Online Publishing: Pro, Cons and Alternate Solutions

ebookYou have a great idea for a book and are committed to writing it and having it published.  In days past, this would be a long road of sending your work off to publishing houses with the hope that they would someday decide to publish your book.  Now, online publishing is a viable option to consider when choosing how to distribute your material.  Billions around the globe have access to the internet and that number grows every day.  Is online publishing right for you? Let’s take a look.

There are pros and cons involved in distributing your work as an e-book.  Giants like Amazon will help you create and self-publish your newly composed title (for a price, of course) and help distribute it to the masses.  Here are some positives involved in the online publishing route:

  • Printing costs are non-existent.  There is no paper or binding, no shipping and handling.
  • The world changes rapidly, and an e-book can too.  If your book is topical to the present or near future, when that changes, so can your work.  You have the power to update your source materials faster and easier than a standard printed book. When a traditional book is printed, it is typically printed in bulk, meaning that the content cannot be changed without costly consequences of re-printing thousands of copies. An e-book is more malleable.
  • The possible market share to discover and enjoy your e-book is massive. Billions of people use e-readers and the self-published or “indie book” genre is a popular segment of this market.
  • Complete creative control of the book cover, content and marketing is an author’s dream come true.  And if you need help, there are professional service providers available for hire.
  • Avoiding antiquated royalty splits of big publishing houses is a big plus.  Imagine earning only 6% revenue on your book – typical of traditional publishing houses.
  • No deadlines.  Publishers want results and they want them now.  If the publisher sets a deadline then the book needs to be delivered by that time.  If you are self-publishing, you have the ability to set your own deadlines.

Another advantage of online publishing is supplementing your book with other materials such as an online course to expand the scope of the content.  For example, let’s say you’ve written a book on the history of Native Americans on the Ohio Valley before the Civil War.  Platforms like Udemy allow you to quickly and easily create and sell online courses within a global marketplace. You could offer a fully designed course to supplement your book.  The book will market the course, the course will market the book and Udemy will market you. That’s a huge positive in the world of online publishing.

Online publishing is an exciting and growing market, but there are some drawbacks to keep in mind.

  • Sites such as Amazon will publish your book and distribute it to their vast network of customers.  Such exposure comes at a price of 65% gross on book sales.
  • Billions of people are connected to the web, translating into billions of potential customers. A handful of search engines make these connections possible and if you want to play, you got to pay.  Think of these fees as replacing the printing costs of the book.
  • Publishing houses know their readers and what they want.  If you are striking out on your own for a new book, there may or may not be a market for what you are selling.  It’s a gamble.
  • Despite low revenue splits, without the machine of a big publishing firm behind you, your sales will almost certainly be lower then that of a traditional book. According to leading analysts in the field, online publishing revenue accounts for less then 10% of total book sales.
  • It’s a masterpiece. And no one will tell you otherwise.  Editing, cover art that will catch the eye. Setting the price. All great freedoms for sure.  But let’s face it – the worst editor is an author.  Catching mistakes in punctuation, verbiage or just plain bad writing is best left to professionals.  More fees to consider.
  • No deadlines. Although we listed this as a positive, it can be a negative as well. Some people work better under pressure.  I know I do.  If there is no reasonable time limit on the work that needs to be done, it might not get done.  Self-imposed deadlines are easily broken, since the boss and the employee are one in the same.

Another interesting option to note is that, with or without a written book, there are new options that allow content creators to create and sell their work. Udemy anticipates the needs of both the content creator and the customer, offering the tools necessary to create and publish content from scratch, and a viable marketplace to discover and buy content on virtually any subject matter. This can serve as an avenue for your knowledge and expertise in a particular topic.

The platform provides all of the necessary tools to create a course from scratch, create videos, post lessons and set a price for your course.  It can be an especially positive alternative to publishing non-fiction work.

No matter which route you choose, it is an exciting time to be a creator.  There are more options than ever to get your work out there. Whether it’s traditional publishing, e-book publishing or the online course route, if you are determined to publish – you can.  If you have something to say – you will.  It’s never been easier to share your knowledge with the world (and make a decent penny doing it). It is truly a new age in publishing.