Several years ago, most people never dreamed of becoming published authors. The few who did had an uphill battle to climb. Traditional publishing has always been a difficult market to break into for several reasons. In general, after completing a book, an author might spend years trying to find a literary agent who will be interested in reading his work. Even if he is lucky enough to succeed in this task, the chances of an agent selling the book to a traditional publishing house are slim at best. Traditional publishers need to make a substantial profit, and as a result, they are less likely to gamble on a new author unless they feel confident about the book’s widespread commercial appeal. They must invest much time and money into the layout, editing, and marketing of their books, a predicament that has made publishing for the average person nearly impossible. Until recently, that is.
Self-Publishing Becoming the New Standard
In the past few years, there has been a huge surge in self-publishing, an avenue that has made publishing far more accessible to the average writer. Although this venture has, at times, been costly to the author, there are more and more affordable options creeping up every day. The availability of POD (Print on Demand) and online resources like Amazon.com are making publishing more affordable in that authors are no longer forced to shell out thousands of dollars for hundreds of copies at a time. Companies like Eber & Wein Publishing are making smaller print runs available, which is good news for authors who are mainly concerned with creating a book to share with family and friends. Because of online availability through companies like Amazon, there is no need for self-published authors to sell dusty copies of their book out of an overcrowded garage. Interested buyers need only click on a button to have a book printed and shipped right to their doorstep.
Perhaps more significant, the books produced through self-publishing look just as professional as the ones you would find on the shelves in national bookstores. Although self-published authors are usually responsible for their own layout and printing costs, the process has become far more affordable in recent years. Many writers are able to publish a book for as little as $300–$400, a price many find reasonable in exchange for fulfilling a lifelong dream. Another plus about self-publishing is that there are far quicker turnaround times in comparison to a traditional publisher. Instead of waiting a year or more to see your book in print, self-publishing offers the ability to have a completed book in your hands in a matter of months, and in some cases, only weeks. Self-publishing also allows writers to maintain complete creative control and copyrights of their work.
There are, however, some caveats in relation to self-publishing. Sometimes authors are not realistic about their goals, and it is important to know what to expect before you embark on such an undertaking. Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions is that simply by publishing, you will automatically sell thousands of copies. The fact is that there are probably more books out there than there are people who will read them. Niche markets like poetry, while worthwhile to many, do not generally sell staggering amounts of books, a detail that is true even for most Pulitzer Prize-winning poets. This by no means implies that amateur writers should not publish, only that they should be realistic in what they hope to accomplish. Many self-published authors experience success on a moderate scale, often selling enough of their copies to recoup the cost of publication. For writers who have social networks, church groups, or other organizations to which they are connected, selling fifty to a hundred copies is an easily attainable goal, and by selling the book themselves, they see a much greater profit, even greater than if they sell the book online. Even writers who hope to publish through a traditional company in the future might benefit from starting with a self-published book. A professional presentation of your work is far more eye-catching than a handwritten manuscript submitted for review.
Quite often the happiest self-publishers are the ones who have one particular goal in mind: putting their thoughts and words into print so that they have a permanent legacy to pass down to future generations. Many self-published authors are not looking for fame and fortune. Rather, they want to have a lasting gift to share with family and friends. Until recently, most writers didn’t have the opportunity or means, certainly not without paying astronomical costs to do so. Now, publishing is accessible to the amateur writer, the hobbyist, and the professional hopeful, not just the next New York Times bestseller.