If you are an author, you know the hard decision to either self-publish your work or wait months, or longer, to hook a traditional publisher. I am ready to make that decision with my fifth book What is and isn't Working for the Alcoholic or Addict: In Their Own Words. Being my fifth book coming up and after having had all four self-published, you might wonder, why is she in limbo making a decision?
Well, money is one great factor. When an author has multiple books out you have to not only "pay" to print your book with self-publishing, you have to purchase hundreds of your own books to book sign, do talks, go to festival and so forth. The well does run dry, unless you have "a book" or multiple ones that are on the number one hit list.
I am more concern with a decision because with this new book, which is a Narrative Non-Fiction, it is written by 34 recovery addicts who had opened up their hearts to tell their private life with their recovery programs. I want to do good by them. At the moment, I have Hunter House reading my book proposal and an agent reading my manuscript, which is a first with getting any attention with a publisher and agent. I guess you could call it "Frosting on the Cake" for an author.
Then I started to wonder; is it the frosting? Going to a workshop last week run by an agent, I had to re-think my thoughts when she explained the percentage that the agent, publishing house and distributor takes before the author gets "maybe" 3% royalties. If you get upfront money to promote (sometimes $5,000), you may not see a royalty for over two years until the loan is paid back to the publisher. If the book is not moving by six months, the publisher can pull the book and stop print. No matter which way you go, the author does 90% promoting and marketing.
At the moment, I'm giving myself two or three months to see what comes out of the people reviewing my work, on top of the 20-30 publishers and other agents I wrote to introducing my new book. We all may feel our book is great and has a message or we wouldn't write it. The hook is to get the publisher or agent believe in it.
What is and isn't Working for the Alcoholic or Addict may become an educational book to doctors, counselor, other addicts, and family members to read to learn what the addicts are trying to say did or didn't help them with their programs. They are also telling what family members need to do to support them during this time.
I had another author, Alice J. Wisler, write me because she had a traditional publisher and is going to self-publish now. Of course, it only confused me a little more with a decision. Below is her answer to me.
"My first novel, Rain Song, sold over 40,000 print copies in the first year. I did virtually nothing to promote sales online because I was not part of Goodreads, not on Facebook or Twitter, or any other social media group at the time of its publication (2008). Bethany House promoted me as a brand new author of theirs and must have put a lot of money into getting me out there. I received a nice advance (well above the average for a first time novelist) which I made back within the year due to book sales being strong.
"I will be self-publishing my third cookbook of memories this summer. I like the self-pub process. I like having control, and once the printing costs are paid off (I plan to use a printer as I have before) and all the other costs that go along with having a print book published, I look forward to earning from it and not having to wait for royalty checks to come quarterly or bi-annually from a traditional publisher.
"Yes, I do like the control, but of course, I won't have the following that go along with signing a contract with a reputable publisher:
* a nice advance check
* the advantage of a publishing house's publicist promoting me and lining up book events and radio shows
* somebody editing my work for me for free
* copies of my book sent out via the publisher for reviews, contests, etc.
* my publisher buying ad space in magazines to promote my work
* marketing perks like bookmarks, postcards, posters and other items
* my publisher doing the leg work to get my work into stores like LifeWay, Sam's Club, Walmart, Family Christian, etc.
* my publisher promoting my books at events like the annual International Christian Retail Show
"The thrill of signing a contract with a reputable publisher is unlike any other and I would do it again . . . and again . . . ."
Alice J. Wisler