…I’VE GOT AN agent, signed a deal with a major publisher, got a 1970’s advance of £200,000 and you’ll see me at a book store soon and or in the Caribbean!
Beyond the very real dilemma of whether to self-pub or go the traditional route, there are numerous aspects to think of that could prove beneficial or not, depending on variables.
If you are a first time author, you are nothing in the book world unless you happen to be well-known already. Very occasionally a writer puts a book out achieves the dream of a huge advance, and they are, in essence, a freak.
Forget that. The likelihood of getting selected by an agent or publisher is as low as 1% of all queries they receive. So once you have a literary agent (not a prerequisite, but close to it), they shop your book to everyone – hopefully – because of the money you make in royalties, they will receive 15%. As with anything, a great agent is worth their weight in gold, and getting the best deal is entirely within their interests also.
You now have an agent. You have a publisher with a concrete interest in your book. Great! Hold on. The majority of authors receive an advance, which averages out at around $5000 (£3500) depending on genre. In the UK that is a sixth of the average yearly wage. Not quite champagne-cork producing figures. Advances of £10,000 are not uncommon but the kicker is that your book sales have to clear the 10k before making money off royalties. You may receive the advance in stages. For example: A third on signing the book deal, a third when it reaches bookshelves and a third at the end of the year. Of those who get published, only about 25% make profit for the publisher, 25% break even and 50% are a bust. Statistically not great, but consider Hollywood film studios that only make profit on around 25% of productions, with 75% making losses.
As a debut author you will most likely receive zero promotion. But then those who self-pub are in the same leaking, rocking, sickness inducing boat. Naturally you promote yourself through whatever networks you have at your disposal. The probability is your book will sink into some semblance of oblivion regardless of quality. If your advance is not cleared, then getting a deal for your next book will be far tougher. Conversely, if you are a success, even in relative terms, you are in a greater position to negotiate a second book deal and larger advance.
All things considered, with physical book sales taking hits resultant from the encroaching e-book market, it isn’t an easy choice to pursue physical publishing. 70-30% royalties versus 10% looks like a no brainer. That is where the author hopes the publishing house makes a difference and the book is more visible, online and off it. A publisher will edit and sort out a cover, an expense in itself if self-pubbing. There is a slightly more prestigious appeal to physical publishing for obvious reasons, but the pay off isn’t certain and sure as hell isn’t clear. Ultimately, if a publisher doesn’t pick you up self-pub is a hell of a plan B, a safety net only afforded to authors since around 2009.
So yeah, keep writing 🙂