I just downloaded Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran. This week David has made it available for free on both Amazon UK and US, so there’s no excuse not to pick it up. You can also get the PDF version for free on David’s marvellous site here (and in my blogroll on the right).
I’ve just finished reading the first part of the book, which deals with why authors should self-publish. David makes a very compelling case for doing so, and I’m surprised to say that I’ve quickly gone from planning to go the agent-legacy publisher route once my novel is ready to pitch, with self-publishing as a backup if that didn’t work out, to being (almost) completely decided that self-pub is the best primary option.
Why? A few things.
- Prompt publishing. Instead of spending months finding an agent, more months working with them to edit, more months finding a publisher, and then 12-18 months waiting for the book to finally be released, you can publish in days.
- Finances. “Why give a publisher 52.5% of your royalties forever for something [editing, cover design] you could get done for a one-off payment of $2,000?” On the one hand, you have a typical $10,000 advance from a legacy publisher that the book will likely never earn out. On the other you have 70% royalties from a sale at $2.99, needing only 5,742 sales to beat that $10,000 advance, even including those $2,000 costs. And if that sales figure sounds huge, the number of self-pub authors selling more than 800 copies a month is large, and growing.
- E-book growth. E-books already make up ~30% of the market, and that’s only going to grow. Legacy publishing may be the only easy way to get a hard copy of a book into a bricks-and-mortar bookstore, but so what? It’s a tragic fact that most of those are closing down anyway.
- Marketing. Or, to be precise, the fact that even with a legacy publisher, the little-known midlist author is going to be required to do the bulk of the marketing and promotion for their novel anyway; building the platform, the blog, website, Twitter following. That $10,000 advance isn’t going to be backed up by a $50,000 marketing budget! So…
What does the traditional publishing route give authors, again?