5 Reasons to Self-Publish 5

SELF-PUBLISHING no longer carries the stigma it once did. Yet, for many writers, being published by a traditional publishing house still feels like the ultimate success — and the ultimate confirmation that their writing is “good enough.”

There are advantages to being published (which I will discuss in a separate article), but here are five advantages that self-publishing has over traditional publishing and why doing it yourself may be your best choice.

  1. No gatekeepers. The competition to be published by traditional publishing houses is fierce and controlled by a multitude of gatekeepers — agents, editors, committees, bean counters — all focused on what they think the next big trend is and what they think will make money for the company. Odds of making it past the gatekeepers is very, very small. Don’t let someone else tell you your book can’t be published.
  2. Faster Timing. Everyone I know who has had their book published via a traditional publisher has had to wait years. Yes, years. First the book is accepted by an agent (this, after months of sending out queries), who then spends time marketing it (if you’re lucky, and it isn’t neglected). Then, even after it’s accepted by a publisher, the publishing process often takes another year — or more.

    If you’re young and just starting out in your writing career or if you’re a patient person, then timing may not be an issue for you. If you’re older and don’t feel that you have the time to waste waiting for someone else to decide if your book will sell, you can self publish and let the market decide.
  3. Full Control. You control every aspect of the publishing process and production schedule: editing, cover and interior design, publication venues, and release date. You also retains all rights to your book.

    True, when you give all that over to a publisher, you don’t have to coordinate and pay for these tasks separately, which can leave you free to write your next book, but that also means you may end up with a book cover you don’t like, or a release date set  years from now, or the editing may not be done to your satisfaction. It’s a bit like remodeling your home: you can subcontract out the work yourself and have complete control over the quality of the work, or you can hire a contractor who will handle all the subcontracting and details of the work. Only in this analogy, you work for the contractor, not the other way around, and you have no control over the end results.
  4. More Profit. With self-publishing, you will pay for all aspects of publishing and marketing, however you also retain a much high percentage of royalties — anywhere from 60-90%, depending upon what self-publishing options you choose. When you are traditionally published, you might typically receive 5% or 6% of net. You’ll have to sell thousands of your traditionally published books to make the same amount of money that you’ll make selling only a hundreds your self-published book.

    As an example, if you make 70% royalty and your self-published book sells for $15, you receive $10.50 for each book. Deduct the cost of printing, $3.95 in our hypothetical example, for a net of $6.55 per book. 1,000 books sold = $6,550.

    Contrast that with a royalty payment of approximately $.66 cents per book when traditionally published ($15.00 – 3.95 printing = $11.05; 6% of 11.05 = .66). 1,000 books sold = $660.

    I’ve simplified the royalty process, but I think you get the point.

    Some other things to think about:

    • The median first-time author advance from a traditional publisher is a mere $5,000. And you only earn royalties once book sales have earned back that advance (at 6%). The majority of first-time authors never win back that advance, thus never moving beyond that $5,000 earned.
    • Unless you’ve already proven yourself to be a best-selling author, publishers today will expect you to handle your own marketing and publicity, so beyond a few advance reviews and book signings, there are few marketing advantages to traditional publishing.
  5. Continuous Availability. Publishers are in business to make money. If your book doesn’t sell, and sell quickly, it will have a very short shelf life and go “out of print,” within a few weeks and become unavailable to new buyers. On the other hand, your self-published book will never go out of print. You have time to find your readers and can relaunch backlist titles to drive sales of your new books, whenever you want.

With all its advantages, it’s important to understand that self-publishing requires a great deal of hard work. And it’s not free. It’s more important than ever to have your book edited and proofed by an experienced editor and have your cover and interior designed by a qualified designer — and these services cost money. You will also need to invest money and time in your marketing efforts (this is true whether you’re traditionally or self-published), which requires learning all about marketing and takes away from your writing time.

Whether you choose to go the traditional or DIY route, publishing is not for the faint of heart. But if you believe in yourself and the message you have to carry to the world, it’s worth every step of the journey.

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Do you feel overwhelmed by the thought of learning how to self-publish?  Publish Your Chapbook! – Six Weeks to Professional Publication guides you through a simple step-by-step process for putting together a theme-based collection of your work and publishing a professional-looking chapbook using Amazon’s CreateSpace.

The methods you learn in Publish Your Chapbook!  work for any length manuscript, from a collection of poetry to a full length novel or memoir.


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5 thoughts on “5 Reasons to Self-Publish

  • Maxine Butler

    Excellent article its not easy learning at my age to do this work , but it certainly is well worth the effort after seeing a book published for the first time and those who choose to self publish more than have my respect as I know what it takes to get there to final step , thanks for sharing this amazing article Amber and all its contains.

  • Patsy Ann Taylor

    Having recently published my book, Stealing Home, I can attest to the truth of your post. I soon discovered the writing part is easier than the promoting part. BUT I wouldn’t go back to the nail-biting hunt for a traditional publisher and all the frustration and disappointment the search involves.
    Independent publishing stands up against the traditional publishing world and is growing stronger every day.

  • Mary Gorden

    Thanks for this. I’ve just self-published my first book, a memoir, and basically I self-published it for the reasons you cite. In the end for me it was the faster timing to market and the fact that it won’t go out of print.

    And it was a tremendous amount of work and a lot of money. Still for me it was worth it.