If you’re just tuning in, my self-published play was already successful but I decided to sign with a traditional publisher even though it meant a pay cut. There are three reasons why.
#2 was: Self-publishing is a lot of work!
Maybe you don’t see this as a disadvantage but it’s definitely something you should be aware of before you dive in.
Whining on The Whine Seller? Never! 😉
I need to clarify something right from the start. Sure, you can just self-publish your book and then never do anything for it. That’d be very little work. But to do it right and sell a lot of copies? That’s another story.
Anyone who has been distributing their own book for any length of time knows that it can be very time consuming. I was doing all the work: shipping out copies of the book, maintaining the website, chasing down copyright violations, writing up performance agreements and other contracts, answering emails and doing all the marketing. Self-publishing can be a full time job in itself and, considering I already have a more than full time job on my hands, things were either accidentally falling by the wayside or not getting done to my usual quality because I was being pulled in a million different directions.
Take, for example, marketing. I developed a habit the last few years of just letting the book coast on existing word of mouth. There was still sales growth, sure, but I definitely didn’t court new markets. It wasn’t really laziness, it’s been on my to do list forever, but just a lack of time. Hair on fire stuff always took precedence and the rest never seemed to get done.
While I know traditional publishers don’t do the marketing for authors they once did, from the start they are a destination for books (or, in this case, plays) so even if all they do is put it on their website, in their annual catalog and promote it on their mailing list, those are already 3 huge segments of my audience I didn’t have access to before. Before, it was me trying to get eyeballs from the entire world on my one product. Now, their marketing net draws an audience to my content because it’s side by side with similar content.
The publisher will also maintain a website for both me and my play. Of course, I’ll do marketing and still maintain my own site, Facebook page and Twitter account because, let’s be honest, I’m me, but that becomes the only element I’m responsible for. New performance requests, mailing out books, working with the printers, chasing down copyright stuff, all of that is suddenly off my plate. That stuff added up to be a lot of work on a daily basis.
I think of it this way. If I’d be willing to hire someone to take some work off my hands then I certainly should be willing to make a less profit in exchange for getting some work taken off my hands. I reached the stage where it was worth it to take a pay cut to have some of the work lessened.
If you’ve self-published, let me ask you this: How do you feel about the work load? Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Would you ever be willing to pay someone to take some of it on? Would that reflexively make you willing to take less profit for having to do less work?