This is a guest post by Monique Domovitch
The book as a product
Imagine for a moment that you are an inventor and have just invented a new gadget. You’ve invested hours of your time creating it, and you’ve shown it to your mother, your spouse, your best friend and the mailman. Everyone agrees that your product is brilliant. You are certain that your invention will sell by the thousands—just as soon as you can find a manufacturer to produce it, and then stores to sell it.
This is the position in which new authors find themselves every time they finish a novel. They’ve worked long and hard on their book. They’ve made it as entertaining or educational as they possibly can. They feel sure that if only a publisher would please, please publish and distribute it, the book would work its way to the bestseller lists all on its own. And maybe, just maybe, they are right. But…
Some daunting statistics
According to a 2003 survey from the Jenkins Group, Inc., a Michigan publishing services firm, 81 percent of Americans feel they should write a book. I believe that. We all know somebody who dreams of someday writing a book. Not counting myself, I know about a dozen such people.
If we do a bit of calculating, taking into consideration that there are 312,700,742 people living in the United States, 81 % means that 253,287,601 of Americans dream of writing a book; and according to another statistic, only 10 % of them will actually attempt it, which brings the number down to 25,328,760. We’re still talking a lot of people here. Of those, only about 10% actually finish a book, bringing the number down to 2,532,876—still a lot of people. Of those, only 10% actually find an agent and only another 5 % get published. That’s brings the total to 12,664, which in my estimation is still an optimistic number.
Some great books never get published
When I look at these numbers, the first thing that I think is that surely, among the books that were rejected, there must be some that are so great that, given a chance, would have become best sellers. But for one reason or another, they just didn’t get picked up.
So if you are an author wannabe, and have devoted time and energy to your novel, and are sure your book is wonderful, what are you supposed to do? Let that manuscript gather dust somewhere? Abandon your ambition of being an author as no more than a pipe dream?
The alternative is to start your own business
There is another alternative—self publishing. That’s right. What in the old days they used to call vanity publishing, which, by the way, is a term to which I take offense. If we were talking about any other product than a book, people would applaud the efforts of the inventor for manufacturing his product. They would see this person’s effort for what it truly is, entrepreneurship. Yes, that is exactly what the self-published author is, an entrepreneur. He is the inventor of a product about which he feels so strongly that he chooses to invest into the production, advertising and distribution of it.
Self-publishing as a business
However, like anybody starting a business, this author had better approach self-publishing like the business it is. This means doing the homework, starting with finding out what kind of books are selling these days. I’m talking here about, not only subject and/or genre, but also physical format. Should he go for hardcover? Paperback? Ebook? He needs to know the cost of producing his books and how many he needs to sell to break even. He also needs to know about advertising, which means not only paid advertising but also social media.
Can an author make money by self publishing?
Look at a few of the self-published authors like Amanda Hocking and John Locke. These are just two of the authors who have sold over 1,000,000 books without the benefit of traditional publishing houses. There are countless other authors, not nearly as famous, who sell enough of their books to not only cover their costs but to make a profit.
So if your question is, can you make money self publishing your own novels? The answer is a resounding,yes. But before you take the jump, do yourself a favor and take a look at self publishing from a business point of view. You will have a much better chance of making a few bucks if you approach it that way. And if, after doing this, you still want to self publish, then a good way to start might be to do some research and find out how the big sellers have done it. Learn what you can about starting a small business. And then be prepared to work hard.
If all of this has left you a bit intimidated at the thought of going for it, remember this. When you love what you do, the hard work isn’t all that hard after all.
About the Author: Monique Domovitch began writing at the age of fifty-five. Two years later, she has two self-published novels—her Scorpio Series—and a three-book deal with Penguin, for books she has written under the name of Carol Ann Martin. Never seen without her laptop, Monique and her husband travel the world and divide the rest of their time between their homes in British Columbia and California. Monique loves to hear from readers!