If large press publishers were the only source of new books, consumers might face a far different selection of titles. Why? "New York publishers have begun looking at margins very differently than they have traditionally," explains Dominique Raccah, founder of Sourcebooks Inc. in Naperville, Illinois, an independent press she started as a self-publisher in 1987, and which now boasts nearly 220 titles. There's been a tremendous upheaval in the industry and an increasing emphasis on blockbuster hits, she says. "That's left a number of midlist authors without a home, which presents an exciting opportunity for [small publishers]."
The same trend spells opportunity for self-published authors. Slots in the marketplace neglected by the major publishers mean plenty of open niches for independent and self-publishers.
Self-publishing holds two additional advantages. One is control. "The big difference between major publishing houses and independents is that we keep our books in print," says Jan Nathan, executive director of the Publishers Marketing Association. "As long as a title continues to sell, we can print 2,000 copies again and again. Major houses can't afford to do this."
This leads to the second advantage of self-publishing: profitability. According to Dressler, authors can expect royalties from major publishers of 8 percent to 10 percent of sales. By contrast, it's not uncommon for marketing-savvy self-publishers to see a 50 percent return on investment.