Why Celebrity Authors Are Self Publishing—And What It Means For You

Self-publishing offers control and higher royalties--but it also requires substantially more work on the part of the author. Here are some tips to figuring out which way to go when you pen your soon-to-be bestseller.

Many business owners have seen the value in publishing a book and have set out to do so. However, many of them run into a stumbling block when it comes to the publishing process. Given the difficulties many authors encounter while attempting to get published, many business owners begin to consider self-publishing. That can be a scary thought, but what does it really mean?

Self publishing was once a path chosen primarily by authors who could not get their books published any other way. Recently, however, that premise has shifted as big-name authors such as Seth Godin and J.K. Rowling have announced that they will be self-publishing their upcoming books. These announcements have created a storm in the literary world, and have given self-publishing a new air of credibility. But celebrity authors aren’t the only ones turning to self-publishing--in fact, it is estimated that nearly 80% of books published each year are either self-published or published by small publishing companies. Consequently, many business owners are re-evaluating their options to see whether self publishing is right for them. As with most things in life, self-publishing has its share of benefits and drawbacks. I’ll do my best to break them down below:

The benefits of self-publishing include far more control over pricing, marketing, and promotional strategy… as well as a larger royalty. For an author who has an entrepreneurial mindset and the desire to run her own marketing and publicity campaign, self-publishing can be a great fit.  This is particularly true for authors who have established a name for themselves, as the biggest challenge for a self-publisher is often simply standing out from the crowd.

On the other hand, traditional publishing offers a much simpler route for authors who are able to find a publisher. The authors don’t have to worry about marketing and publicity, as publishers take on this responsibility. For authors who have yet to establish themselves, traditional publishing is often the best option as publishers can provide the type of publicity that would cost an independent author hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve. In addition, many traditional publishers are willing to offer authors an advance on the proceeds from their book--a benefit not available to self publishers.  

Which publishing route should you choose? That’s up to you. Do keep in mind, however, that if you do not have an entrepreneurial drive, the desire to run your own marketing campaign, and at least a small amount of name-recognition in your niche, self-publishing may not work well for you. Self-publishing offers control and higher royalties--but it also requires substantially more work on the part of the author.  

If you do decide to self publish, I have a couple of words of advice to share with you. First of all, hire good people to help you. Don’t skimp on the quality of your books or your employees. When self-publishing is done tastefully and effectively, it can achieve spectacular results. Focus on the quality of your books and on executing a well-conceived marketing strategy, and you can expect to enjoy a successful self-publishing experience.  

Here are some resources to help you get started: Lulu.com and Selfpublishing.com can help you with all aspects of the publishing process, as well as provide marketing assistance. Self-Pub.net is a helpful source of information for business owners considering the self-publishing route.   

--Author Kailin Gow is the author of more than 80 books, 20 of which were worldwide bestsellers on Amazon. She helped found the publishing and production house Sparklesoup Inc.

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2 Comments

  • Billy

    As we have been printing books for self publishers for 40 years and are not a vanity press or a broker like the names above, I would like to add our name to the list please. Self-publishing is alive and well, but is currently being dominated in search engine advertisements by vanity presses. I have been wondering for years why more celebrities and influential people don't just self-publish themselves. Sure it is more work and you may actually have to type out your book, but there also are ghost-writers available, which we offer as well. Most celebrities also have there own website and Facebook page which are seen daily by thousands of fans. The question is why don't they just offer their book on their website? If they are worried about the hassles of distribution and fulfillment, the good news is we do that too. If they don't have a website, well we build those too. We can design the cover, format the insides, edit the insides, make an E-Book, market the book, SEO, ghost write the book, you name it.

    What I question the most is what some celebrities are waiting for. Even if a major publisher is waiting to approach them with a book deal, those percentages and royalties have dropped significantly. For every Monica Lewinski, there are thousands of qualified authors who have a good book. Publishers mainly capitalize on the moment of a big story or event, not actually care about the author and want to see them succeed over the long haul. I've never met Brad Pitt personally and probably never will, but I do know that I have a surefire plan for how he can succeed with his book. The average self-publisher could only wish to have that sort of following and possibility of reaching people. That is why it is so curious to me why celebrities are either waiting for a publisher to call them or just never thought of self-publishing a book themselves.

    www.printshopcentral.com

  • Stephen Tiano

    To be sure, self-publishing really has stepped away from the "vanity publishing" label. Over the past two years, I've done design and layout work on more  well-written, professionally edited, interesting books than the previous 16 years combined. That said, I'm always interested in ideas on reaching potential self-publishing authors, particularly the new run of celebrity authors. Can you share any thoughts along those lines, please?