Getting Published: Self Publishing

The alternative to commercial publishing is self-publishing. Never has self-publishing been so economically viable. Ten years ago, the self-published author would need hundreds, even thousands of copies of a book printed just to get the costs per copy down to a reasonable amount.

Today, such technology as print-on-demand makes it economical to print a single copy. And with the soaring popularity of e-books, it may now be possible to publish successfully without ever printing anything.
The self-published author also keeps total control over the content and gets to keep about 50% of the retail price of the book (the remaining 50% goes to the bookstore or website which sold the book). This compares to the royalty rate of 5% to 15% of the retail price of the book paid by the publisher; sometimes the royalty payout is dramatically lower because the publisher bases the royalty on the wholesale price (which is about half the retail price).

A self-published book that sells well usually provides the author with more profits than a commercially published book that sells a similar number of copies. And the book can be published within weeks of the manuscript's completion.
But self-publishing has its own shortcomings, including lacking the credibility provided by the commercial publisher. In fact, some publications refuse to review self-published books, and some bookstores refuse to carry them.

I have been told about an optimistic self-published novelist who printed 20,000 copies of his book. He has been unable to park his car in his garage for years; that's where he stores the unsold copies. The risk of unsold copies is borne by the self-published author, along with all the upfront and ongoing expenses. Warning: When self-publishing, the author enters the publishing business, whether he or she wants to or not.
However, viewing the book as a sophisticated business card – something generally given away, not sold –limits the financial risk because the author prints only those copies needed to hand out to prospective clients or family and friends, and invests little or nothing in marketing.