Part B – Dependent Publisher or Independent Publisher: What’s the Difference? — The Eritail Show, S1E2

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Join King Benson in this second segment of this new episode where he challenges the status quo of self-publishing with his own in-depth understanding of business and investing.

King Benson starts with a brief history of how the publishing landscape has changed starting from 2011 when he first joined the industry to its current status today in 2024.

King also shares his personal experiences of self-publishing with SmashWords and Draft2Digital for more than a decade, and the lessons he learned along the way.

King has an alarming message for authors who are self-publishing on other people’s platforms, whom he calls outside investors and dependent publishers. He explains why self-publishing success will elude most self-published authors, and he points out what self-publishers and self-published authors should watch out for if they don’t want to lose control of their publishing businesses.

TRANSCRIPT

[Transcript]

Break…

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This is The Eritail Show with King Benson. Thank you for tuning in. Now back to King Benson.

Welcome back! If you just tuned in, this is King Benson your host, and you’re listening to The Eritail Show where we pull down the curtains and take you behind the scenes of self-publishing and authorship.

All our programs are archived at eritail.com so that you can easily find, download and listen to them on your favourite devices. One of the reasons we archive them is because repetition is how we learn. So if you listen to this program again a second or third time, you’re going to pick up more. The more you listen, the more you will understand, and the smarter you will become. If you can get your friends and family to listen as well, you’ll be helping them to increase their intelligence and doing yourself a great favour.

This is the second segment of the episode, Dependent Publisher or Independent Publisher: What’s the Difference? The full episode was twice as long, so we split it in two parts. And we published Part A last week, so today we have Part B, Dependent Publisher or Independent Publisher: What’s the Difference? And the difference is one word: Control. The question is, who is in control?

Dependent Publishers are people that publish on someone else’s platform and HOPE they are in control. They don’t know anything about what goes on behind the scenes, so they must hope that things will work out. When they invest in advertising or marketing, their investment is based on hope because they can’t distinguish what’s working from what’s not working. They have no knowledge because they are not in control.

If you want to experience what it feels like to publish without control, imagine you’re a soccer ball resting on the pitch during a football game. One minute you can be feeling good by yourself on the grass, enjoying the sunshine, and the next minute, someone kicks you out. That’s the risk you keep taking every time you publish your content on a website that you don’t own or control. Besides, it doesn’t take much knowledge or intelligence to publish your content on somebody else’s alreadybuilt platform. Listen, you can train a monkey or a robot to publish a book at Amazon.

In the first segment of this episode, I talked about how Draft2Digital, an ebook distributor, kicked me out of their platform after they sold the company. They had not sent my royalties for months but I could see on my dashboard that it was adding up to quite an amount. So I emailed them to ask about it. How did they respond? They first disabled, and then erased my account from their database. Meanwhile, they never announced the sale or transfer of the company. At least not directly.

I know there are some of you out there who have yet to experience such, and you are thinking to yourself: “He must have done something wrong. They can’t kick him out like that.” My dear, you don’t have to do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. I had only one question when they told me their decision: What did I do wrong? They had no answer for me, and they did not respond to my emails after that. Tell me what I did wrong. I did nothing wrong and they don’t care!

Why should they care? It’s not my platform; it’s their platform. It’s not my website; it’s their website. It’s not my terms; it’s their terms. It’s not my business, although I think it’s my business; it’s their business. And it’s their private business! Can they be more private about their business? I don’t know!

Imagine rousing awake and finding yourself in the backseat of a taxi, being driven by someone you don’t know, to a destination you don’t know. As a dependent publisher, you’re an outside investor with no control. Because you’re an outsider, you don’t have the inside knowledge of what’s really going on within the company. All you can know about the company is exactly what the company tells you, if and when they tell you. If they’re lying to you, how will you know?

Like that soccer ball in the football game, you could be in the path of change, and have no clue. That’s how uncertain the future will be for those who build and operate on platforms that they don’t control.

Control brings responsibility, responsibility attracts knowledge, and knowledge inspires control. So knowledge is the key to having and keeping control. With knowledge, you can create the life you want. But without knowledge, you can only hope for the life you want. I can assure you, it’s better to know than to hope your investment is safe.

That is why Eritail exists. Our job is to give you the knowledge you need to create the life you want, and to control the life you create. We don’t sell investments or financial tools; what we sell is education. Hope is vital but you don’t want to rely on hope as your only option because hope is for the hopeless.

Sadly, the investment strategy of most self-publishers is hope. Once upon a time, I used to register my copyrights for free using this online company that I actually hoped will always be there. This was several years before I founded Eritail.

I was starting my first publishing business and since I had no money, I was foolish enough to believe that I could protect my copyright with a private company called MYOWS, which stands for My Original Works.

I didn’t only register my books, poems and composition, I also registered all the books that I published through my business, as well as some of my clients’ books.

This company seemed pretty legit with all the legal bells and whistles. They had templates for everything you could imagine dealing with in terms of copyright infringements. They also had a free plan. As I said, I registered all my copyrights on this company’s website.

So I felt safe enough to share my ebooks on free downloads sites across the internet. I also released studio renditions of my songs to streaming sites on the basis of this copyright protection provided by an online agency called MYOWS.

One day, I was working on this old file, and I wanted to download the copyrighted version from MYOWS. But the website was unavailable. Thinking it might be my browser or internet connection, I kept trying until I discovered that the company was no longer online. Upon further research, I found out the company was sold years ago and eventually was discontinued.

