I just found this article at Publishers Weekly that talks about how Terry Goodkind, best-selling author of the Sword of Truth series, is self-publishing his next novel. It makes me wonder what a famous, successful author like him is doing self-publishing a book. I mean, I would probably die of happiness if I were to get traditionally published, but Goodkind is walking away from it. And the more I consider the matter, the more it makes sense. Here’s my reasoning:
1. He already has a fan following. As such, he can be pretty much assured that anything he publishes in the Sword of Truth series, people will buy, myself included.
2. He has the money for marketing/publicity. Self-published authors are generally 9-5ers trying to write on the side, and don’t have the funds to launch international marketing campaigns. But Goodkind, and other big-time authors, do have the time and money to do that kind of thing. His publishing house probably could get his book into more stores, place advertisements in better locations, but as per #1, he already has a huge fan base. They’ll find out about the book regardless of how limited the marketing campaign is.
3. He’ll get higher royalties. This one is a no-brainer. When an author self-publishes, they set the price. Traditionally published authors usually get between 5-15% royalties — good if you’re in the 15% range, terrible if you’re down at 5%. If you’re self-publishing, you obviously make way more, plus you decide how much the book goes for. I guess he’ll be losing the prestige of having a traditional publishing house’s logo on the spine of his book, but he’ll probably survive.
4. He has complete creative freedom. I’ve heard horror stories of editors ripping apart books and sewing them back together in pathetic imitations of their originals. I have no idea if this is true — probably not, let’s be realistic. However, that doesn’t change the fact that self-publishing allows you to write whatever the heck you want, regardless of what anyone else (or society in general) thinks. My only problem with this is that some authors do need to be reined in by editors, Goodkind included. He has a tendency to get very preachy, and I’m worried he’ll just go crazy with the rants once there’s no one there to stop him. Of course, for all I know, he’s been deciding what goes into his books for years, and the publishing house has just been crossing their fingers and hoping things worked out.
5. He’ll get a lot of attention for self-publishing. Traditional publishing houses are worried about self-publishing, because it cuts into their profit margins, and will do so more in the future. Once a decent amount of big time authors join the self-publishing bandwagon, I don’t see things going well for publishing houses. Since self-publishing doesn’t happen that often right now, Goodkind should get media attention for his decision to self-publish based on that fact alone, regardless of how well his book actually sells.
Looking at it this way, it seems crazy that big time authors wouldn’t try out self-publishing. On the other hand, there are many excellent reasons to stay with traditional publishers. So I guess it really comes down to individual choice.
What do you think?
Imagine you’re a big time author, and you’re planning to release a new book. Would you consider self-publishing?