There is nothing more satisfying than cracking open a good book and getting to the tender, juicy story inside. But how does a book get from the writer’s desk to the hungry reader’s lap? Lately, self-publishing has become a common answer to this question. The traditional approach to publishing a book is similar to any other entertainment industry. A writer first has to find an agent, and then they send their fledgling manuscript from publisher to publisher, all while hoping to convince one to consider publishing their work. Putting a book out for public consumption is, and always has been, a complicated process.
In addition to the actual construction and mass production of the book—including printing and binding—one also has to take into account marketing the book to potential audiences through paid reviews and advertising. In an attempt to bypass this cumbersome process for something simpler and more accessible, many authors have taken to self-publishing.
In essence, self-publishing is exactly what it sounds like: someone publishing their own book themselves. Several options exist for the aspiring self-publisher. These include traditional print publishing, publishing to e-book services—such as Amazon’s Kindle—and publishing to an audio-book service—such as Audible or Amazon’s Audiobook Creation Exchange.
In each case, authors can make their own decisions in regard to each step of the publishing process. To many, this is one of the great advantages the process holds over more traditional publishing methods. Authors who may have been turned away by big publishing companies or who are unwilling to alter their original manuscript still have the opportunity to publish their work.
This is not to say that the process doesn’t have its drawbacks. Despite the concept’s increasing popularity and the rise of Internet and digital printing, many within the literary world hold self-published books at a distance.
In her 2011 article “Options for Self-Publishing Proliferate, Easing the Bar to Entry,” New York Times’ Alina Tugend said, “I’m a snob … until recently, I turned up my nose at authors who published their own books.” The general consensus among serious readers has long been that self-published books are only self-published because they are not good enough to have been taken on by “real” publishers. The reality is that many authors choose to self-publish because it allows them greater control of their work both artistically and financially.
While all publishing contracts require some form of royalty for the publishing firm, companies that partner with self-publishers generally require much lower percentages of the book’s total earnings. For instance, Amazon’s Kindle offers 70 percent of all royalties earned to the authors who create the content on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. This higher percentage of returning income allows lesser-known writers a greater chance to continue doing what they love: writing more books for starved bookworms across the globe.
The art of self-publishing is rapidly changing the way that writers get their work to the general public for consumption. The constant rise of the Internet and services such as those offered by Amazon have made it easier for inspired individuals to reach potential audiences than ever before.
So, who knows? Before long, a self-published author might just write that next great book you crack open on a rainy day.