Writer’s Thoughts #2 Why Self-Publish

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Ismail Kamdar

Channel: Ismail Kamdar

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Salam alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh hamdulillah wa salatu salam ala Rasulillah. So this is video two in the series on writer's Thoughts where I discuss some of the issues related to writing books. I was hoping to convey this video a lot earlier. But fortunately, the past month has been really busy. I'll try to get more consistent with the series as time goes on. Now, what I want to discuss today is why I chose to self publish my books, this is a question I get asked often by young authors, should we go with a traditional publisher? Or should we Self Publish? And the answer is not straightforward. It really depends on what your goals are. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to

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tell you my story, and explain to you why I made these choices to Self Publish, and how this helped me and benefited me. And then based on that, I will give some details on who self publishing works for and irregular publishing works better for because there's pros and cons to both methods, depending on what your actual goals are, when writing a book. So began actually published my first book when I was, I wrote it when I was 21, published it when I was 23. And that's the book having fun, the halal way. I was very, very young when I wrote this book. So that book was published the regular way through a international public publishing house in Saudi Arabia. And the the reason why

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I never stopped with that, is because I found that the traditional way of publishing, especially to the old school, Muslim publishers, at least at that time, did not really have a high profit margin. So when it comes to regular publishing,

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you will find that most of the western publishers have this method where they give you 10%. Or if you'd like famous, maybe 20% of the profits. And that's good, right? If you're getting 20 20% of the profits, and the books are reaching all over the world. And that's, that's great. That's fantastic. But what is happening about 20 years ago, and I don't know if it's still the same today, but about 20 years ago with the traditional Muslim publishers in in the Middle East, was that they were buying the book of you taking the copyright of the book, and paying you a fee to write the book, so you're not getting any royalties, you're just getting one upfront payment. So they may pay you like $1,000,

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or $5,000, whatever it is for your book. But that's it don't make it any more money behind it. So I realized very early on that this is not a profitable route to go through if you want to write books. Now, again, people write books for different reasons. Some people want to reach more people, others want to make more profit. And both of this is fine. It's either way, it's fine. It's up to you what your goals are. Right. And we sonically both these methods are completely jalapenos. Some people have a problem with people wanting to make profits of their works. That's I don't know where that came from. For the someone's working hard on something, I believe they're entitled to profit on it,

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especially in this day and age where we don't have all of the funding Mr. motors. So I decided that I want to be financially independent. And one of the methods of getting there was through being profitable in my writings. So I started looking for alternative routes for writing, publishing books, ways to be more profitable. And eventually, many years later, so we're looking at about 2014. So as a five year gap between my books, right, so for five years, I didn't really write books, I was kind of disappointed with the whole publishing route that kind of put me off writing for a while. But about five years later had these ideas for poker time management and a book on self confidence.

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And I decided to try a different route. And I made a different mistake. So what I did this time was, I hired a company that assist you in self publishing. Now, what I did not know is that a lot of these companies that assist you in self publishing, are essentially con artists, right? They charge you a fee to publish your book. And that book barely has any rich, and it's highly unlikely to make a profit. So you end up paying for getting your book published, and you're not gonna see much return on income. So I published two books that year. And it was a huge loss for me financially. Within six months, I cancelled my contract with a publisher, I was very angry. And then I discovered a

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different route. And this route was not well known back in 2014. Now it's become quite common. But that's when I discovered that I could just self publish my books directly to Amazon and my own website. So I started my own website, Islamic Self Help 2014 as a platform for my books. And

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those same books I republish them on the new names on my platform and on Amazon, and they started generating a modest profit

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But I was happy, I was very happy because writing had gone for me from being not profitable at all, to making a loss to being modestly profitable. And that's huge improvement. Because if it's modestly profitable, if like 10 people are buying my books a month, then over time, I can scale that I can grow that. So I decided to go full time on the side rather full time, I decided to dedicate my spare time, all of it, to building this up. So I was working a job eight hours a day. And then before work, wake up early and focused on this. And even after work and weekends, I focused on this. And I started building up this platform of Islamic self help and self self publishing books, and on top of

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the SSL publishing online courses, because I found this to be an amazing way to generate side income and to improve the quality of life for my family, and helped me achieve my financial goals faster. So that's why I went down the route of self publishing. And to be very frank and honest with you, it was for the sake of making more profit. And it worked out for me Hamdulillah, I'm actually very happy now, eight years later, with how much

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Islamic self help has grown. It's a good source of income for me now. It's benefiting 1000s of people around the world and Hamdulillah, it worked out great for me. So then, that brings us to the big question that people ask, should we Self Publish? Or should we go with a regular publisher if they offering us a 10% or 20% royalty? And I say that depends. There's pros and cons to both methods. So what self publishing what are the pros, the pros of self publishing, number one, you are in charge of the entire process. It's your baby, right? You decide what gets written, what stays in the book, what gets published, how the cover looks, what the title is,

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you know, how the marketing is done, you are in charge of everything. And you have the freedom then to do it exactly the way you want to like my book on the productivity, productivity principles of Omar, Abdul Aziz, is exactly the way I wanted it to be. From the cover design to the foreword by Dr. Yasser Bodhi to the layout of the chapters, everything's exactly the way I wanted it. Because it was self published 100, that book was was a hit, even though it was self published.

