A number of bloggers, including, most prominently, Joe Konrath and Barry Eisler, have talked about how self-publishers make more money than traditionally published authors. This can be true. More often, it’s not.
It is obvious that you can get a higher share of the total revenue if you cut out a middleman, or even several of them. BUT a larger share of a smaller total may not equal more money in your bank account.
Before you jump on the bandwagon, wise authors will consider a few things, such as:
How much will your sales of print books shrink when you no longer have a large press’ distribution muscle behind you?
How much will your subsidiary rights income shrink? Are you clued-in enough to sell your own? Which ones? First and second serial aren’t too hard, but translation? Audio? Or hardest of all, movies?
How much extra time or money will you be spending upon doing, or getting done, all of the editing, cover design, marketing copy, file conversion and proofing, and so on that publishers do?
Will you earn enough more to re-pay that extra investment of time or money?
When you are contemplating the best use of that manuscript you just spent hundreds or thousands of hours writing, it should be worth a few dozen hours of your time to learn about and evaluate the options available.
Go buy some books on the publishing process, and on running a publishing company. (That’s what a self-publisher is, like it or not.) Pull up your copy of Excel and do some spreadsheets on various possible courses of action, using real numbers from books that would be comparable to yours. (And if you don’t know how to get those real numbers — read some of my other posts!)
As always, you are invited to tell me where I have it wrong, or to ask me to explain myself!