There’s a comprehensive essay about self-publishing called The 7k Report. This report tries to track the e-book and self-publishing markets and contains lots of information, but some of the most useful tidbits are that mysteries/thrillers, science fiction/fantasy, and romance are three of the hot fiction genres for e-book/self-publishing. In general, genre fiction will be easier to market because there’s already a built-in market for those types of stories. Anyone interested in spy novels will automatically be interested in your spy novel. However, if you just write a story about a boy or girl growing up and coming of age, that may be a little tougher to market initially. You could have the best coming of age novel, but it’s still harder to attract an audience.
Perhaps the most important bit of information from the 7k Report is its conclusions about self-publishing. Generally if you’re a writer, your manuscript probably falls into one of three categories:
If you have an awful book, no traditional publisher will want to publish it so you’re better off self-publishing. Whether you make any money or not is irrelevant because you most likely won’t get a traditional book contract anyway, so you might as well self-publish and get the joy of seeing your work on the market, whether anyone buys it or not.
If your book is average, then there’s a chance no traditional publisher will print it. Even if they do, there’s a large chance that it won’t make money and will go out of print. Once a book goes out of print, it’s essentially gone forever. However, if you self-publish it, then you can continue selling your book forever. You may only make a little money, but at least your book will still be available and you can publish (or self-publish) additional books on the same topic and built up a library of similar books you can sell to the public. Now each additional book on the same topic or genre helps sell the other books and you’ll gradually increase your income. Once again, self-publishing is preferable for average books because you’ll make more money in the long run and have control of your manuscript.
If your book is excellent, you may still be better off self-publishing because you can get the lion’s share of the profits and most publishers won’t do much promoting of your book anyway until it proves profitable for them. So even if your book is excellent, you’ll still need to promote it yourself so you might as well get most of the profits. Traditional publishers pay 10% of the profits while self-publishing earns you 70% of the profits.
Theoretically, traditional publishers should earn you more because of their greater distribution, but with bookstores dying and Amazon basically being the biggest book distributor in the world that’s available to publishers and self-publishers alike, the distribution advantage of traditional publishers is gone.
If your book is excellent, you’ll attract a large following through self-publishing and then traditional publishers will come calling because they want to market a proven winner. Now that your self-published book has proven to be a winner, you’ll be in a much stronger bargaining position with traditional publishers. “Fifty Shades of Grey” and “Still Alice” were both self-published books that were later snapped up by traditional publishers. You can be certain that the authors got a much better deal with the traditional publisher after they self-published first.
So no matter what the quality of your book, self-publishing offers more advantages than going with a traditional publishers. Eventually you may wonder why bother with traditional publishers, and that’s exactly why so many of them are in trouble.
Unless your book contract says otherwise, a traditional publisher gets all the rights to your book and if it goes out of print, you won’t have control of it any more. Self-publishing gives you many advantages over traditional publishers. While it might be flattering to your ego to get a traditional publishing contract, it might not be financially best for you, so consider self-publishing. It’s pretty much the future of publishing so you might as well go with the future instead of sticking to the past.