My RSS feed has been awash lately with blog posts on self-publishing. Author Amanda Hocking makes a ton of money self-publishing but then signs a book deal. Another author, Joe Konrath, writes again and again about how self-publishing is the way to go. Yet another author, Barry Eisler, turns down a mega book deal to self-publish. Then literary agent Nathan Bransford does his own calculations to figure out which publishing route is more lucrative, and Penelope Trunk says the promise of a book is more important nowadays than the title.
It’s enough to make your head spin.
Or, if you’re a reporter like me, it’s enough to make you want to synthesize all the information, draw conclusions, then write about it and let people talk.
So here’s my take on all of this self-publishing craziness:
1. If you can land a deal with a major publisher, you’re still better off going with them. You’ll make more money, have that publisher’s (diminishing) support for promotion and lack the (diminishing but persistent) stigma that still surrounds self-publishing.
But if you’re deciding between a small publisher (that pays small advances) and self-publishing, it’s a toss-up as to where you’ll make more money and see more success.
2. No matter which route you choose, you have to be entrepreneurial about your book. If you want to land a deal with a traditional publisher, you have to build an audience online who will buy that book, to convince a house to publish it. And if you choose self-publishing, you still have to build an audience online who will buy your book, even though they’re buying it directly from you.
To succeed in this competitive book business, you need an awesome platform no matter how you plan to publish your book.