Authors and Publishers and Agents mash it up in new ways as the book business gets remade. The reallocation of risks and rewards happens as self-publishing, e-books, and the current economies of scale with new digital technologies encroaches on the crumbling financial houses of traditional publishing.

Agents without advances these days from trade publishers now retool to manage and administrate the self-publishing initiatives of authors. Good authors whose profits will generate a percentage return to the agent are accepted as clients for the first time.

And authors are self-publishing in great numbers. Traditional publishing companies increasingly offer custom publishing in competition with the online electronic book publishing options. Amazon moved into this self-publishing mode and authors realized new profit margins. One caveat: these self-publishering ventures make money from authors, not from selling books.

Authors sell books. Whether you sign with an agent or publisher, or publish the book yourself, the author is largely responsible for all marketing and sales of the title. If you self-publish, you are personally responsible for executing the marketing strategy and all the sales. Yes, self-publishing promises a greater return on your financial investment as an author, however, the risks are much greater.

If you are an author considering the option of self-publishing today, I can’t recommend it. An author who receives rejection letters from publishers should not take their rejections as a reason to self-publish. Publishers are interested in making a profit and the profit margins are not very large anymore. If they can’t guarantee they will at least get their production costs back, they are unlikely to back your book with a contract to publish. Why should YOU take all the economic risk if professionals have reasons to think it will not be profitable?

If you decide to self-publish you still need to prepare a book prospectus, or business plan, and run some fundamental financials. You deserve to know ahead of time what your capital investment will be and what it will take to recover your expenses with sales.

If you decide to self-publish, know that your job as author is just one hat you’ll have to wear in the publication process. And if you are a writer, you may not necessarily know how to be an accountant, advertiser, marketing specialist, researcher, production specialist, distributor, sales manager, event coordinator, website designer, book cover designer, illustrator, or indexer. There are many professional hats you’ll need to wear in bringing your book the marketplace as a self-published author.

If you are a writer, write. But recognize that being a writer doesn’t mean you’d make you a successful publisher. Just because I can cook doesn’t make me a chef; and even if it did, a restaurant might still go broke for my insistence on local, fresh, artisan farmstead products.

If you are thinking about self-publishing, think again. I have known too many authors whose eagerness to get into print left them with thousands of books in their garage/basement/office for which they paid dearly but have no idea how to market, sell and distribute.

Think about becoming a better writer instead of deciding to become a publisher, too.

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