Many authors will probably agree on the one question they frequently hear from non-authors: Can you really profit from self-publishing? The short answer is absolutely yes. But it takes work, like anything else, and quality is key.
The January 2015 authorearnings.com report states that by mid-year 2014, 40% of all dollars earned by authors from the sale of e-books on Amazon.com were from books published by Indie authors. Big Five publisher e-book authors fell into second place at 35%. From a sales perspective, the Indie market is strong. But this does not guarantee that a particular Indie author’s book will sell or that this trend will continue. Quality remains a key factor.
Self-publishing can be a straightforward process, as online publishers provide ‘How to’ manuals, and there are good support groups available (See my previous post Traditional vs. Indie Publishing.) However, this should not tempt writers to skip the quality-control chain. To succeed and protect the reputation of the Indie industry, Indies should seek professional help for areas they cannot (or should not) support on their own. These include cover design, editing, proofreading, formatting, and promotion. Even authors published by “The Big Five” have found errors in their books after publication. Some had to republish because of major errors, even after many professionals vetted the final manuscript. This goes to show no one is infallible. Sometimes there are just not enough eyes. Still, it is very important to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Preserving quality is time-consuming and may prevent the author from focusing on what they love: writing.
For authors who simply do not have the budget to engage professionals to assist their quality process, there are affordable and “for-the-love-of-the-art” providers out there. Some authors are also designers, editors, and proofreaders and can barter with other authors for services. Start by looking at provider lists like Mark’s List from Smashwords. Amazon and CreateSpace provide design packages and other options, including DIY cover platforms. Qualified writer groups can also facilitate provider lists.
As with any purchase, the practice of “Buyer Beware” applies. Indie authors must conduct their due diligence. In my experience, this industry supports ‘their own,’ for the most part.
So, yes, Indies can indeed profit. The reader market has spoken. But the same quality rules apply to this industry than to the traditional publishing industry, and Indies should remain vigilant, or the Indie industry may take a different turn.
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