|Steve spends an afternoon reading ....|
News alert! Today security is heavy on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam:
- In the morning, the H50 cast visits my son's elementary school to promote healthy living to military families.
- In the afternoon, Mrs. Obama is speaking to military spouses during a job fair.
I'll provide a full report on Tuesday!
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome back Ashley March. She hit the ground running with two traditionally published books, SEDUCING THE DUCHESS and ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, with an ebook in between, ROMANCING LADY CECILY. Now Ashley is venturing into self publishing. I asked Ashley if she would blog about the impact of self publishing to readers. Take it away, Ashely!
Why Self-Publishing is Good for Readers
I’m thrilled to be back here at SOS Aloha once again! Although I visited the blog in September to celebrate the release of my latest book, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS, Kim invited me to return today to talk about self-publishing.
In the past year or so, the digital revolution has not only revolutionized the way that readers buy their books and read them; it has also revolutionized the publishing industry and the way that authors are now able to publish their books. As both a reader and a writer, I’m fortunate to have the perspective of both worlds. I’m sure that some readers here know a lot about self-publishing, but for those who don’t, I thought I’d explain from this dual perspective why I believe self-publishing is good for readers (not listed in any particular order).
Note: For my purposes, traditional publishing does not refer to New York publishers most of the time, but to any publisher who is not the author.
1) Writers who self-publish can write that they want to write.
Generally, this means that, as a reader, you will be able to find more varied stories. For historical romance specifically, this means that self-published authors may feel free to write outside the Regency period to explore a wealth of other historical settings. I know we all love the Regency period (I don’t know of any historical fan that doesn’t) but I also know that many of us long for variety. For those of you who love westerns, this means that authors who have always loved westerns, too, are now only driven by their creativity, not by what their publisher believes they can sell. The same with colonial America, a setting I often hear that readers want more of. This is only the historical genre I’m talking about, too. I’ve heard that romantic suspense self-published authors are finding a great audience as well. The bottom line? With the freedom of being able to write what they want to write, authors have a greater chance of now connecting with readers who want to read those specific stores, too.
2) Writers who self-publish can publish when they want to publish.
I don’t know about you, but when I find a writer I adore, it seems that they can’t write fast enough; I devour every book of theirs I can get my hands on. With the traditional publishing world, once an author turns a manuscript in, it usually takes 12-18 months (if not longer) for that book to be published—although it’s true that digital publishers such as Samhain and Carina take much less time. Granted, not all self-published writers will be able to publish more than 1 or 2 books a year even out on their own, but with authors no longer having to wait for the usual cycle inside a publishing house, they can get their manuscript edited, cover art created, and entire book published within a matter of months from the time of completion. This means they can publish more books a year, which means that we, devoted readers that we are, can read more from our favorite authors each year than we could have with traditionally published books.
3) We can read backlist titles from authors who have their rights reverted.
For those authors who have previous books that have gone out of print and who now own their rights, they are able to self-publish these old books to find new audiences. For readers, this means that we can often read books that we were never able to find in the store and which might have been expensive to find as used copies. Depending on the price (and most backlist titles are priced at lower rates, I’ve found), it means that we can glom these old books of our favorite authors (as I’ve recently done with Laura Lee Guhrke), and it means that we can discover new-to-us authors as well (which recently happened to me with Candice Hern).
4) Self-published authors make more money.
Assuming that their self-published books sell, of course, self-published authors make more money off of their self-published books than they would have if the books were traditionally published. The standard right now in traditional publishing—at least in the romance genre—is for authors to receive 8% royalties for mass market paperbacks and 25% for digital royalties (and those are percentages off of the publisher’s net profit, not gross). Just to compare with Amazon—currently the largest of the digital e-retailers—the lowest percentage authors can receive (depending on how they price their books) is 35%. The highest is 70%.
Let me give you an example. Suppose someone buys a traditionally published book in digital format at $7.99. Although 25% of that would be $1.99, usually the author receives even less than that amount because, again, the author is not receiving 25% of the gross profit, but 25% of the publisher’s net profit. This can vary, of course, but let’s just say that author is really earning $1.00 from that $7.99 traditionally published e-book. And it costs the reader $7.99 to buy.
Now suppose someone buys a self-published book in digital format at $4.99 (a price which allows for Amazon’s 70% royalty rate). While Amazon does take some fees out of these royalties (this is why Whispernet is free for the consumer; it’s taken out of royalties), the majority of that 70% goes to the author. So instead of $1.00 (if that much) from a traditionally published e-book, a self-published author could make $3.00+. Who wins in this situation? Both the reader and the author; the reader is paying less for a digital book, and the author is receiving more for their hard-earned work. Even if you look at an ebook priced at $2.99, the author still receives more for that book than they would have with a publishing company. In addition, some authors now have stores on their websites where readers can purchase and download files for your specific e-reader directly, giving the author 100% of profits (minus any Paypal/other merchant fees for the transaction, which are minimal).
