Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.Photo | Needpix.com

Self-publish or not, is the question

Additionally, the author must handle marketing, publicity and distribution, which are time-consuming.

This morning, I was shocked to see a self-publishing house using my picture without permission to lure people, falsely claiming I self-published 16 bestsellers. Not a single book of mine is self-published. Many unsuspecting writers told me they lost money to similar scams. At literary events, I am often asked by the audience whether self-publishing is a viable option.

When a traditional publisher accepts your manuscript, they bear entirely the costs associated with the book—printing, editing, cover design, the logistics of distribution to bookstores, marketing, events and promotions. Besides, you earn an advance which is later adjusted against royalties from the sales. A new writer typically gets 10 per cent. A legitimate traditional publisher will never charge an author any money. They recover their costs and make a profit when the book sells.

A self-publishing house, on the other hand, offers a higher royalty percentage, but the author must invest their own money for publication, including paying for a good editor, proofreader and cover designer. Additionally, the author must handle marketing, publicity and distribution, which are time-consuming.

The allure of self-publishing is tantalising due to its quicker turnaround time, higher promised royalties, and complete control over the book. There are also massive success stories like Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad and Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, which were first self-published. However, the success stories are few compared to the tonnes of self-published books languishing in warehouses and people’s homes with no takers. The other advantage self-publishing offers is that you do not have to face the dreaded rejection slips. My own book, Life is What You Make It, which has sold over a million copies was rejected over 40 times.

However, I would still opt for traditional publishing. It is an open secret in the literary world, that a self-published author is not considered equal to a traditionally published one Anyone can get published via self-publishing as all you require is to pay up. Self-published books are also not eligible for many prestigious literary prizes.

Traditional publishing requires patience and persistence as you take over a year to write a book, six months for publishers to respond, and another year for release. If your goal is to just get the book out, because it is time-sensitive and personally important to you—say a biography about your parents—then it might make sense to consider self-publishing, especially if the number of copies you want out are limited. But if you are in it for the long run and want someone else other than yourself to see the merits in your book, then the long wait is definitely worth it.

Preeti Shenoy

Novelist, Illustrator, Speaker

Instagram: @preeti.shenoy

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The New Indian Express
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