- No products in the cart.
by Deborah Greenspan
Once, there were few options when you wanted to publish a book, but today, even though the big publishers are not looking for you, there are other ways. There was a time when it cost thousands upon thousands of dollars to publish a book. And anyone who wanted to go outside the publishing establishment to the so-called vanity press had to fork over a bundle of cash. Not so anymore. Print-on-demand technology has made it possible to cost-effectively publish a book. With this technology, any writer can take control of his or her own work and get it out before its real audience—readers—without going through the gatekeepers of the publishing houses.
But does it work? Do authors make any money when they publish a book? Here are the numbers: Publishing today is a multi-billion dollar industry dominated by 10 companies. The Association of American Publishers/Book Industry Study Group, reported: “Sales of hardcovers rose 1.3% in the year, to $5.06 billion, and trade paperback sales increased slightly, up 0.4% to $4.96 billion….Total ebook sales rose 44.2% in 2012, to $3.04 billion and accounted for 20% of trade revenue,” which tells us that in 2012, 13 billion dollars were spent on books, not counting mass market paperbacks, audio books etc.
The number of books that were self-published has nearly tripled in volume, growing 287 percent since 2006 with more than 391,000 print and “e” titles available in 2011, according to Bowker Books in Print. Ebook sales of trade titles rose 44% in 2012 and have skyrocketed an astounding 4,660% since the format first began to gain traction in 2008, according to BookStats, with sales of over $3 billion in 2012.
The money is there to be made, so if ideas like “vanity press” disturb you, consider this: The term, vanity press was actually invented early in the twentieth century by the publishing industry. It was a great idea at the time, neatly cutting off competition from monied writers who didn’t like the financial terms imposed on them by publishers. These days, when you publish a book, the idea of the vanity press is no longer relevant.
There’s no reason for a writer to hesitate to publish a book today, and every reason to do it. Even if you’re looking for mainstream publication, you have a better chance of getting it with a published book than with an unpublished manuscript. Just the fact that your book is in print makes it that much more accessible to editors. It’s easier to read; it can be reviewed; it can build a following, and traditional publishers can track the sales figures. When they see a title selling, they want it. James Redfield of Celestine Prophecy fame, for instance, was turned down by every editor he approached before he went ahead and self-published. Publishers would have continued to look down their noses at him if he hadn’t sold 100,000 books out of the trunk of his car. At that point, Warner Books decided they wanted him after all.
The point is that all the editors were wrong. The world was ready for Redfield despite what the editors thought of his writing. Keep this in mind when you start to get scared that your book isn’t good enough. You may not be Hemingway, but somewhere in this vast world are people who are interested in what you have to say, and when you publish a book, you’re on the road to finding them.