Self-Publishing Comes of Age
Expert Reveals Three Reasons Why
It’s No Longer Considered ‘Vanity Press’
Paul Dorset has something in common with Spartacus and it’s not that he wears armor or led a slave revolt against the Roman Empire. It’s that they both gained prominence through self-publishing.
Rejected by the traditional publishing houses in 1960, Spartacus – which inspired the iconic Kirk Douglas film – was self-published by author Howard Fast during the McCarthy era in 1951. He wrote it as an allegory of his own experience being imprisoned for his alleged involvement with the Communist Party because he refused to disclose the names of contributors to a fund for a home for orphans of American veterans of the Spanish Civil War. He sat in jail for three months for contempt of Congress, which resulted in him being blacklisted as an author. So, he self-published, which led to the landmark movie.
Dorset, who is about to launch his seventh book, didn’t self-publish because of the red Scare. He self-published because he found the traditional publishing industry slow, unresponsive and annoyingly dismissive of new ideas – and he’s not alone. Many bestsellers have been self-published, including Chicken Soup for the Soul and What Color is Your Parachute? Dorset believes that with the advent of affordable print-on-demand programs and e-books, self-publishing is no longer the realm of the wealthy who once used self-publishing as a vanity tool. Today, he believes self-publishing is a legitimate and growing publishing trend.
“Anyone who feels they have a book inside them, waiting to get out, should seriously consider self-publishing,” said Dorset, author of New Blood (pauldorset.com). “It’s no longer the second-class citizen of the publishing world. When I started self-publishing in 2003, it wasn’t nearly as accepted as it is today. Now, I am enjoying a following, steady sales and higher profits than the traditional publishing industry would have ever offered me.”
His reasons for self-publishing include:
- Control – With traditional publishing, they control when you’re published, what your cover looks like and all the final edits. Sometimes, you’ll finish your book in December, but it isn’t published until August of the following year. If you self-publish, you control everything, and when your final edit is done, you can release the book when you want, not when some publishing executive wants.
- Money – Most of the traditional publishing houses will offer a minimal advance against royalties, and that’s about all the money you’ll ever see. They’re royalty rates, after their fees and percentages, can amount to a few pennies on the dollar. With self-publishing, you retain every dime after your cost of goods, which in some cases can be as low as a buck or two per book. For instance, if you go with a print-on-demand provider, and your cost of goods is $2 per book, and you sell it for $14.95, you can keep around $12 per book when it’s purchased directly from your Web site.
- Ancillary Rights – If you’re an author with a decent literary agent, and you get a book deal, your agent will get 15 percent of everything you make, and the publisher may even have a stake in the movie rights. If you’re one of the lucky few who have their book made into a film, you’ll be giving away as much as 50 percent of your film royalties. With self-publishing, you retain all your ancillary rights, including film, TV and foreign market licensing.
“Best-selling authors, New York Times columnists and many others are jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon, and since more than 50 percent of all books sold in North America are sold online, you don’t have to worry about old prejudices on the part of buyers for the big book chains,” Dorset added. “You can market directly to consumers and, if you’re book is good enough, have a fighting chance at selling as much as if it were published traditionally.”
About Paul Dorset