Why you don't need a book deal to self publish and become a published independent author

The literary world has long looked down its nose at self-publishers. So, it follows that most “real” writers have primarily thought of self-publishing as the back-up boyfriend of the book world. And sure, there are a lot of very poorly produced self-published books taking up space on those digital shelves.

But women are all about challenging the status quo, changing things up and making it their own. And what I love about working in self-publishing is the breakneck pace of change, adaptation, development, and thought leadership going on in this space. For many successful writers and entrepreneurs-turned-authors, self-publishing is the deliberate first choice to share their story. Here’s why:


Self-publishers are making killer books.

When online services like Amazon’s CreateSpace made publishing as easy as pressing a button, the online bookshelves were utterly flooded with first drafts and covers that looked like a fourth grader took a stab at design. Self-publishing literally meant publishing by yourself—and the results reflected a total lack of professionalism. Now, firms like Girl Friday Productions and others have made traditional quality book production (including top-shelf editors and designers) accessible to self-publishers. Authors are putting out books now that readers have no idea are self-published, they look that good.


You know how to build your personal brand.

Did you know that people need to hear about a book an average of 7-10 times before they purchase it? Since you’re the queen of social, you know that online platforms provide that word-of-mouth in a scalable way. Social is one of the best ways to build relationships with your tribe directly; it’s a marketing channel that as a writer you have so much more control over than, say, publicity, where you’re competing for limited space. Since you’re already doing the work connecting with hundreds and thousands of your would-be readers, when it comes time to release a book, your readers are already listening.


There is market opportunity.

It’s no secret that publishers are looking to acquire material that will sell—and that more and more that means acquiring authors who have an established platform. But the dirty secret is that the entire industry relies on data to drive their business decisions that don’t account for Amazon sales. Why is that a big deal? Because roughly 60% of print books are sold on Amazon—totaling approximately $1.25 billion a year. In very recent years, a company called Author Earnings (and now Bookstat) aggregates Amazon sales to give us the first fully detailed picture of the sales landscape, inclusive of self-published books. And their reports show entire niches that sell well on Amazon and that traditional publishers are missing out on.

Entrepreneurs make the best indie authors.

 Self-publishing successfully is not about becoming a published author, it’s about becoming a publisher. The difference is this: becoming an author has that romantic pull—it’s realizing your creativity, your thought leadership, your story, your soul. Becoming a publisher requires putting your business pants on and making ruthless decisions around selling your product. You wouldn’t just expect consumers to flock to a new product you introduce—why expect that from readers around your book?


Self-publishing can be the best financial choice.

The other day I was speaking with an author whose traditionally published book is releasing in February (she has an established platform, national TV appearances, is a thought-leader in her space). I asked what her publisher was doing to support her launch, and she replied that they had told her to go hire a digital marketing firm (on her dime). Yes, traditional publishers pay for your editorial and design work up front, and yes, you get an early payday in the form of an advance. But you’re doing half of the legwork anyway and getting a fraction of the royalties for your efforts long term.

About the Author

Meghan harvey

Meghan Harvey is the Executive Director of Independent Publishing at Girl Friday Productions. Connect with her on Twitter @meggsaladpdx.

Girl Friday Productions

In 2006, publishing executives Ingrid Emerick and Leslie “LAM” Miller left the world of traditional publishing and struck out on their own. Why? Because they believed that flexibility isn’t a pipe dream. They had faith that people can perform creative, collaborative work, have fun, and still have lives. Because they knew that they could help authors reach their goals and achieve their dreams. And lastly, but certainly not least, they were clear that women need to build, create, and lead. GFP is proud to be a women-owned and women-led firm, helmed by Emerick and Miller, along with Christina Henry de Tessan, Meghan Harvey, and Kristin Mehus-Roe.


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