Many of our clients wrestle with the question of whether they should go straight to self-publishing their book, or whether they should try and get a publishing deal. In fact, I was having this conversation in a book coaching call a couple of days ago and I thought I really ought to write a blog post about it.
In reality, if you’re writing a business book, the choice is perhaps easier to make than you might imagine.
There are plenty of mainstream business book publishers out there, of course there are…however, the experience of being traditionally published is not always what authors expect.
Self-publishing can be a great idea for business book authors for the following reasons:
- You can publish your book QUICKLY. If it’s written or you can write it fast, then you can get it out there, which is great if you want to capture the zeitgeist and write about a topical matter. Contrast that with the experience an author we heard of recently who was overjoyed to get a publishing deal, followed swiftly by disappointment when she was given a publication date TWO YEARS away.
- You can decide on the formats and distribution methods that work for your audience and match your goals. Format choices could be print on demand, an e-book or an audiobook, or all of the above! Your book might act as a business card for your enterprise or for a particular service, which is often the case. In that context, you don’t necessarily need to create a product that will sell to as many people as possible. When you self-publish, you can also distribute copies as you wish, so if you wanted to operate a buy one, gift one model, for example, that would be absolutely fine!
- You retain complete control of your own work. You can be the decision-maker for every choice that needs to be made regarding your book, if you self-publish. That is not the case if your book is published by a traditional publisher. Their goal will be to create a product that will sell as many copies as possible, which is quite reasonable in the circumstances. If not all of their choices are necessarily what you as the author would prefer, then that’s too bad.
- Royalties! If you self-publish, you will receive a much higher percentage of your royalties. A traditional publisher will pay to get your book written, produced and published. They will need to sell thousands of copies to make that investment back. As the author, you won’t see a penny until their costs have been covered. In fact, watch out, because sometimes publishers will have a clause in their contract with you that specifies that you have to buy unsold books back from them if not enough copies are sold.
- Whether you publish traditionally or self-publish, you’ll still need to have a significant audience ready and waiting to buy your book. Publishers are looking for an email list of over 1,000 subscribers at the very least and social media followers in the thousands (per channel). They will expect you to have an established platform from which you will be selling your book, otherwise they won’t consider giving you a deal – and then there’s the content to take into account! If you’re self-publishing, you will know what your book needs to do for you and so your sales targets may be more modest, depending on your goals.
“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
CRUCIAL INFO ALERT! Although, under UK law, authors automatically have copyright over the content in their book, if the author doesn’t own their ISBN(s) (International Standard Book Number) then there could be trouble ahead. All traditional publishers and most of the hybrid ones (ask me if you don’t know who I mean!) will own your ISBNs, one per format. Whoever owns the ISBN owns the right to reprint the book. Imagine if you fall out with your publisher, or worse, if they go bust…..I’ll leave that thought with you.
That’s why my business partner in the BizBook Foundry, Catherine Williams, and I firmly believe that authors should retain ownership of their ISBNs, as much as possible. Anyone self-publishing with us will do.
It is a personal choice whether to approach publishers and literary agents to seek a traditional publishing deal, or whether to go down the self-publishing route. The type of book that you are publishing and its potential appeal to a wide audience will be key factors in your decision-making process. There’s no guarantee that you will be able to secure a publishing deal, naturally, so some authors will keep self-publishing in mind as their Plan B.
I hope you found this information both interesting and helpful. If you’re not sure which choice is the right one for you and your book, then please do get in touch and we can talk it through.
You can arrange a completely free, no-obligation chat with us here.