Think self-publishing is a new concept? Consider it more of a ‘reintroduction’.
Even those as revered as Charlotte Bronte paid £50 in 1846 towards the production and printing costs of her poetry collection, that also featured contributions from her sisters, Emily and Anne. That these authors were women was more cause for societal prejudice than how the book came to be produced, which saw the Bronte sisters use the pseudonym ‘Currer Bell’.
Around ten years ago, a combination of today’s technology, and the continually-diminishing chance of new authors being offered a contract by publishers or agents, saw a huge flurry self-finance or producing-through-a-template their works for all to see and judge. Around the same time, ‘vanity publishers’ sprung up, offering ‘advice’ for a great deal of money; DIY template options proffered no more than a spell-check before the ‘publish’ button was pressed, and both options led to a glut of poor quality, directionless and amateurish books. These represented the ‘all-new self-publishing phenomena’. It’s no surprise the concept received criticism and sparked snobbery and scorn from those already within the industry.
Nowadays, to even have a hope of sharing the same markets as traditionally published writers, many self-pubbing authors have wised up – consequently finding the fees for professional guidance and publishing services, to hone their book’s mechanics, aesthetics and appeal before its release. Though the DIY template options are still popular, such as Amazon and Lulu, it’s commonly budget that pushes an author to use them, not a lack of knowledge about the industry. I know this from the authors I speak to, who aren’t entirely happy with the glossy white paper and black spine of their oddly-sized, self-pubbed fiction books (sure-fire ways to tell), as a result of these one-option-fits-all templates; they felt this was their only option as funds were low. A small or non-existent budget doesn’t necessarily mean this is your only option – there are ways you can publish and sell an attractive, professional product that wouldn’t look out of place amongst any from the Big 5 with a modest amount.
Crowd-funding is a relatively new concept for publishing, and it’s helping authors across the globe engage literary consultants, editorial professionals, designers and marketers to help produce a book that stands shoulder to shoulder with any title from the Big 5. Not only does it help the author with costs incurred by the book’s production, it also helps readers ‘buy in’ and invest (literally) in a story, which lays the foundation of an author’s fan base. A win/win for everyone concerned.
You could also drum up demand for the book and pay for your costs via a pre-order system. Or contact the professionals you need and negotiate a payment plan. There are more options for authors on a low budget than print-on-demand, which has as many downsides as benefits. If ever you want to hear them, drop me a message.
At least research and compare all your options before you choose where to publish your book. You may find you have far more routes to market available.