A lot of us have toyed with the idea of writing a book. It’s something everyone thinks about at one point or another but few people do. Even fewer succeed in getting their books published due to how competitive the industry is. That’s where self-publishing comes in.
With platforms such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble Press, anyone can self-publish a book and put it in front of millions of users. Self-publishing is not a guaranteed success, but it bypasses most of the barriers to getting your book out there if you know how to approach it.
In this article, I’ll give you a brief primer of how to get started with self-publishing in 2020. We’ll talk about the most popular platforms, how much you can expect to earn, and why you should be using your blog for self-promotion. Let’s get to it!
What Is Self-Publishing? (And How It Works)
The concept of self-publishing is simple. Instead of submitting your manuscript to an agent or a publishing house, you use an online platform that can handle distribution directly.
Self-publishing offers two primary advantages over the traditional model, which are:
- You keep more of the royalties. The distribution platform still takes a cut, but in most cases, you earn more money for each book sale.
- There’s no approval process. Although some online publishers do avoid specific types of books, generally there’s no approval process involved. If you want to write a 2,000-page space opera involving werewolves, you can go ahead and do it (and send me a copy while you’re at it).
It’s important to undestand self-publishing isn’t all roses and rainbows, though. Since there’s no publishing house or agent involved, you won’t be getting any advance for the books you write.
Likewise, if you need an editor, you’re going to have to pay for their services out of pocket. In most cases, that’s not a negligible expense.
There’s a reason why self-publishing has become so wildly popular in the last few years, though. The traditional approach to publishing weeds out the vast majority of manuscripts that people send their way. Even highly successful contemporary authors sometimes had to struggle for years before they caught the eye of the right person.
Self-publishing enables you to bypass all that red tape. However, it’s not a way to make a significant amount of money in a short time unless you strike gold.
Can You Make Money Self-Publishing?
If you’re going to self-publish a book, chances are you’ll end up using one of the following platforms. They are by far the most popular, which makes it easier to find an audience, and here’s how they work, in general terms:
- Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon has quickly become the biggest book market in the world, both for traditional works and self-published authors. They can put your book in front of millions of people every day and their royalty rates range from 35% to 70%.
- Barnes & Noble Press. This old-school publishing house enables you to launch your book online and print it on demand. Its royalty rates go from 40% to 65% depending on the price of your book. They offer authors a lot of helpful resources, such as cover design assistance and marketing solutions.
- Kobo. This Canadian book marketplace operates in over 17 countries and it features millions of published works, making it a great option for new authors. They also offer royalty rates that range from 40% to 70%.
- Apple Books. It shouldn’t come as a surprise Apple has a massive presence within the e-book marketplace. They can market books directly to hundreds of millions of users, making them a publishing powerhouse. One big plus of publishing with Apple Books is they offer flat royalties of 70%.
As a rule of thumb, the first marketplace most self-published authors target is Amazon. They have by far the biggest audience, which is precisely what you need:
Ideally, though, you’ll want to publish your book in several marketplaces to maximize exposure and sales. That process can be time-consuming, but there are tools that enable you to publish books in multiple marketplaces in one fell swoop, such as Draft2Digital and PublishDrive.
What you really care about, however, is earning potential. There are a ton of self-publishing success stories. People that earn hundreds of thousands of dollars from a modest book catalog. However, just as with traditional publishing, those aren’t the norm.
The big issue with self-publishing is finding a way to generate buzz around your work. There are so many self-published books online, people don’t want to take risks on authors they don’t know. If you want to make real money self-publishing, you need to keep three things in mind:
- Your odds of success increase as you publish more books and slowly build an audience.
- Marketing is essential, so you want to develop a social media presence and get your book in front of reviewers.
- You want to focus on a niche you know has potential.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, you should be familiar with those fundamentals. It’s the slow-and-steady approach to building an audience and it applies to self-publishing as well.
Why You Should Combine Your Blog With Self-Publishing
One of the main issues with self-publishing is a lot of consumers have become accustomed to incredibly low prices. If you go to Amazon now and browse their book selection, you’ll notice a significant percentage of them are priced between $2.99 and $9.99:
Pricing your books higher has been shown to decrease sales, particularly for little-known authors. Plus, self-publishing platforms dissuade you from increasing your prices by offering preferential royalty rates within those low ranges.
The result, even if you do manage to find an audience, is that you’re not making all that much money from each book sale, and that’s where your blog comes in.
If you already have a blog with an audience, that’s the perfect place to market and sell e-books and online courses (such as Paid to Blog).
Through your website, you can set the price you want. Plus, if you’re writing about topics you know your audience cares about, that can probably translate to a decent volume in sales.
If you don’t have a blog yet, but you’re interested in self-publishing, I recommend you get a head start on the former. You can blog about anything you want and it’s a great way to start building an audience for when you make the jump to publishing.
Anyone can publish a book online, but it takes a rare combination of factors to make it a success. Most importantly, you need an audience that’s passionate about it. If you already run a blog that gets a lot of visitors, that’s the perfect vehicle to drive sales to your book.
If you’re up for it, you can bypass platforms such as Amazon entirely and sell your books directly through your blog. It’s the ultimate form of self-publishing and the only one that ensures you end up with the lion’s share of the profits.
Do you have any questions about how to get started with self-publishing in 2020? Let’s go over them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.
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