Time to come clean about the book!
I have a(n almost) working draft of my first non-fiction book and am now finding myself with very little knowledge of publishing. I started working on it almost a year ago as training materials for a class on LinkedIn for sales which never materialized and little by little it’s come together as a coherent book designed to help sales professionals use social media. I’ve been in stealth mode with this project for awhile now and decided it was time to involve more people, so I attended my first Nonfiction Authors Association meeting yesterday. (Micropitch: it was a productive event. I encourage East Bay non-fiction authors to check it out whether they’re contemplating their first idea or have published multiple works.)
One of the topics discussed was the decision whether to publish via a traditional publishing company or to self-publish using Amazon CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble IngramSpark, or one of the many companies which support authors who decide to take the self-publishing path. Having done neither, yet, I’m not in a position to give advice, but the pros and cons of each are pretty well mapped out. Forbes contributor Julia Pimsleur reviews the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. You earn a much higher percentage (around 70%?) by self-publishing, but you pay a lot of little expenses out of pocket (graphics, book design, editing) and you “only eat what you kill,” so to speak. In other words, if you sell nothing, you earn nothing and you’re still in the hole after initial expenses.
In contrast, traditional publishing pays roughly 15% (read the nine-page, single-space, eight point font contract for details) and can take a lot longer to find a publishing agent, and then land a publisher, and then go through a rigorous editing process, and finally publish. You will face a lot of rejection along the way, and if/when you do come to agreement with a publisher, you’ll find yourself inviting a congress of people into the decision making process. Suddenly you’ll need to share control of the project … something you don’t have to do when your project is a cozy affair between your brain and your laptop. But once published, your book will get a type of visibility which self-published authors must work incredibly hard to gain. Depending on various factors which are still a great mystery to me, your publisher can issue an advance to keep you going while
jumping hoops for the publisher polishing your finished work and consistently meeting deadlines.
I’m on the fence. I originally planned to self-publish and see what happens. Now I’ve invested enough time and energy into the project, that I’m pretty sure I’ll explore traditional publishing. I suspect that books on social selling are in enough demand to fare better going the traditional route, but well see. I’m glad to see that self-publishing seems to have lost the stigma it carried in the past, and that authors whose work serves a niche audience seem to have increasingly more options.