The Biggest Problem with Self-Publishing

bookstoreThe biggest problem with self-publishing your book: distribution.

The companies that help authors self-publish (Amazon’s CreateSpace and others) generally have options that will get your books into the databases of traditional distributors such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll be showing up in bookstores soon.

There are a number of reasons why bookstores are not keen to bring self-published books into their stores:

First, the discounts offered to booksellers on these books is generally not competitive–typically they are discounted by about 25% instead of the 42% discounts offered by traditional publishers. (Some of the self-publishing companies allow authors to opt to give booksellers higher discounts.)

Second, retail prices are generally $4 to $5 too high for the market. (CreateSpace is more competitive.)

Third, self-published books are not easily returnable because there is no traditional publisher to process the returns. (Some authors have tried to set up deals with booksellers to accept returns, but this is a fussy process that holds little intereste for most booksellers.

Fourth, promotion of self-published books depends on the author–and many authors fail to do the work.

Finally, the quality control offered to booksellers by traditional publishers is lacking in self-published books–and so booksellers can’t easily tell which books are good and which are not.

So if you are self-publishing, don’t count on bookstores to sell your books. You have to do it through speaking engagements and social media. Don’t underestimate the amount of work that takes. If you’ve written your book, you’re only half-way done.

1 comment to The Biggest Problem with Self-Publishing

  • Angela

    I appreciate this information. I’ve been doing research and your information is consistent with what a published author mentioned as he gave advise to new authors. It seems that self-publishing is good those who have a following from doing public speaking where they can promote and sell their books. I am trying to find out the best way to get my book out to the open market where those who are interested can purchase it. I am open to traditional and social media routes.

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