Self publishing has increased greatly in the past few years. With the success of self published books like Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s little wonder that more authors than ever are looking into self publishing. A common misconception though is that the only people who turn to self publishing are those who can’t get into traditional publishing houses.
While the traditional publishing house used to hold the keys to publishing, self publishing options are becoming more popular for more reasons than ever before. In fact, a number of authors are choosing self publishing specifically because of legal reasons.
Retaining All Rights
When a traditional publishing house publishes a book, it takes some of the rights. This practice is part of the common operating procedures. In some cases, they may want exclusive rights, meaning that you cannot publish the book elsewhere. As you can see from LegalZoom and other such legal sites, those kinds of contracts are not easy to break. In fact, they are generally considered legal even when they seem quite extreme.
Avoid any self publisher that requires any rights other than non exclusive or first time rights. It’s unusual for a self publishing company to require any at all. Since they are not requiring any rights from you generally, you keep all of them. This means that if you want to pull the book and republish it, you can do that.
Retaining Full Control
Just as appealing as retaining all rights is the fact you retain full control of the book. This is a tremendous responsibility. You have to handle everything on your own from the front cover to the marketing. However, it also means that you have great freedom. You can get exactly the cover you want. You can decide whether your book will have illustrations or illuminated letters. All of the details are in your hands, unless you choose to sign up for another service to handle those details. Even then, you retain the final say.
Retaining Options for Other Avenues
When you publish your book through a traditional publishing house, you generally give up options for future printings without the publisher’s permission. This means that if the publishing house decides that they aren’t going to publish your book any more, you’re going to have to either accept that or purchase the rights back. With the average book making far less than 500 sales during its lifetime, the option to repackage and sell the book is an attractive one. It also allows you to do other things with the book. Initially, you might not want to leverage an eBook or audio book option. But by retaining the option for other avenues, you can do that at a later time. It’s important to keep these on the table.
Self publishing is not something for the faint of heart. Individuals who could have gotten into traditional publishing houses may still choose self publishing because it provides so much control over rights and distribution. Legally, it is the better option for most authors.