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The con of self publishing is that you are entirely in charge, right? It's a two edged sword. If you are entirely in charge, you can make things exactly the way you want. But you also are responsible for everything. So I had to learn editing, I had to hire people to Edit My Books to design the covers, I had to teach myself marketing website design, to teach myself how to lay out a book, how to self publish a book,

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How to consistently do marketing over the long term. And of course, these are skills that I, I knew at a young age, I had to learn all of this in my late 20s and early 30s. But nonetheless, I learned all of this, and I was able to accelerate this. So you can too, but just realize, if you're going down the route of self publishing, it is a lot of hard work, right? When you have a regular publisher, they take on the tasks of cover design, of editing of proofreading of typesetting, of marketing of distribution, they take over all of that, you just write the book, and they handle the rest, and you make a 20% or 10% profit. If you're going with self publishing now, self publishing

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can make up to 80% profit, right? Meaning if you're selling your books for like $22, you can easily make 19 or $20 profit from each book sale. Now, I would suggest if you're a new author to put your book prices that high, especially if people don't know who you are. But it is quite possible to make a much larger profit to through personal publishing through the regular method. So another benefit that comes with self publishing is justice, which is the high profit margins, the profit margins are much higher, so you have to sell less to make profit. So the way I look at it is the average book online course I put out, I just need to sell 100 to make up my investment and start being

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profitable. And for me, at this point, selling 100, the company law, it's very much possible, or the last online course I put out, sold over 1300. So far, so hamdulillah definitely was profitable. So you need to be able to sell the 100 is the thing, this is the kind of it. This is the problem with a lot of people don't realize the average self published book sells like 10 or 20 copies. And this happened to some of my books as well. Some of my books have sold only 10 or 20 copies, they were not profitable, especially during the early years. Right. So this is something to be aware of. If you're going down the self publishing route, you're going to reach less people, you're only going to reach

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the people that know you. You're not going to be reaching unknown crowds very easily unless somehow Your book goes viral because it's that good. But it's really on you to reach your audience. Now another benefit of self publishing that I personally enjoy is having a direct connect

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Action, would you read this, I love this. I love this. Because what's up publishing, I am selling the ebooks directly on my website, I'm selling online courses directly on my website, I am directly interacting with every reader. So if a book has 1000 readers, I have direct access to these 1000 people to get their feedback, to discuss with them to build off it. And so often the readers will reach out to me on Twitter, Facebook, and email and ask me for advice and asked me to explain certain chapters to them. And we're able to build a community, we're able to build connections between the author and the reader, and I find this to be very, very valuable, the content is going

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to reach less people. If you go the regular publishing route, it is much easier for your book to reach 50,000 or 100,000 sales. While if you go the self publishing route, really 1000 sales is huge, it's huge, because it's very rare for a self published book to even reach 1000 sales, then again, it balances out profit wise, because you have a much higher profit margin with the self published book. So why does self publishing work? For me? It works for me for a variety of reasons. Number one, I already have a high reach on social media, right? So at time of recording, I have about 19,000 followers on Twitter, 50,000 followers on Facebook. So if I put out a new ebook online course,

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there's already 1000s of people who know about it, which means it's possible for at least 100 people to buy it, right. So this works in my favor. Now, if you're someone who doesn't have that reach, it's going to be much harder for your first self published book to be a hit. And many people I know, felt is very hard that they saw five books that well, and they copy the exact same system. And the book sold 10 or 20 copies, and they were really angry. And really, they missed out on this part that you need to build your reach. First, you need to have an audience for the book before you publish it. If you're going down the self publishing route, that you go into a traditional publisher, they

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have other ways for your books to reach people, even if you are unknown. And that could work in your favor, if you don't already have a built in audience. Another reason why self publishing work for me is that I like being in charge. I like being my own boss, I like being independent, I like doing things my way. And self publishing allows me to do that. Had I gone down a regular publishing route, I'd have to be dealing with editors, people telling me keep this in your book, take this out, we don't like this, this is too controversial meal. Now, not to say my books don't have editors, I do hire editors that you send it to my friends and teachers for feedback, I do get critical feedback of

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the content to make sure it's authentic. But at the end of the day, I'm publishing my voice, not a book that has been heavily edited to suit somebody else's ideas of what is right and wrong. And so that's why it works for me, I'm able to just be very frank about what I believe and what I say, without people drowning out my voice in the editing process. And that's what I love about it. Now, some people may not like being in charge like that they may want someone else to handle the bigger picture things because you know, they don't have the confidence in what they're writing. In that case, having a publisher would be much more in your favor, because you now have a whole team around

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you to guide your research. Right.

