Many authors today go down the self-publishing route, and contrary to what a lot of people think, that's not necessarily because they have had so many rejection letters that they have given up on traditional and hybrid publishing - although to be fair, that is still the number one reason. But, some authors actually choose self-publishing over traditional and hybrid publishing for purely commercial reasons. So, what are the main reasons why an author would self-publish?
1. The author can't get an offer from a publisher (either traditional or hybrid).
2. The author hasn't been able to retain a literary agent.
3. The author does not want to go through the hassle of even trying options 1 and 2, above.
4. The author mainly wants to distribute the book to clients/followers, and is not concerned with the wider market.
5. The author has worked out that it makes more commercial sense to self-publish.
6. The author just wants their book publishing for personal reasons - Vanity Publishing.
So, they are the main reasons why authors consider self-publishing; let's now go through each in turn:
1 & 2. Can't get a Book Deal or an Agent.
These two pretty much amount to the same thing, as failure to get an agent most often results in not being able to get a publisher as most publishers these days only deal through agents. There are some who still accept manuscripts directly from authors but they are few and getting fewer. In any case, the result is the same with items 1 and 2 - you can't get anyone to publish your book!
Depending on how hard you have tried, e.g. have you approached 5 agents or 50, we find that when we're contacted for reasons 1 and 2, often the truth is it's actually reason 3. What we mean by that is: many authors will only approach up to about 10 agents and then give up. That's understandable because given agent turnaround times, approaching 10 agents could take as long as a year, particularly if you're approaching them sequentially and waiting for a reply from one before moving onto the next - some agents specify in their submission rules that they will only consider manuscripts on a sole-submission basis and you can read more about this on our page relating to submission checking. Returning to whether you're self-publishing for reasons 1 & 2 or reason 3, however, what we would say is that approaching 10 agents is simply not sufficient and if you don't want to fall under reason 3, you must continue until you have exhausted all possibilities.
3. Options 1 & 2 are too much hassle.
As per the comments above, this is probably the main category we deal with - a writer has approached 10 to 20 agents, their book was finished 2 years ago and they just can't be bothered to try anymore. They have some money anyway, so why not just go self-published have done with it. The book will be on Amazon in a few months and then anyone can buy it - job done!
There is a lot to be said for this attitude (if you have the money to do it, of course) and it will save you a lot of grief, but BEWARE. If your book has been rejected 20 times, you have to ask yourself the question: why? Have you had it proofread? Have you taken advice from a literary agency like Castle Tower? (see our Advisory Service page) Are you sure you can afford the costs of self-publishing? Is this really commercial or are you actually doing it for reason 6? Before spending thousands, maybe just spend a few hundred and get someone who knows about publishing to check your book out.
4. Publishing mainly for clients/followers.
If you have written a niche book, e.g. "How to catch that 40lb Carp with <<your name>> special bate!" or "Reiki: A Guide For Clients.", you may already have a complete target audience from your own Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Youtube list of followers/subscribers or, in the case of a Reiki practitioner, your own client bank.
For an example of how this type of self-publishing works, let's take the example of a Reiki Practitioner. Let's say you have a client bank of some 200 regular and occasional clients. You may want to publish a small book, maybe just 30/40 pages, which explains the origins of Reiki in Japan, who Dr Usui was, how energy healing works, and how to get the most from Reiki treatments.
You may work out that 200 such books will only cost you £4.00 each to produce and that given you charge £40 per session for your Reiki treatments, such a cost per book would be easily covered by just one treatment. Now, if you were to give this book to every new or returning client, completely free of charge, it would both encourage client loyalty to your practice and massively enhance your credibility with clients because as the author of a real, published book (i.e. available on Amazon - that's where most people look) your status as an expert in Reiki would necessarily increase. Although you might be investing £800 (i.e. 200 x £4.00) you would expect to get this back many times over in repeat business and referrals. This type of self-publishing has been demonstrated to be extremely worthwhile - and any books that you do sell on Amazon are a bonus!
5. Commercial Self-Publishing.
In this case, you have done the maths and worked out that if you go down the traditional publishing route you will pay nothing upfront; in fact, you will be receiving an advance of £1000, and you will get £1.70 (RRP is £16.99) from the publisher for every book sold. This will equate to about 10% of the RRP for a hardback book (see: https://www.societyofauthors.org/Where-We-Stand/buying-choices/How-do-authors-get-paid) but is generally less for paperbacks.
So, if you expect to sell 1000 books, you will receive £1.70 x 1000 = £1,700. You will get an advance of £1000 plus an additional £700 later.
A Hybrid publisher offers you a 70/30 deal (i.e. the publisher will pay 70% towards all costs of publishing and you will pay 30%). The total cost of publishing is £5,000, so you will pay £1,500, but you will be getting 25% of the RRP instead of 10%. Now you get 25% x £16.99 = £4.25 for each book sold, which equates to a total of £4.25 x 1000 = £4,250 minus the £1,500 you paid, so that's a profit of £2,750 which is over a thousand pounds more than you would have got with the traditional publisher.
Now let's look at self-publishing: you get quotes for cover design, editing, proofreading, typesetting, printing et cetera. Your total cost comes to over what the Hybrid publisher's costs were (this is usually the case because as a publisher, the Hybrid will get discounts for volume business that you won't get) of let's say £6,200. Your book is £16.99 again and fulfilment (postage, packing etc., i.e. getting your book to your customer) is going to cost you £1.99 per book. You again sell 1000, so that's £15 x 1000 = £15,000 minus your costs of £6,200 gives you £8,800, but you also had to spend £3,000 on marketing/advertising as there's no publisher in this case, so your total net profit is £5,800.
So the results are in terms of YOUR profit:
Traditional Publisher: £1,700
Hybrid Publisher: £2,750
It's little wonder, therefore, that an increasing number of authors are self-publishing.
6. Vanity Publishing
This is the easiest category of self-publishing to deal with by far. You have written your book and want it published so that it looks like a "properly published book" although you have little or no hope of selling any, are not bothered anyway and just want a book with your name on it so that you can hold it your hands, put it on your shelf and say to your friends, family and visitors: "look here is my book!" It really is as simple as that. If you do sell any... well, that's a bonus. If you only want a minimal print run, say 50 - 100 books, you could get the whole thing done for about £800 - assuming you don't bother with editing, proofreading etc.
How can Castle Tower Consulting help?
You can of course self-publish entirely on your own without any need for anyone else or an agency such as Castle Tower Consulting. You can do your own editing, design your own cover, do your own typesetting, find a printer and supervise the whole process from start to finish. Many people have done this, some successfully - but most not - and that is where we can help.
It is irrefutably the case that the vast majority of would-be self-published authors do not possess the entire skill set to go from a blank word document to a successfully selling 80,000 word novel with no assistance from anyone. If you can do this, all well and good and we salute you - you don't need us. But, if there are elements of the process that you don't feel you can do on your own then we can provide the necessary expertise to get those things done for you, either in-house or by using one of our network contractors (e.g. illustrating, as we cant do that in-house). In terms of self-publishing we can arrange:
1. Advice on the whole process.
2. Mentoring to get your book written.
3. All forms of editing.
5. Cover design.
6. Typesetting/formatting for printing.
7. Arranging a printer.
8. Storage of your books.
9. Fulfilment (i.e.getting your book packed and posted when someone buys one)
10. Marketing and advertising.
It is also possible, if your book is good enough and of the right genre, that we can get it stocked by some bookshops.
For further information please don't hesitate to contact us!