Self-publishing has grown in popularity over the past few years. With the ease of self-publishing platforms and the rise of indie authors, it's no wonder why more and more people are choosing to publish their work themselves. But is self-publishing the right choice for you? This blog post will discuss the pros and cons of self-publishing to help you decide if it's right for you.
What is self-publishing and how does it work?
Self-publishing is exactly what the name describes: YOU become the publisher of your own book. Every task in the publishing process falls on your shoulders. Writing, editing, cover design, distribution, marketing, and long-term business decisions. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is. With great responsibility comes great rewards, though… especially if you’re willing to put in the work!
I could write a whole blog post (or a hundred) about how the process works, but there are entire courses out there to walk you through it. I’m here simply to discuss the high-level pros and cons so you can determine if it’s the right path for you.
Control over the publishing process: As the publisher, you have complete control over the publishing process. Instead of writing the book and handing it off to a team who may or may not make good decisions, the ball is completely in your court. This is terrifying but also very liberating.
When I finished my first book, I wanted to pursue traditional publishing. After spending several months in the query trenches and interacting with agents, I started doing some research on self-publishing. I wasn’t sure it was the right fit for me, but I dove in anyway. And you know what? I don’t know that I’ll ever give that control back. I love making all the decisions for my story and wearing lots of different hats during the process. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it’s also a lot of FUN!
More creative freedom: Because I’m the one publishing my own book, I have ultimate freedom over what I’ll write and how I’ll present it. In traditional publishing, authors have to stay within the box that big publishers have created in order for their books to succeed in the market. Granted, top publishers know what sells, but making that decision myself allows me the freedom to write to market… or not! I can write a book for a niche audience that a top publisher would never pursue and still make great money.
Faster turnaround time: If you’ve looked at the top self-publishing authors in the market, you’ll probably notice that many of them have crazy fast turnaround time for their books. Some of them release books as fast as once a month. Cami Checketts, one of my clients for my line editing business, writes a book every two weeks. When you have control over project timelines, you can produce as fast or as slow as you want. No more being stuck to a one- or two-book a year schedule!
Higher royalties: Obviously, if you do all the work, you get paid more. With Amazon, you can get up to 70% of your ebook’s value in royalties. With traditional publishing, authors typically get 10-20% per book. That’s a substantial difference in pay check, especially if you’re selling a lot of books!
Lack of support: Self-publishing can be a lonely job sometimes. If you want support, you have to hire it out, and it can sometimes be difficult to find the RIGHT support for your book. Learning the business yourself can be costly, especially when you’re first starting out. On my most recent book release, I ended up spending about $4,000 between production costs and marketing. If you don’t have that money up front, it can be difficult to stomach the idea. My line editing job completely funds my author career for now as I’m building my back list.
Marketing is up to you: This is becoming true for more and more publishers, but in self-publishing, the marketing (and its associated costs) all fall on you. This can be as expensive or as cheap as you want to make it, but many of the big-name self-publishing authors drop tens of thousands a month to keep their books advertised and at the top of the bestseller lists. Crazy to think about!
Difficult to stand out: Amazon publishes thousands (if not tens of thousands) or self-published books every day. When you join the self-publishing crowd, it can be difficult to stand out in those massive numbers without a big publishing house supporting you. It takes time, practice, and a LOT of patience to build a career this way!
So, is self-publishing right for you? That depends on your goals and what you’re willing to put into it. If you want more control over the publishing process, more creative freedom, a faster turnaround time, and higher royalties, then self-publishing may be a good option for you. However, keep in mind that there are some drawbacks – such as the lack of editorial and design support and the burden of marketing costs. Do your research before making any decisions so you know exactly what you’re getting into. Looking for a good place to start? Check out the 20Booksto50K group on Facebook. There’s a goldmine of information there for writers who are looking to self-publish!
Have questions about self-publishing? Let me know in the comments below!