If you didn’t get that, the company that promised to protect my rights was sold, and they’re gone. Just like that. There was no fancy and elaborate FAQ page. The last time I heard from them, they had just launched their paid plans. There was no notice to their users, no blog or news update, nothing. They just vanished into thin air. Why? Because it’s their private business! And if you don’t want to be treated like that, then it’s time for you to start minding your own business.

Today, my Facebook profile looks brand new with the barest likes and followership because I created it again for the third time in 2021. In real life, I have been building on Facebook since 2011. I like to think that if I still had my first Facebook account, I’d be a legend by now. I invested my time and effort into building my strongest social media connections on Facebook. But what happened was, as soon as I’d built a thriving network with my account, Facebook stepped in and disabled my account forever.

I can totally understand if Facebook doesn’t like or understand my type of content. But that was 10 years of my professional and social media growth. When I searched for my name with someone’s account, I saw that my profile was blank. Blank! Just imagine the impression that would have sent to all my friends and customers.

The lesson is, I built a business on Facebook and lost it after 10 years all because I was not in control. If you’re not in control, it means that someone else is in control. And whoever controls your business also controls your future. For that business on Facebook, there is no future because the future belongs to Facebook and whatever Meta’s goals are.

Now if your industry or business aligns with Facebook’s goals, then you’re going to do okay but you’re still not in control. And Facebook can change its goals at any time. And if over time, your business no longer aligns with Facebook’s goals, like in my case, after 10 years, you may wake up one day and find that it’s over and you’re back at zero connections.

Some people just go back and start it all over, repeating their mistakes. To me, that is the definition of insanity. Someone said insanity is when you repeat the same actions while you’re expecting a different result. I have lost my publishing business three times and each time I have rebuilt it up from the dust. If I lost Eritail today, I know I’m going to rebuild it up again. What I won’t do is rebuild it on the same system that broke it. A wise person will know not to build on someone else’s land. Because as you may know, whoever owns the land also owns the building and development on the land.

Today, anybody can have their own digital real estate like Facebook or Amazon or Ebay. It’s so cheap to have your own website these days, you don’t need any qualifications to operate your online shop or service business. You pay for your domain name and you rent an online space to host your business, and that’s it.

As long as you keep paying your online rent, which is peanut money when compared to the price of renting a physical shop, then you can operate forever. But this power is reserved for only those who want to publish and operate as insider investors.

Independent publishing is a wholly different way to look at the world of self-publishing. An independent publisher is someone who takes responsibility for their financial success. Gone are the days when people went to school so they can get a job.

Independent publishers seek to own a business. They want to operate as owners, and not as employees of the system they’re invested in. They are authors and creators who want to build it once and for all.

It takes two and half years to get a business off the ground. Independent publishers don’t want to spend their precious lives building a business that is here today and gone tomorrow.

Independent publishers want to publish for free, but not the same type of freedom that dependent publishers are aiming for. Most independent publishers want to have freedom on their own terms. While dependent publishers want freedom on other people’s terms. Dependent publishers are happy to have control over their content. But independent publishers want to have all the seven controls of publishing.

I discussed the seven controls of publishing in my book, The Ultimate Author’s Guide to Paperback Book Printing: How to Print, Trim, Bind and Fully Produce Your Books at Home. This is the book I recommend for self-publishers who want to have full control over their print book production. If you are sick and tired of having others dictate the cost of producing your physical books, this is the guide book for you!

Inside Guide to Paperback Book Printing, I wrote that your first step as an author is to determine what type of author you want to become. In that book I talked about entitled and passionate authors, and how much control they lack because they’re publishing, but they’re not in the publishing business. I also talked about ultimate authors and why they’re so important. If your goal is to be an ultimate author, then independent publishing is the path for you. But if you want to be controlled by other people, then dependent publishing is the path for you.

Again, the difference is control. Who is in control? And how much control have you? The independent publisher controls everything while the dependent publisher only controls their manuscript and content. If you control only 20 percent of your publishing system, then my friend, you are not in control.

Millions of dependent publishers will soon find out that they are not in control. If you’re building your business on Facebook, Amazon, TikTok, Shopify or wherever, you’re soon going to find out who really owns your business. Sooner or later, you will get kicked out from the platform you have spent so much time and effort to build up. When that happens, that is when you will discover that you have not been minding your own business.

Self-publishing is not for everyone. Most self-published authors should be dependent publishers and stick to writing and editing. If you’re not interested in being an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t think of independent publishing, otherwise you will be disappointed.

Self-publishing is for those who are always innovating. It’s a tech name for the publishing business. As a self-publisher, you are in the business of publishing. So you have to be an entrepreneur to be a self-publisher. The job of an entrepreneur is to build a business.

The issue is not that independent publishers have too much faith; it’s that dependent publishers do not have enough faith in themselves. Somebody had enough faith to launch Amazon, Apple, and all the top ecommerce websites that are beloved by millions today.

And although these companies are on top today, they will be the dinosaurs and T-Rex of tomorrow because the future will produce its own entrepreneurs who will take control of their publishing and rule their worlds by faith. With pure blind faith, social proof is not needed because you’re manifesting your world from the inside out.

Ladies and gentlemen! Thank you for listening to this episode of The Eritail Show. You can subscribe or follow The Eritail Show on Spotify, YouTube, and more. Also give us a review and a rating to help other like-minded people to find this show. Goodbye, and God bless you.

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