The BEST Thing About Self-Publishing

I was sick of it.

Every book publisher (Wiley, Penguin, HarperCollins, Hay House, etc.) said the same thing: “We’re great at marketing. We’ll take care of it for you.”

Then when it came time to publish the book, they all said something like, “So I guess you should start tweeting it out. We don’t do that.”

Then I would say, “Can you get me on any TV shows, radio shows, etc.?” And they would always say, “No, no. You have to do that. We have too many authors to do it for all of them.”

And I would ask, “Are we having a book party? Can you put an ad in the paper? Can you send to an email list?”

“No, no, no. You have to do that,” they’d say.

So what were they doing? I was giving them 85% of my royalties. What exactly were they doing for me?

Answer: nothing. Their editors were terrible. My second book published (out of 19) had a ton of grammatical errors. In one book, the editor rewrote some things, which led to factual errors.

The cover designs were awful. The publishers always negotiated final cover approval, so I had no say.

Finally, I decided I needed to take over.

That meant:

  • I write the book.
  • I hire a good editor (it’s always good to have a second pair of eyes, or even a third and fourth).
  • I hire a good professional designer. You can even use something like 99designs, where you can hire a designer or post your project as a contest for many designers to compete over. This gives you multiple options to choose from. And they’ll always be better than what you’ll get working with a publisher.
  • I take care of my international rights. My publishers always said they would do it. Once I started doing it, I got into an additional 20 countries.
  • And I do my own book marketing.

 

But do you know the best thing about self-publishing? You might think it’s the money. I make all the money. Nobody else. This year is the five-year anniversary of “Choose Yourself”, just one of my 19 books. I still get enough money from that one book to pay rent and my other expenses. The audiobook has done about as well as the paperback. Altogether, well over 1 million copies have been sold.

And I sell it for only 99 cents on Kindle.

But that’s not the best part. This is the best part:

I get to say YES. Whenever I used to pitch a book to publishers, they had all the power to say yes or no.

Now I have the power. I get to say YES to me. I won’t reject myself. That means sometimes I’ll probably write a bad book. Who cares? I don’t care. Nobody will read the bad book. But the more books I put out there, the better chance I give myself for a breakout book that is truly great.

I say YES to me.

What about the stigma of self-publishing? Don’t bad books get self-published because the author can’t find a publisher?

No. There is no stigma. Here are some books that were originally self-published:

Nobody ever asks me which publisher published “Choose Yourself”.

Nobody cares. There is no stigma. Write a book and publish it.

A friend of mine, Bill Beteet, has answered 100 questions on Quora and has 60,000 followers there. I told him, “Staple all of your answers together, get a book cover, do a little rewriting and upload it to Amazon.” I hope he does it. I know one Quora writer who has used this exact approach four times, and now she has four great books.

Nobody asks who her publisher is. But she sells books and makes money.

 

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  • James – how do you pursue international publication rights? Have you compiled a list of international publishers/contacts?

  • Constable Sam Plank

    I could not agree more. I have self-published nearly thirty books – fiction and non-fiction – and it is the most exciting way to work. “Properly” published author friends always tell me that their publisher does too little for their percentage and that they hate losing control of the cover and design. And the satisfaction of knowing that each book that sells is entirely down to my own effort – unbeatable!

  • Hey James, how would you suggest myself and others find a good editor?