There isn’t very much choice today with regards to self-publishing versus traditional publishing for authors. Traditional publishers are only putting up the funds to market those authors that have a proven track record for selling books. For those titles that they do sign (unless you just wrote The Hobbit), the author is required to hire/pay for their own book marketing services and they are given a specific amount of time to sell a certain number of books. If that author fails to do so, the publisher will pull their label. I know this first hand because I have been asked to provide marketing services for an author who is publishing his 9th book and is in this exact situation with a large traditional publisher.
His disadvantage in this situation is that he is putting up the funds for marketing and is only getting a 10% royalty on book sales AND he doesn’t own the rights to his book. Why not just self-publish? When you self-publish (assuming you use a company that provides very strategic marketing to promote your book) you earn 50% of the royalties (or more in some cases) and you own ALL of the rights. However, buyer beware! I have run across many authors who invested their money to have their manuscript self-published only to find that they are left with nothing more than a box of books in the trunk of their car that only get sold if they are good sales people.
It is frustrating to see the number of companies out there who are nothing more than glorified book printers but position themselves into the marketplace as “publishers.” They have no concept of audience appeal when it comes to designing the book cover and especially no experience in actually marketing books other than posting it to their website. These companies are banking on the fact that writers invest their heart and soul into writing their manuscript with the hopes and dreams of having a masterpiece, and are willing to spend their savings in order to get their book published.
Unfortunately for the unsuspecting author, getting your book cover designed, manuscript typeset, and the book printed is not what makes the book successful or generate book sales. It takes so much more than that. It take precision in the plan of action. Who is your reading audience? What should your front cover look like so that you can appeal to their interests? How are you going to spread the word to the buying public that your book is available? Writers today are one of 350,000 new books being published annually.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that it takes nothing more than the services of an “assisted self-publishing company” to make your book a success. If you are fooled, you will have nothing more than a conversation piece for those who visit your home and ask what the stack of books are that clutter the corner of your dining room. As I’ve said many times when speaking to groups of writers and meeting with individual authors; the success of a book is not merely by its content but rather by the quality of its marketing.