The traditional publisher has pushed the unsignable author toward self-publishers, which unfortunately has provided little in the ways of competing with agency books in quality and marketing prowess. In the end, the folks passionate about making great books lose along with the devoted readers they inspire. So before you jump into the publishing world, ask yourself where you fit in?


Realities Behind Traditional and Self-Publishing

Shelf Space is Decreasing.

Some purchasing experts believe shelf space will decrease by an estimated 90% over the next 10 years. Where will your book show up?

DIY Publishing is Time-consuming.

Even self-publishing darling Amanda Hocking recently said "I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc." Do you have enough time in the day to do everything?

Returns are Quickening.

Traditionally, booksellers are given 180 days to return unsold books to the publisher. Some are now planning to evaluate sales after just 30 to 45 days. How quickly can you generate buzz to gain desperately needed momentum?

Claims of Success are Disingenuous.

Out of countless numbers of self-published authors on Amazon, 2 self-published authors have made it to the "Kindle Million Sellers' Club." Your chances for achieving the same are very low, despite the claims.

Advances are Downsizing.

To mitigate against books that don't sell well, publishers have slashed advances. The new typical advance for debut literary fiction? $1,000-5,000, down from a high of $50,000-100,000. With this, can you really afford to write full time?

Low Sales are the Norm.

Self-published books average sales in the low hundreds, a number Lulu is likely proud of. If your hope is to make a living, is this the attitude you want from your publisher?

You Aren't a Big Name.

Publishers rely on bestsellers and hitmakers. If you don't have a name, publishers will take a wait-and-see approach with your book before they decide to pledge sufficient resources. Can you even make it above the noise without enough resources?

You Won't Get What You Pay for.

Self-published authors typically pay $2,500-7,500 in upfront costs. Most never sell enough to recoup their monetary investment, let alone their own time. Is your book more than a passion project?

Jobs Haven't Recovered.

The unemployment rate in the publishing industry is still behind the national average at 10% vs 8.5%. Jobs still haven't recovered despite increases in sales from recessionary conditions.

Quality Will be Subpar.

It takes dedication and expertise to publish a quality book. To offer low costs, self-publishers rely on package solutions, such as templating and hourly limits. Can you ensure a great cover and layout, as well as well-edited copy?

Don't Quit Your Day Job.

While it's true that the publishers costs to produce your book are high, you likely will never make a living from your work. You'll make between 5-15% royalties of sales, but that's out of wholesale, not retail. How many books can you write yearly?

No One Will Find Your Book.

Discoverability is a challenge even for seasoned authors. Most self-publishers won't provide marketing and those that do provide package solutions. How do you compete with authors who reach readers in innovative ways?