1.4 Publishers, Agents, and Other Things You Don't Need
I've always dreamed of landing a book deal.
You know, a fancy person in a suit calling me up out of the blue and saying "Alyssa, you're brilliant. I want to publish your book. Here's a million dollars."
Oddly, that has never happened.
While you can spend your time researching publishers, writing book proposals, and finding an agent, this course is for those who want to take the self-publishing route. Also known as the I-don't-need-your-permission-I'm-gonna-do-it-anyway route.
I wanted to include this lesson because sometimes self-publishing doesn't feel as real as traditional publishing. You're choosing yourself and doing it on your own, and it's only natural to feel like maybe you're missing out by going this route.
So I'm sharing why I think self-publishing is the best way to go and why you don't need fancy person in a suit publishing your book for you.
Traditional Publishing versus Self-Publishing
Traditional publishing is when a book publishing company buys the rights to your book. You'll likely receive an advance for writing the book as well as royalties for book sales (but those royalties don't necessarily kick in until after you've sold your first 5, 10, 20 thousand copies depending on your deal).
I've had friends earn anywhere from $5,000 to $150,000 in book advances—a number that is typically determined by a combination of previously sold books, online authority and reach, and how important you are in the world. (The friend with the six-figure book deal had previously reached 5 MILLION people on Youtube).
For most of my friends, they received closer to $5,000 for their first book advance, with reaches in the thousands.
And while I'd like to traditional publish a book someday, I don't see how giving up the rights to your book for $5,000 is worth it for a new author. Especially when you factor in what percentage of profits from your book will go directly to your publisher and how much work you have to do to land the deal in the first place! You're giving up a lot of your time, freedom, and earning potential.
Plus, having worked on book launches with published authors in the past, publishers don't offer that much. They will give you feedback, proofreading, and an editor throughout the writing process, but marketing the book falls to the author. The most valuable thing a publisher offers is distribution. They can get your book in every major bookstore in the country.
And in today's world...that doesn't mean much.
Book stores have been closing down for years (cue the tears) but with the rise of Amazon and ebooks, this doesn't necessarily mean that book sales are down. Really, you have more ways to get your book into reader's hands than ever.
Since this was the main perk of a publisher, you really don't need them much anymore, if you ask me.
Do I still want to traditionally publish a book? Yes, cause it would be amazing to be a published author with a big publisher.
But is it the best way to get your book out there? Not necessarily.
Publishers used to be the gatekeepers, the people granting you permission before your message could reach the world. Now, the largest amount of people who buy books are doing so every day on Amazon and you don’t need anyone’s permission to publish there. You still need a great product, a great message and the tools to get there — but the traditional means of reaching an audience exclusively through publishers is over.
The Scary Truth About Self-Publishing
At present, I think self-publishing is the way to go. There are low barriers to entry, you can get your book on Amazon easily, and start selling to anyone in the world. (Okay technically there are only 12 countries in which people can order ebooks on Amazon but when someone in Italy or Brazil emails you to say they bought your book, you'll start to feel like a worldwide phenomenon).
But despite how easy it may be to get your book online, that doesn't always mean your book will sell.
From my research, the average book sells 2,000-3,000 copies in it's lifetime. Lifetime. Say your books lifetime is ten years—that means you're only selling 250 copies a year. Even at $10 each, which would be high for an ebook, you're looking at make less than $2,000/year in profits.
And worse, rumor is that the average self-published author only sells 250 copies. EVER.
I've read a bunch of articles on this trying to find hard facts behind this research, but they all just say the same depressing numbers.
That's the scary part of self-publishing. The odds are against you. Most self-published authors won't be successful.
You'll need a good bit of grit and determination—and a killer marketing strategy.
In Module 5, I'll share all the marketing tactics and strategies that I've used to make my own book successful so that you don't fall into those terrible statistics.
Now, let's start writing your book.