When I started writing fiction, I assumed that there is not a single writer out there who doesn’t want to get published by Penguin Random House. Apparently, the numbers show otherwise: indie publishers are trending, and not without a cause. Let’s see five major reasons why many writers choose to self-publish. (In a follow-up article we are going to analyse the cases when finding a publisher is a better idea.)
1. BECAUSE IT HAS THE BIGGEST MARKET SHARE AND IS GROWING THE FASTEST
According to the charts published on Authorearnings.com analysing Amazon sales data from the last 27 months until May 2016, self-published books have an almost 45% share of the market (growing from 27% since February 2014), while the Big Five has fallen from 39% to 23%. It’s a numbers game: like it or not, independent publishing already gives almost half the ebook unit sales of the market and seems unstoppable.
2. BECAUSE WHAT YOU WRITE IS UNIQUE
Agents keep turning you down, insisting that nobody is interested in reading about pink fluffy unicorns. Guess what: they are wrong. Independent publishers can reach the audience you are writing for. If a big publisher thinks your book is going to be read by ‘only’ several thousand people, they won’t bother putting the effort in editing and marketing it – but you should. There are people out there who want to read your novel or cookbook, and if you keep it in your drawer, they never will.
3. BECAUSE IT IS ABOUT PUSHING BOUNDARIES
There is a certain tendency in books selected for Literary Nobel or the Booker Prize; educated guesses of winners are usually correct. The Folio Prize, however – created after an announcement by the Booker’s judges in 2011, stating that they prefer “readability” when selecting the winner –, is open to any authors writing in English and is accepting self-published books: this way they can cover works in uncommon topics or forms. The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) won’t stop until self-published books can enter any competition.
4. BECAUSE YOU WANT TO GET THE MOST OUT OF IT
Being read is not all that counts. It is possible to earn a living as a writer, especially as an indie: in average roughly 42% of the dollars earned goes to the author, in contrary to the Big Five, who are providing less than a quarter of their proceeds. Depending on the pricing method you choose and in which country your book is sold, at PublishDrive you can even get 60% as royalty.
5. BECAUSE YOU WANT TO TAKE CONTROL
You move the strings when it comes to decisions regarding your book. If you hire your own editor and designer, your book cannot get published with a cover or plot changes you don’t completely agree with. You make your marketing and pricing decisions; or you hire experts to do it for you. Either way, your book’s rights stay with you. Enjoy your freedom.