For many writers, becoming a published author can be a confusing and overwhelming decision, especially when it comes to the question of whether to self-publish or not. And with today's technology, it's never been easier to self-publish a book.
But self-publishing is the same as any other business, in that the harder you work at it, the more profitable it can be. So to earn a living as an author, you need to be able to write books quickly and make your time as productive as possible. But first you need to decide whether to publish your books the traditional way through a publishing company or to publish your book yourself.
There are three things to consider when deciding on the best and most profitable way to publish your book.
The first consideration is time. if you decided to use a traditional publishing house, first you have to convince them that your book is worthy of publication more than anyone else's, and this in itself can take several years and dozens of rejections before you find the right publisher.
Also traditional publishing houses will publish your book according to their own timeline. Books are scheduled to be published far in advance so it could be three years after signing a publishing contract before your book hits the market.
When you self-publish a book, the only time restriction on publication is your own. So you can either take your time and publish it one or two years later, or fast-track the whole process and have your book out on the market within a month or two.
The next consideration is control. Once you sign a publishing contract you're signing away your copy right to your work, so your book then effectively becomes the publisher's book. This means that as the author you will now have little or no say when it comes to your book title, design or cover. Yet marketing and promoting the book will till be your responsibility.
When you self-publish a book you become the publisher as well as the author so you maintain all control of the way your book is published, how it will look and who will distribute it.
The last consideration is profit. With traditional publishing houses, the authors have no up-front costs as far as publishing goes and instead are paid a royalty for every book sold.
Some royalty payments can be as low as 5% of the selling price and most are no higher than 10%.
Some authors are paid an advance payment of royalties as soon as their book is published, but they then have to wait several years before the number of sales grows over and above the amount of advance.
This is why profit is one of the biggest arguments in favour of self-publishing. All profits from a self-published book belong 100% to the author. So the more you market and promote your book, the more you reap the profits from the sales.
Let's say you self-publish a novel and you sell1,000 copies in a year. Of course with the right marketing, your book could sell ten-times that amount every year - or more. But just as an example, we'll use a low figure of 1,000 copies.
So if you're making a profit of say, $5 per book, the 1,000 sales will give you an income of $5,000 in a year. But of course the longer your book remains on the market, the more copies you can sell every year. Your name as an author will become known and if people buy one book from you and enjoy it, they'll probably seek out more books from you.
So if you published a book every year and sold an extra thousand copies of each book every year, in five years time you could have a six-figure income every year. And the numbers I'm quoting are very low. The profit from your sales could be double or treble that quite easily.
And if your book was picked up by a book club that wanted to sell your book to its members, that could mean a single sale of 20,000 copies or more. You can imagine how much that would sky-rocket your income.
Or what about libraries? The sales achievable to libraries are phenomenal. For instance, there are over 114,000 libraries in America. What if you could sell just one copy of your book to even half of them!
And then there's also the possibility of your book being chosen to go into a collection of condensed books, or Braille books, audio books, media interviews, movie deals...the list goes on.
Writing non-fiction books can be even more profitable. Whatever business you're in, with a published book to your list of credentials, you'll be seen as an expert in your field.
And there's no limit to the number of non-fiction books you can write. The internet makes it possible for you to research and collect articles on any subject and then you can write it all up as your own book (as long as you write it yourself and don't plagiarise).
You could then set up a web site and also sell essays, articles, reports, newsletters, eBooks and more.
You could also write articles for magazines using the information in your books, or allow them to print excerpts from your books, which would not only bring in extra income, but it is also great publicity for your books.
So you see, when you self-publish, the profits can be infinite.