Hi, my name is Robert J. Morrow, and I’m a self-published author.
Self publishing is no longer the mystery it used to be just a decade ago. Many authors are getting their books published inexpensively. And as you would expect, there are hundreds of websites popping up claiming they will help the author in the self-publishing process… for a fee.
We are no different in that sense. We charge fees for our services.
It used to be labelled “vanity press”, a business model where naive authors paid for a printing company to produce a certain amount of books for a hefty price. There was no help marketing the book and the quality was… well, questionable. They were printers and nothing else.
These days, with Print-on-Demand, quality isn’t really an issue anymore. But paying too much to print too many books certainly is.
At Sunao Publishing, we do things a little differently than most, if not all, of our competitors. For example, when I created the company it was primarily to promote and market my own books (having a publisher name on the copyright page adds credibility like you wouldn’t believe!) Along the way I learned the in’s and out’s of self-publishing and wanted to put that knowledge to good use for others.
Sunao (which means “untrapped mind”) doesn’t make money off your sales, only the services we provide to help you publish and promote your book. And we are with you every step of the way, as much or as little as you wish, from your manuscript to online promotion, book launches, book tours, ongoing advertising, etc.
But when you sell a book, you make all the profit (after Amazon or whoever takes their cut). You pay us a standard fee for various services: one-time (to get you published), or ongoing (to keep the book selling). It’s up to you. And you’ll be surprised at the initial publishing cost; it’s the lowest in the industry to the best of my knowledge. We keep it low so you’ll stick with us and let us help you sell more books over the long term.
With success learned the hard way (trial and error on my own titles), I found ways to help ensure authors could not only publish their books but get people to buy them too. As a former marketing executive, I understood the nuances of change in an online society, as well as the power of grassroots marketing (as opposed to expensive, grandiose, and boring traditional campaigns).
What about traditional publishing?
Writers dream about the traditional publisher offering them a decent advance and then doing all the work to get their book into stores. They expect the publisher to spend tons of time promoting their work and they expect to be successful immediately. They also think their first book is brilliant (it usually isn’t).
Traditional publishers still play a role—an important one—but they are not the only route for authors to go these days. And they don’t do what they used to do. In fact, the way they’ve been doing things for decades is quickly becoming obsolete and they are rapidly changing their model to match the successes of various self-publishing companies.
Most of the promotion traditional publishers do now fits into two categories:
1) they make you do all the leg work such as going to book shows, meet ‘n greets, etc. (at your expense). They print a short run of about 1000 copies (oh, and they expect you to buy several hundred of those as part of the deal). They send two to five books to stores to put on their shelves for a short period (usually 3 months) and on a consignment basis, meaning they are 100% returnable.
2) they do online marketing that others in that field do better, faster, and cheaper.
In reality, the only thing traditional publishers do better than self-publishers is get your book in brick and mortar stores; you know, like Barnes and Noble, Indigo, Chapters, etc. But only for a short period, as mentioned. And if it doesn’t sell enough copies during the designated time, the stores return the remaining copies for a full refund. That gives your book about ninety days to prove itself. Or your out.
Where do most readers find their books?
Fortunately, the biggest book retailer in the world doesn’t even have a physical store, and the books are always there… forever. Traditional publishers even place their books on that website at the same time they deliver copies to stores.
Because that store is Amazon and it sells more books than all the other publishers in the world… combined.
The great news, of course, is that you can publish on Amazon too (as well as other well chosen sites, like Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc.). And you don’t need a traditional publisher to do it. You just need a company that can steer you through the process. Like this one.
Mark Dawson and John Locke are two good examples of successful self-publishers, especially since they were early in the game and helped shape how it works for the rest of us. If you’ve never heard of them, look them up. They are both bestselling self-published authors with millions of books sold internationally.
John wrote a book about his rise to #1 New York Times bestselling author (even though he was self-published) and shows others how to emulate it. Mark runs an online school with constantly updated courses that will keep aspiring authors on top of the self-publishing world indefinitely (we highly recommend the course by the way). Both have been offered traditional publishing contracts, and although they’ve dabbled, the majority of their income comes from self-publishing.
All of this to tell you that self-publishing is no longer the “alternative”, the cheaper, lesser cousin of traditional publishing, or even the emerging trend in publishing. It has become mainstream very quickly and changed the world of publishing forever. Self publishing is no longer a niche but a driving force in the readership world. And it is constantly changing.
What lies in the future for publishing?
Many people (especially the older generation) state emphatically that hardcover and softcover sales will never die, even with the advent of e-readers. “Most people like a book they can hold and read,” they say.
This is baby boomer mentality unfortunately and by about 2015, there was an entire generation of readers who had never held a real book. They read Kindle, or they listened to Audible while driving, doing housework, or working out (both Amazon companies). When Amazon released the first Kindle reader in 2007, it sold out in five hours. And they still lead electronic publishing sales today. I know because my son is one of their readers. He read his first book (the classic “Animal Farm” by George Orwell) on his smartphone using a Kindle app. These are the readers you will be selling to in the future. For now, both print and ebooks sell (though ebooks outsell print 3 to 1 statistically). Audio books will soon take over second place, thanks in large part to Amazon’s continued support of Audible.com.
What we do… What you do
At Sunao, every author we work with publishes both electronically and in print. For the brave, we can even do audio but for now suffice to say you’ll be able to reach all readers, all the time.
The key to self publishing – and perhaps the most important thing to take from this whole article – is that quality rises to the top. If your book is NOT well written, NOT well edited, and NOT formatted professionally… Or if the cover is amateurish, dated, or confusing, then your book WON’T sell.
We provide all the services to ensure everything is up to publishing standards… except the writing. That’s your job. And if you think you’ve done a good job, send it in to us. If the majority of my staff like it, we’ll invite you to publish with us. Oh, you’ll pay for our services (our prices aren’t outrageous) but the end result will be a professional book of high quality that stands every chance of becoming a bestseller. (If we don’t like the book, we’ll tell you why and how you can improve it, so it becomes publishable. No cost for the advice.)
My team and I look forward to working with you. If you have any questions whatsoever, please email me directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be happy to personally answer your questions to the best of my ability.
Robert J. Morrow
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
Sunao International Publishing Group