When you hear the term “self-publishing”, what comes to mind? For me, it’s a crazy neighbour who’s sure her life story would top the best sellers list. She’s spent the last 20 years writing the manuscript (probably by hand) and has already picked Meryl Streep to play her in the film version.
Yeah, it’s hard to see self-published writers as being respectable, editorially approved authors. But times are changing. Helen Brown, Telegraph writer of Unleash your inner novelist, says that the public has a newfound respect for self-published authors. She writes, “Commentators who once derided ‘vanity published’ writers are now beginning to acknowledge an empowered DIY culture. It’s no longer publishing for rejects, but ‘alternative publishing’; a bold stance outside the homogenised mainstream.”
The perks are obvious: complete control over the editorial, advertising, distribution, format and artwork. Then again, the publishing industry would say that it’s their decisions on such aspects that make a book successful.
While it’s a risky enterprise, self-published books can be successful. Take the best-selling cookbook series 4 Ingredients, which was started by Australian entrepreneurs Rachael Bermingham and Kim McCosker who, after being repeatedly rejected by mainstream publishers, decided to self-publish. Their three books have sold over 2.5 million copies in three years. The secret to their success? Determination, self-belief and self-promotion. As soon as they had published their first cookbook and printed 2000 copies, they went straight to the newspapers with their unique story. In an interview with ABC, Bermingham says:
We rang every publisher in Australia and nobody wanted to know us…They said the cookbook market was saturated and our little book came out with no pictures in it; it wasn’t particularly fantastic to look at…It was easy, simple and cheap and everyone said, ‘the green cover won’t work and what’s this ugly number four on the front’…blah blah. In the industry’s eyes we did everything wrong from the get-go. But in hindsight we did everything right!
Before taking out a loan to fund your literary project, would-be authors should think the decision through carefully. Home Biz Notes offers some words of warning for anyone interested in self publishing.