Of course, everyone is happy if the reader saves money and the author makes money. But what’s most important about this? Most importantly, authors who are able to make more money from self-publishing can support themselves better from their writing, which in turns mean that they’re more likely to be able to pursue writing as a full-time career (or, in some cases, to continue writing at all). With traditional publishing, unless you’re one of the very, very lucky few, you might not ever be able to quit your day job. And although not everyone will be able to quit their day job with self-publishing, of course, the greater amount of money earned per book makes this possibility much more likely. And the more books an author is able to write means that we have more books to read. It’s a reader’s paradise. =)
5) Many self-published authors do not include DRM restrictions.
If you’re not familiar with this term “DRM”, that’s okay. I’m not even going to bother explaining what it stands for. The most important thing to note about this is that DRM sets limits on who around the world is able to access an e-book. Most traditional publishers practice DRM restriction. The idea is that DRM restrictions keep people from certain geographic locations unable to access the book because those rights haven’t been granted; it also tries to protect against piracy. What really happens, though, is that people who do pirate are usually technologically savvy enough to know how to break these DRM restrictions and pirate the book anyway. In truth, the only people DRM hurts are the frustrated readers who want to read the book but can’t because of the DRM settings, and who (and I’m not excusing this here, just stating what happens) might buy the pirated book or download it for free at a pirate site (which still gets paid from sponsors) because all they want to do is read it.
Self-published authors generally do not set DRM restrictions, but make their books available worldwide. This means that international readers can access the book through the usual means and buy the legal copy. In general, I believe that 99% of readers do value an author’s work and do believe that it’s only fair to pay them for that work—and so those who might have downloaded pirated books in the past will hopefully support authors with buying legal copies, and not setting DRM restrictions makes this easier for everyone.
6) Print is still possible with self-published books.
The majority of readers I talk to seem to think that self-published=digital. While this is true for a percentage of books, most savvy authors value readers who still love reading print as equally as they value digital readers. The difference is that most self-published books are print-on-demand (POD). With POD you can order it online and have it shipped to you, or you can also usually order it through your local bookstore. The truth is that less and less—even traditionally published—books are being stocked on bookstore shelves now, so that only new releases of the better known authors are being put on display for print readers. Many readers (myself included) have experienced making a trip to the bookstore, only to find that the books I expected to be there—and honestly should have been there, since they were new releases—were not.
The other factor to keep in consideration with POD books is that most POD publishers only offer trade paperbacks, not the mass market size. This might mean that it costs more to buy the POD book, which is certainly an important factor, but print books can be available with self-published books—it just depends on the individual author and what they have decided to do.
To the self-published authors and most readers who buy self-published books, self-publishing is a win-win situation. Am I saying that traditionally published books are evil and that readers should stop buying these altogether? Certainly not. Some authors don’t want to take care of everything that comes along with self-publishing; they’d rather leave that up to a publisher. I’m certainly not saying that traditionally published books are of a lesser caliber than self-published books, or that any reader should have a moral obligation to buy one book over another depending on how they’re published. A reader’s right to buy and read what they choose is sacred in my opinion (and I’m speaking as a reader myself, too). If anything, I believe self-publishing is good for the industry as a whole because, just like it does for authors, self-publishing gives readers choices.
Am I saying that all self-published books are equal in terms of quality, either in editing/formatting or plot structure? Of course not. It’s true that there are some authors out there who are so anxious to make money that they’ll make a book available before it’s ready. But just like we readers do now, I think we know how to sort the dross from the gold. We read excerpts or samples; we check other readers’ ratings; we read reviews from trusted book bloggers and other review sources. And just like we currently check out a book from the library to see if we like the author’s work, with self-published books we might find a free or low-priced book that we can take a chance on to see if we’ll like other books from that author.
Why am I telling you all this? Because the book industry is changing, and as a reader who invests both your time and money, you deserve to be informed. As someone who has the perspective of both sides, and as an author who has been traditionally published for three books but will soon be going the self-publishing route entirely (you can see my blog here for why I made this decision), I hope that I’ve helped you understand a little more about self-publishing and why it’s good for you, too.
How much do you know about the changes going on in the publishing industry? Did you learn anything from this post that you found interesting? Do you have anything to add? Do you believe that self-publishing is a good thing for readers or not?
I’ll be giving away an Amazon digital copy of two self-published novellas to one random commenter - A DUKE FOR ALL SEASONS by Mia Marlowe and LOVE’S PORTRAIT by Monica Burns. Open internationally.
Mahalo, Ashley, for taking time from your busy schedule to share this insight with us! To enter Ashley's giveaway, leave a comment by Saturday, November 19, 10 pm in Hawaii. I'll randomly selected a winner and post on Sunday, November 20.
Kim in Hawaii
To learn more about Ashley, her books, and her blog, check out her website at www.ashleymarch.com
|Air Force One arrives at Hickam Field|