Is self-publishing on Amazon worth it? I share my thoughts and experience with the self-publishing process from start to finish in this article
I remember the first time I attempted to self-publish a book a long time ago, I tried to use a vanity press.
In a great appreciation of my gullibility, they sent me an invoice for over $10,000 for the process from start to finish including about 500 copies of the book.
At the time, I felt it wasn’t practicable financially to print 500 copies of something I didn’t know if anyone would buy.
Plus the entire process was marred in too much secrecy and I don’t like that at all so I pulled back to educate myself a bit.
That was when I learned about Kindle and Createspace Publishing. These platforms were just picking up traction back in those days.
Self-publishers were still looked down upon then. Like once you’ve self-published, you’re tainted forever level of looked down upon. This made me apprehensive about self-publishing.
However, I had an audience waiting for the book and I already had a platform I was going to sell it from so what did I have to lose?
Is Publishing on Amazon Worth It for Authors?
I found it worth it but there were a few things I had to learn. I also had to change my approach to self-publishing.
With a publisher out of the equation, it meant I had to do all the work including marketing.
I started with 1 non-fiction book on Kindle but that wasn’t my only sales platform. I also had a sales platform on my website via Gumroad and my mailing list.
A few months after launching on Kindle, I tried Createspace (now Kindle Direct Publishing).
It was a bit more technical to set up and formatting my book took forever but I eventually got it done.
With the paperback also available, the sales of the book shot up. Finally, I parlayed the first book into a series that now includes 5 books.
It was a lot of work and I had to do it all myself but I also received all of the rewards and most of the royalties.
My website had been up for almost 3 years when I released the first book so the audience was already there.
My next few articles will share book marketing tips for writers. Even if you publish traditionally, you will still be expected to do a lot of legwork marketing-wise.
The best thing about self-publishing? I didn’t have to buy any inventory. I only order a paperback when someone makes a purchase aka POD (print on demand).
I retain the rights to all my books and can make changes and upload them at any time.
How Much Have I Made Self-Publishing?
I know a lot of people have no problem splashing those figures everywhere online. I’m not one of those people and find the practice vulgar.
I will however say I’ve made enough to be self-employed since late 2014 and do more of the things I love. And I worked damned hard for every last penny.
It’s not easy but the rewards are there if you’re willing to make a plan and work smart.
Is It Better to Self-Publish or Get a Publisher?
There are pros and cons to both sides but consider the following from a self-publisher perspective:-
1. Most of the Profits Come to You
As a self-publisher, you get to keep most of the profits on your book sales and those royalties are paid out weekly or monthly depending on the sales platform.
2. You Own All Rights
As a self-publisher, you own all the worldwide rights to your book and can do as you please with them.
3. You Retain Creative Control
As a self-publisher, you have complete creative and artistic control over your work.
I was a little alarmed when I found out that traditional publishing takes this out of your hands.
So you have to sit there and like it while they carve your shit up any which way to match commercialization standards.
4. No Unnecessary Pressure
All the deadlines I have are the ones I set for myself. No one is standing on my neck expecting me to deliver something or risk losing my contract.
I work smarter, not harder, and adjust deadlines as necessary.
5. Regular PayDays
The paydays of traditional publishing tend to be far and in-between but with self-publishing, you’re paid weekly, biweekly, or monthly depending on the platform.
This will give you some leeway to make proper financial plans.
6. No Worries About Rejection
As a self-publisher, you don’t have to worry about sending off a million queries and receiving a million rejections.
You publish when you want, how you want, and what you want. Just make sure you self-publish good stuff.
When you publish traditionally, you lose out on all of the advantages above.
Are you worried about self-publishing costs? Check out my analysis below.
How Much Does It Cost to Self-Publish a Book?
Here are the kind of costs involved in self-publishing a book:-
- Cover design – $100 – $500
- Editing – $500 – $1500
- Formatting – $500 – $1,000
- Marketing – $100 – $1,000
- Proof copies – $50
Depending on the type of book as well as the word count, it can cost anything from $1,300 – $3,000 for the whole process.
The only thing I splurge on is editing. I’m a creative artist so I format myself, design my covers, and do most of the marketing.
I found good and affordable editors from recommendations on Goodreads.
3 Reasons I Succeeded as a Non-fiction Author
There are three major things I attribute to my non-fiction success:-
1. Niche-Specific Topics
My book topics are in a specific niche I was interested in and began blogging about long before I thought of writing a book.
Then I surveyed my mailing list and website visitors for their pain points and addressed those pain points in my book.
2. Ready Audience
The audience was already there before I started writing my first book. Build the audience first.
That is one of the most important things. I always encourage authors to have a website with a blog section.
For more on this and a checklist, have a look at Do I Need An Author Website?
3. Businessperson Mindset
I do not think of myself as just a writer. I think of myself as a writer who is also an entrepreneur. This comes with a different mindset.
I develop a comprehensive strategy around every publication beyond just writing it.
A lot of writers want to write and be done with it but if you want to self-publish and you want to actually make money, you need to work on your businessperson mindset.
Now, are you thinking, “If you have a successful non-fiction career, why are going the traditional route for fiction publication?”
I will explore that in a later article. Stay tuned.
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