Transcript Of Video
Hey, welcome to Tell Tell Tuesday. I’m Kallie and this is Tell Tell. See? Today we’re going to talk about whether or not you should self-publish and which platform you should self-publish on.
So the first thing to consider is what your goals are.
Let’s look at the options:
1. If you’re in academia, for example, you might want to find a traditional publisher. And when I say traditional publisher, I’m talking about a small press, a publishing house, an academic press. So a press that will actually design your book for you, they will print copies, they will distribute it, but you will still likely be in charge of a little bit of marketing. So, that’s one option. And that’s really great if you are in academia, because it looks good when you’re trying to get a teaching position.
2. It’s really great if you’re trying to find an audience that already exists, because a lot of publishing houses will have people on their subscription lists. They’ll have people who love their books. They know what they’re looking for. They publish similar books with a similar style. So it’s almost like a record label, right? Where they have bands or musicians with kind of similar feels, right? So it’s not going to be the same exact book 100 times. But if you like one of the books from Penguin Random House, you might like the others. Or if you like one of Graywolf’s books, you might like the others.
3. The downside is that you will lose aesthetic control. So they decide the book cover and they decide the interior. And for some people that’s fine. Sometimes there can be a battle between the publisher and the author when it comes to things like book covers, right? What if you hate the book cover? Well, that sucks. So, that’s one thing to think about.
If for any reason you are thinking of publishing with a publishing house, you should submit your work out and see what type of response you get. The challenging part about that is that most publishers want to see a track record of publication. So what that means is they’ll want to see that you have poems published in journals. So if you’re writing a manuscript and you’re going to submit it out for publication, you’ll want to have some poems from that collection published in magazines. So it’s a little more time-consuming, but it can be a fun process. If you haven’t tried it, I would suggest just submitting and see what happens.
Royalty Payout with Traditional Publishers
The other thing to consider is the royalty payouts. Because publishing houses cover the cost of printing, designing, publishing the book, and because they’re in charge of marketing and selling the book, they take a huge cut of your royalties.
And that just makes sense because of the way the business model is set up. You might get anywhere from 3% to 8% of the sales on your book, right?
How to Choose: Platforms
If you want to self-publish, there’s a couple of platforms that you can look at. So I mentioned them and then there’s many more, but these are just the industry standards, the ones that I recommend. So there’s Lulu, there’s BookBaby, there’s one called Blurb, IngramSpark and KDP, which is Amazon’s platform. All of them do generally the same thing. They are all, except for IngramSpark, print on demand services. What that means is that when you put your book on there and people order the book, the platform (either KDP, Lulu, or whatever you choose) will actually print and ship the book to whoever bought it. And you will get the royalties. So you do not have to be filling the role of distributor because they will be distributing the book. Does that make sense?
How to Choose: Distribution
In terms of distribution, any of those are great options because they all end up on Amazon, and they all end up usually on Barnes & Noble online. They can all be purchased online. And it’s really great. And you can also order author copies. So you’ll want to explore what each one offers.
All of the options mentioned above offer hardcover.
Then you want to look at the price difference.
Some of them offer better royalties when you’re printing, and some of them cost more to print. For example, Blurb does more specialty books. So if you’re putting out a magazine or if you’re putting out a special collection or a children’s book, you might want to go with Blurb. But if you’re putting out a paperback, you might want to look at KDP or Lulu or IngramSpark.
What are your goals?
Once you have your goals defined, you can choose the platform that makes the most sense for you.
So let’s say you want to get in bookstores. You don’t want to handle distribution. You want to self-publish and you want to make it really easy to do readings in local event spaces. In that case, I would suggest publishing with IngramSpark, because they offer bookstores a way for them to order your book, and then if no one buys them, they can send the books back. It’s a professional way for bookstores to get your book so you can set up readings, they can search for your book and find it pretty easily. It’s a good option if you are planning a big book tour or something like that. Also, the pre quality at IngramSpark is great.
If you just want a book for your friends and family, and you’re not really concerned about getting into bookstores, and you’re not really concerned about having a hardcover book, I would say KDP and Lulu are good choices. I would put your book on there and see which one has a better royalty payout. It depends on the manufacturing costs, it depends on the book size, it depends on the paperweight. That’s something you want to consider as well. And once you have all that knowledge, you want to make sure that the platform you choose has the book size you want. Some platforms have a bunch of different book sizes, some only have limited options. So if you want a special book size, you’re going to want to make sure that the platform you choose can handle that.
You can also go to local printers. For example, if you have a very special design that requires like dye-cutting and crazy things with the printing, you might want to go to a local printer. The downside of that is you might have to handle distribution. So you have to weigh these pros and cons and what’s important to you. I would say the easiest and the one that makes the most sense for the large majority of people is KDP or IngramSpark. Again KDP is run by Amazon. So if you hate Amazon, maybe don’t choose that one. IngramSpark is cool, but they also put your book on Amazon and other platforms.
If you have specific questions below, shoot me an email, and then I can also send you the self-publishing guide, which talks about each of these platforms in more detail. But this is just a general overview, the pros and cons of self-publishing, traditional publishing, and what platform to choose. I hope this helped.