It works kind of like this…
Let’s say you wrote a zombie novel. Excellent choice. Zombies are in right now. Good timing. You go through and look at 20-30 zombie novels online and see what publishing company is putting out these titles. You see some repeating themes. You see one published by Harper Collins. Yeah, good luck with that. You better have a great book, know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody else who loves to administer fellatio.
You keep searching and see that Vaccination: A Zombie Novel, seems to be doing okay and is published by some company called “Severed Press.”
Sounds like a zombie specialist. You go search on Amazon for “Severed Press” and boom! It’s like a zombie jackpot. There’s tons of results and they are all about zombies. Ladies and gents, you’ve found yourself a pretty decent candidate for sending out a book proposal.
You do a little more research, everything checks out, and you find the publisher’s address and instructions for book submissions on their website.
You craft a book proposal with a sample of your book (20-30 pages maybe of some really gory stuff), throw in some good stats about the rising popularity of zombie novels, show your knowledge of the zombie novel market, describe your niche and what makes your book stand out from the others, say a little something about yourself, do a little song and dance and sell that badboy like you’re doing a written infomercial for the thing.
Promising, but you’ll probably still get rejected. Also, don’t jump for joy if you do get signed. Getting published and having a successful run with a book are two totally different things. My first formally-published book only brought me about $500 so far in its 7 years of sales. I’m not even joking, unfortunately.
The other route is to do it the new-fashioned way–self-publish. You may miss out on some insider marketing tricks and having your publishing company go to bat for your book with the zombie book connections they already built, but the good news is that you’ll probably get 3-5 times as much money per copy sold. Maybe more.
With more money per copy sold, you’re also a heck of a lot more motivated to see to it that it is sold, that it gets reviews, etc. Publishing companies usually see what their best sellers are and put all their efforts into those projects while ignoring the stuff that just can’t seem to pick up traction with customers.
Self-publishing takes a lot of time to learn, but it’s certainly doable. You have to convert your file to MOBI, EPUB, and PDF so it can be sold at your website if you have one, as well as through vendors like Amazon, Kobo, Lulu, Google Play, and Barnes and Noble. And boom! You’ve got an eBook for sale.
You should also format the manuscript for print and submit it to a company called Createspace, which prints copies out one at a time when customers order a copy through Barnes and Noble or Amazon online.
And, often forgotten about is the audiobook market. But between audiobook sales and Audible’s great affiliate program, this can add a sizeable chunk of change to your book sale totals. It’s been worth it for me. I’ve managed to get 6 books on Audible and can say that each one has generated enough money to make recording and mastering it totally worthwhile.
I’ve formally published two books and self published more than a dozen. At this point in the game, I’ve got my preference. It should be obvious. Not only do I get a lot more of the share of sales when they occur, but I also have no big barriers or delays when it comes to releasing a book. So I write a ton of books and have a lot of titles out there getting sales every day with many more on the way.
If you need any help trying to figure the self-publishing game out, or would like someone to do all the dirty work readying manuscripts for dispersal on all the major retailers in all the formats, we’re happy to help you out here at Archangel Ink.
Matt Stone is a successful self-published author of more than 15 books and co-founder of Archangel Ink. When he’s not writing, he spends most of his time helping independent authors distribute, market, and successfully sell their books.