Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Number One Reason More Writers Don't Self-Publish

Hi, it's me again.  This time I'm going to talk about fear.

People love feeling elite. many of us think we don't, but if we're being totally honest with ourselves, we do.  We all like feeling we're good at something, better than most: cooking, sewing, electronics, video games. Writing. Traditionally published authors enjoy being in a club of exclusivity.  It makes them feel elite. They like saying things to unpublished writers like "just stay with it," or "keep polishing that manuscript." It's a whole lot easier than saying "I'm better than you at writing."  But whether they say it or not, we feel it.  Once our work has been rejected by an agent or publisher, we feel that we are not good enough. We look at the publishing industry, and we feel Less Than. And that's exactly how they want us to feel.

Many traditionally published authors hate that you would have the audacity to bypass the tried-and-true system and self-publish. I get it.  it's taken many of them years to reach that elite status, "And you want to take a shortcut?  Shame on you." I have a friend who is making zero dollars being traditionally published. Her books sell pretty well, but after spending her own money on promotions, and with a 12-20% royalty rate, being traditionally published is costing her money.  I can't tell you how many times I have said "try self publishing," and she has declined. I get it.  Being traditionally published gives her elite status: "I'm published by Random House."  Doesn't that sound good?  Being self-published makes her like everyone else, or worse, it makes her feel like a loser.

Some authors have said self published authors don't make money. The reality is, most authors don't make money whether they're traditionally published or self-published. So that argument holds no water. Self-published authors do, however, get a 70% royalty.  I don't have to be a math genius to figure out that a self-published author has to sell a lot fewer books to make money than a traditionally published author.

Self published authors can put books out whenever they are ready. Ever hear of Russell Blake?  He publishes a new thriller every five weeks.  Crazy,huh?  Crazy like a fox.  Blake understands the numbers game. He knows when an avid reader discovers his books that reader is going to want to read more of them.  Russell Blake has more books. He also makes lots of money.

Here's the big question: knowing that as a self-published author you can earn a much larger royalty, you can put as many books into the marketplace as you want, you can publish them whenever you want, AND that the odds of you succeeding are exactly the same as they are for a traditionally published author. Why wouldn't you self-publish?  Here's the big answer. Fear.

I've been to those gatherings where I say "I'm an author." "Where can I find your books." "Do you read ebooks? They're available on Amazon." "Who publishes you?" "I'm self-published." "Oh."

It's that "Oh" that stops us in our tracks. It's those looks that you read as "loser" that stops you.  For years I stopped telling people I was a writer because I didn't have the right answers to their questions. I was afraid I'd look like a loser, so I denied my own existence. But then one day I said "Screw it. I'm a writer. No, I 'm not published yet, but I'm still a writer."  And then a strange thing happened--once I claimed it, it became true.

That was a long time ago, but I understand the FEAR of self-publishing very well. I implore you not to let fear keep you from being a published author.  Go after your dreams.  It's not like you're closing a door.  You can self-publish and still get traditionally published. It's not a zero sum game. Yeah, you're going to get those looks. I make a good living and I still get them.  That's life. Don't let the opinions of others keep you from your dream.

Once a traditionally published author self publishes, they are no longer in the club of exclusivity. I was in the club, but I am no longer in the club.  That’s fine with me. Wish I'd left sooner. I feel my best chance at success is by being able to publish when I want to publish, and not when someone else says I can publish. I simply don’t have the patience, or the time.

Don't let fear stop you, either. Self-publishing isn't very hard. Yes, it's daunting.  Yes, it's work. Yes, you are going to have to learn new things. But at the end of the day--yes, you will be a published author. Stick around, and I will walk you through it.

In my next post I'm going address the idea that all we want to do is write, and leave the publishing part to someone else.  In the post I will tell you why that may not be a realistic option. Until then...


Writers, whether you're traditionally published, self-published, or not yet published, you need to get my free cheat sheet: 7 Proven Steps To Self-Publishing Success Learn self-publishing tips from successful pros such as Hugh Howey, Barbara Freethy and others. 

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