Online Self-Publishing Business: What’s the Real Truth?

I have always been a guy of high self-esteem with vanity stuffed to every pore of my body. So when I realised that I was enjoying blogging, I started churning out creative posts every day. It is then that I decided to write a book that consisted of the compilation of my travel stories and experiences. I realised that I wanted to write a book and the easiest way to go about it was to self-publish.

For a first time author like myself who has just written poetry and short stories, this is the easiest route to take. Mind you, in the other way, which is the traditional publishing route, one has to write three chapters of the book and submit it with a synopsis to a literary agent. This agent will check your novel and if he feels good about the contract, he will pass it on to a publisher like HarperCollins, Rupa or others like them. One can also submit their novel chapters online through the publisher website but mostly, you get rejected or a reason is given for your lack of selection. I have tried doing this but with no success. The traditional publishing process is long and could take a few years or even longer as there are many who can reject your work. But if one strikes a deal in this route, you get an advance amount for writing the novel and get royalties. You also get all rights to your work if you want to adapt it to other formats later.

In self-publishing, you pay first and buy a publishing package. I went for Penguin Partridge Publishing as it’s a prestigious brand and a much-respected publishing house. They know what they are doing. The four packages are Topaz (Rs 70,000), Amber (Rs 1,20,000), Diamond (Rs 1,70,000) and Platinum. I bought Platinum package with 20% discount at 2.4 lakhs. I get 40 softback copies, 10 hardback copies and 20 free ebooks in this package. The ebooks will also be available from Amazon and other e-stores like Barnes & Noble.  You can find other self-publishing outfits selling an even cheaper package, but I guess one should be brand conscious in this game. You need to put a high-value price on your book. The pricing is decided by the publishing consultant at the end. You make money through royalties. There are no advances here. This is 50% of online sales, 25% of direct sales and 10% through bookstores.

Each pack is priced differently and I chose the Platinum pack. One gets editing and publishing services along with marketing and promotional materials including 50 copies and 20 free ebook copies. The launch effort is also supported by PR and web-based promotion. One gets complete rights to the book. All it needs is a book full of rich content. But this is the catch. The publishing company makes a lot of money through value-added services like extra editing and checking packages, charging for website building and making promotional videos that can cost over a lakh of rupees. They charge a fee for American copyrights and other internet promotions. One can get a Kirkus indie book review where your book is read, judged and reviewed by experts. This cost Rs 69,000. For getting US copyrights, one needs to pay another Rs 9,700. They keep making money out of you through value-added services like even charging Rs 30,000 for making your book launch promotional videos although they have only 50 to 60 views per video.

One has to buy a new package for every manuscript submitted but if you have a book published, you get the next package at a 50% discounted rate and the next with even more discounts. One can order more copies of hardback or softback if one has sold out. These would be delivered to your doorstep with shipping charges extra.

But the word is out. The proof of the self-publishing pudding is in the eating. Let’s see if I am able to make any real results through the self-publishing route or if it is going to be another example of me stroking my own ego and vanity.

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