Perhaps you’ve thought about writing a book. Perhaps you’ve noticed advertisements by self-publishing companies with headlines such as “Do you have a manuscript ready for publication?” If you go to their websites, you'll find that many offer three publishing packages: entry-level, medium, and premium. Typically, appealing names are assigned to each level such as Bronze, Silver, Gold; and Emerald, Ruby, Diamond. Cost ranges from circa $4,500 for entry-level to circa $6,000 for premium. The premium package may include custom cover design, professional editing, and marketing support. To save money, you may opt for the entry-level package. You will find, however, that in many cases you will be pressured to purchase additional services. You will be told, for example, that an attractive, custom cover is essential if your book is to sell. You may also be pressured to purchase professional editing. After all, you certainly don’t want your name to be on a nationally distributed book that’s full of grammatical errors—right? Consequently, your entry-level package could separate you from something that looks a lot like $6,000.
You take a deep breath and decide to sign a contract for an entry-level package for $5,800, which includes a custom cover and professional editing.
Undertake a pivotal thought process every would-be author should utilize before signing a contract with a self-publisher: It is as follows. “If my book will be in paperback and is priced at $9.95, my royalty per book sold won’t exceed $4 (and will probably be less). How many books must I sell to recover the cost of producing the book, irrespective of making a profit? The math tells me I must sell almost 1,500 books just to cover my capital outlay. What are my chances of doing that? Because I am not an established author, they are nil. I will be lucky to sell 100 books.”
It’s convenient to think your book will be an exception. “It will get on the Amazon best-seller list and take off.” Uh-huh. If you believe that and decide to sign a contract, note something else: hundreds of self-publishing outfits are scams. Their services are overpriced, their work is often shoddy, and they rarely deliver what is promised. For the brutal truth about the dark side of the self-publishing industry, visit Victoria Strauss’ internet site Writer Beware.
So, dear friends, if your motive for writing a book is to make money, come up with a better idea. Write a book because you have something to say that you believe is of critical importance. Write a book because you want it to be part of your legacy. Write a book because you love to see your words in professional—and national—print. Write a book because it is something to accomplish before you die. And, yes, write a book to make your mother proud. ###