You don’t need a large publishing company to get your book out into the market. Thousands of people are cutting out the corporate middleman — publishing their works without the need to pass through tough screenings and literary gatekeepers. Even YouTubers, a group not famed for their literary skills, have turned into authors — simply by using alternative publishing options available to everyone.
Pewdiepie has enough clout to get his book published by a large publisher, but many YouTubers don’t have his fan base or influence. Tarl Warwick (Styxhexxenhammer) is a prolific writer, with hundreds of books under his name. However, with less than 500,000 subscribers to his name (and mostly mythological and occult-themed writing) — publishing companies won’t take a risk by publishing his works. Most of his books are print-on-demand.
The service takes a PDF of your work and only prints your book if an order comes in. Most companies will also ship the book in your stead. The print-on-demand system takes care of publishing, storing, selling, and shipping. However, the convenience you get also eats away at your profit margins. If you write a ton of material and you have no idea which ones will sell, then a print-on-demand system is likely your best bet.
Shad M. Brooks (Shadiversity) covers medieval topics on his YouTube videos. He’s also an aspiring writer of fantasy fiction. Confident of his work, Shad opted to self-publish his novel. Self-publishing companies will often work with an aspiring writer — planning covers, providing illustrations (for children’s books), editing, and typesetting. They’ll provide you with a set number of hard copies that you can sell or distribute however you wish. The profit margins depend on how much you got for your hard copies and how much you sell them for. It involves a bit of risk, but the rewards can be huge.
Richard Meyer (Comics MATTER w/Ya Boi Zack) started a comic book revolution. His YouTube channel often lamented the state of the comic book industry — pointing out that the reason sales were dropping was that they weren’t giving fans what they wanted. When called out for this and asked why he didn’t just make his own comics — Meyer did exactly that. His first foray into crowdsourcing asked for a mere $5,000 and garnered more than $400,000. Despite the efforts of gatekeepers from Marvel — actual writers and employees who threatened Antarctic Press and Kickstarter to not accept his work — the comic was a huge success.
Meyer has published several other comics projects since — even getting IP rights for Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables. Other comic book professionals soon took notice and started crowdsourcing their original works. Crowdsourcing works by garnering support from people who might be interested in your work. You don’t need an initial investment — but you need to meet the expectations of your backers.
With alternative avenues of publication — almost anyone can become an author. Start writing away and don’t worry about getting picked up by a publisher. If YouTubers can get their works out — so can you.