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Another way that self publishing benefited me personally, and this is just my case, I don't know this will ever happen with somebody else was all the skills I learned to self publishing, eventually led to me having becoming in charge of the publication department in the organization that I work for. So these skills eventually transferred into a into a job for me and Hamdulillah. And I'm using the same skills now at my job that I do on my business. And had I not started that business and taught myself the skills and learned all of this on the side. I probably wouldn't have this job today. But you know, this is a side benefit that came during I'm not saying anyone who self

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publishes will get a similar side benefit. But you know, I believe when you work hard and you teach yourself your skills, Allah will open doors for you in those areas. And that's what happened to me as well. So self publishing works for me, because I already have rich online already have

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the skills to Self Publish. I didn't have it when I started. My first few books were a disaster. Some of them were edited properly, some had terrible cover design. Some of them are topics nobody wants to read about. But I learned from each book. Every book I wrote, I learned from the process if it was a flop pace, analyze wide flop so I don't repeat the same mistake if it was a hitter analyze why did well and I try to replicate that. So

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I've published over 12 books in my life. And I would say only about three or four of them are actually hits, or the rest really didn't do well at all. But that's fine because I learned from my mistakes. And I grew from my mistakes and I developed very valuable skills from from the mistakes that I made. And that's why I'm now able to do well in the field of self publishing, because I kept learning from my mistakes. Now, one last bit of advice if you're going down the route of self publishing, understand that self publishing is

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not the same as being an auto. Self publishing is really being a business owner. That's what it is you are being a small business owner, you are now running a book sales business, you are in charge of writing the books, making sure it's edited quality control, cover design, publications, consistency of getting products out, marketing, blogs, social media marketing, you are running a one man or one woman business, if you are in the if you are self publishing. So if you are not business minded, if you are not interested in having your own online business, then self publishing is not going to work for you, you cannot just put a book out on Amazon or Gumroad, or any of these

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platforms, and just leave it there and expect it to reach a lot of people, you have to take full ownership and take this thing on as a business.

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And I enjoyed this, I enjoy running an online business. So that's another reason why I'm able to do this well. But if you don't like business, if you hate handling the business side of things, if you just want to write a book, get it out there and move on to your next book, then I highly advise that you stick with the regular traditional publishing. So to end off, should you self publish, or should you go along the route of the traditional publishers, I say that depends on your personality. And more importantly, it depends on your goals. If you want to reach the most people, and write books and not worry about anything else, besides the writing process, then stick with the traditional

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publisher. Because they will handle everything else and you'll get your 10 20% profit at the end of the day. And you know that that's good enough for Hamdulillah. For some people, that's a lot of money if they booked as well. But if you if you're interested in building a platform, if you're interested in building your own audience of being able to connect with your readers of having a way to reach out to people, if you want to be in charge of the process, if you want to have the final say on what what is published, then self publishing works better for you. And that's why it works for me. So I like being my own boss, I like being in charge of things I like

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knowing that what was published is exactly what I wanted to see, unfiltered, not watered down by anybody else. Like, for example, my history of Islam online course, which is 100, at the moment, the best selling product on Islamic self help. It's it's very unfiltered. Right? I talk very blatantly about topics like Islamic warfare and slavery and

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polygamy and the civil wars. And basically, it's an unfiltered reading of Muslim history, and deriving lessons from it without worrying about upsetting, you know, either side of the office more than the spectrum. And I don't think I'd be able to be as unfolded if I had thought that cost to another platform, because then they'd be like, don't talk about this. It's too controversial. Don't talk about that people not ready for it. No, don't bring up this topic. People don't need to hear about it. I'm like, No, this is my cause my website, I'm self publishing it, I'm going to say what I want. And I think if you have that personality, and you really want to be in charge of what you say,

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then self publishing is best for you. Whether we talking about books or online courses, we get that that's why I self publish. And again, not all of my books are self publishing, some of my newer books are published through the organization are working for. And

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some of our older books are published, you know, to traditional publishers, but I would say the majority of my books are self published. And that's due to the ones I enjoy writing more, because I enjoy the entire process of writing, and editing and marketing and just, you know, creating a product that benefits people and most most important, I enjoy interacting with the people who benefited from it, having people email me and phone me and contact me on social media to tell them how much tell me how much you've benefited from the book or the online course. And to exchange ideas and to ask questions. I enjoy all of that. And I feel all of that it's a lot easier when you self

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publish because you have more of a community between yourself and your readers or students. So that's it for today. I hope you found this beneficial if you're an author and you're looking into deciding between publishing and self publishing, I hope my experience benefits you. May Allah make things easy for all of us may help you to accelerate your goals and to write beneficial works that benefit this ummah, desire color hair. Until next time, Salaam Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh