million books (basically all books ever published with a UPC code), only 25 000 sold more than 5000 copies.
Note: These statistics were culled from the most excellent work done by Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail (aff).
Let me summarize those numbers I just gave you.
ONLY 2% of the books (when published using traditional channels) will be commercially viable. The remaining 98% will be a financial swan dive for the publishing house as well as you, the author.
Given these factors, do you still want to sign with a publishing house?
I DO Want to Sign With a Large Publishing House
There is at least one great reason to sign a book deal with a large publishing house.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Saying “I’m a self-published author” just doesn’t have a ring to it. On the other hand, imagine having a “published author” on your resume.
Getting a book deal with a large publishing house can be a great catapult for speaking gigs, new clients, future book deals, etc. As long as you don’t think of your book-deal as an end onto itself. Instead, think of it as a platform for bigger and better things.
If “prestige” is your goal, getting a book deal is the way to go. But what if you care more about making money?
We mentioned earlier that an average book will sell 500 copies. If you decide to self-publish, and use print-on-demand service like Lulu, you can expect to keep most of the profits from each book sold.
Financially speaking, this will make you lot richer than if you were to sell the same number of books via large publisher. Downside?
You will have to do all the marketing yourself. But guess what? Most authors who sign book-deals have to do that anyways.
Ok, that’s cool Dino, I hear you saying. But I don’t really need to have my ego stroked, nor do I particularly care about making money. I have this great idea, and I just want everyone to read about it.
Fear not my dear friend. Self-Distribution to the rescue.
Once upon a time, the benefit a publishing house would provide to an author is distribution. However, the Internet has made the “distribution” part of the equation available to anyone with a high-speed modem. You don’t even have to physically print your book. You can distribute it as a file (in .pdf format, aka E-Book) from your computer (or a hosted server). Better yet, make your E-Book available via Bit Torrent services.
To learn how first time authors like Wanda Shapiro use Bit Torrent for large-scale distribution, click here.
Only YOU can answer. But I imagine the answer will depend on your motivation and goals. I hope this post has helped you examine:
- Why you chose to write? (prestige, money or proliferation of ideas)
- What you hope to get out of writing?
- Which path will you take?
Don’t think that you have to do only one.
- Seth Godin has distributed his first book, Unleashing the Ideavirus (aff) via Bit Torrent only to have it published “for real” later on.
- Dr. Brad Blanton has self-published his book, Radical Honesty (aff) only to have it picked up by a large publishing house when it proved to be a nimble seller.
I think it all comes down to this.
You have no more excuses to finish your book. So get to writing.
Start by leaving a comment and let us know what YOU think of these 3 options?
Is there a fourth option we didn’t think of?
Do you have experience using any of these 3 methods? Tell us about it.
Thanks Dino ~
Dino Dogan spent many years researching ways ‘adults learn, seek and receive information, communicate (both internally and externally) and apply learned info, specifically as it pertains to Human-Dog Relationship.’
In his quest to develop the Human-Dog Problem Tree he still finds time for his music and fitness. He is a singer/songwriter who is also a biker. But mostly he calls himself ‘a life-long student’.
“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim; have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.”
Orison Swett Marden – Writer
CURRENT STATUS: Reminder, Motivator and Review Meeting (Read on if you want to join me in my Corporation of One meeting)
What l have learnt:
- When to withhold suspense in a novel and when it shouldn’t be done (via Edittorrent).
- 10 Steps to a better story (via The Blood-Red Pencil).
- Boost your book sales with the magic of niche marketing (via AlanRinzler.com).
- Digital animated e-books – being creative with e-books (via DGLM)
- 10 Common Query Mistakes (via Bent on Books).
- 10 Dos and Don’ts for the first page of your novel Act First, Explain Later (via The Blood-Red Pencil).
- Mobile marketing. Writers: Should Your Book Be An App? (via Time to Write).
What I have done:
- Wrote my very first guest post. Read it here.
- Put the two Twitter accounts on my website. It’s an experiment. Not sure how it will go.
WORD COUNT: Night Walker 144,000 words in total.