Sunday, November 24, 2013

NW Bookfest '13 Workshop Review #9: Best Practices and Formatting For Self-Publishing

(Image:  Gutenberg's Printing Press from The Renaissance Connection)
When I first started attending writers conferences several years ago, self-publishing had a less-than sterling reputation.  Self publishing was viewed as a last resort or act of desperation.  Not to mention the opinion that your book is lacking in quality.
Since then, opinions--and quality--of self published books have improved.
Oh sure, there's still a lot of self-made slush out there, but more authors are turning to self-publishing in order to maintain firmer control of their work--and keep more of their profits.
But self-publishing isn't a one-size-fits-all process.  In this penultimate workshop I attended for this year's NW Bookfest, Gerri Russell explained some of the pros & cons of self-publishing.
On the sunny-side, self-publishing is on the rise.  According to Gerri--
--Self-publishing has increased 287% from 2006-2012.
--87,201 e-books were self published.
What does all this mean?
The number of books self-published is now outpacing the traditionally published boo
Every self-published author is also a publisher (and all the associated headaches that go along with the title).
Books aren't primarily sold in bookstores anymore.  There sold via--
--online retailers, like Amazon, or
--downloaded on to gadgets like iPads, Kindles, Nooks
The Big Question to ask yourself, then:  Is self-publishing for me?  (Especially if I'm a newbie author).
Ironically, 40% of self-publishers are "old hands" that have books published via traditional means.  And 60% of self-publishers have been writing for 10+ years.
I guess old dogs can learn new tricks--at least in the publishing business.
Anyway, the Next Big Question is:  Can you earn a living self-publishing books?
Gerri's findings were--
--average income/year is $10,000
--mean income was $500
So don't quit your day job right away.
Who earned the most?
Writers with agents earn 3 times more money.
(Image from:  The Avengers)
Unfortunately though, not from these kind of agents.  Instead, believe it or not, writers get more earning power from people like this...
Romance writers earn 20% of the average income, while sci-fi, fantasy and literary writers earn 38%, 32% and 20% of the average income, respectively. 
An even bigger reason not to quit your day job.
However, being previously published helps writers earn 2.5 times more than those who haven't
So with all this dire news, should you still self-publish?
Yes, if you feel it's right for you and your book(s).  But "self-publish" doesn't mean going-it alone.
You will need the following assistance--
--an editor (for narrative continuity)
--a copy editor (to check for proper grammar & syntax)
--a proof reader
--a professional cover artist

The fact of the matter is, readers expect more from an indie author than a traditionally published one.  You have a reputation to build and flawed books won't be taken seriously.

So from additional tatistics Gerri unearthed--

--getting professional editing provides a 13% increase in earnings
--while a professional cover design increases earnings by 34%

You may not be able to judge a book by it's cover, but from a marketing standpoint, you can certainly sell more.

The bottom line is:  Prove to your readers and critics that you value your book.

The rest of Gerri's seminar was a quick run-through of various formatting procedures used by the following companies:

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
Nook Press

What ever method you choose, be sure to buy your ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) and spread the word of your book release through social media.

Here's to your success in getting published!

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