When an author finishes or is close to finishing their book, they are faced with a question that is fundamental to an author’s being that is which publishing route would they go down: Whether they choose to try their luck with traditional publishing, or whether they choose to roll their sleeves up and dig into self-publishing.
While traditional publishing isn’t an easy job to do, self-publishing isn’t a breeze either, and each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. This article, in particular, discusses the pros and cons of self publishing a book.
What is self-publishing?
Self-publishing is essentially a process through which authors can skip the hassle of approaching a publishing house and getting their book published the traditional way. In self-publishing, the author is responsible to handle everything from printing and distribution to marketing and PR. Since the author is essentially working independently, self-publishing is also known as independent publishing.
Pros Of Self Publishing
1. You gain exposure quickly
One of the main benefits of self-publishing a book is that authors gain exposure to the market more quickly than what it would take in a traditional publishing agreement. Given the involvement of the internet in self-publishing, an author can get their book published in literally a day and post it on online websites for sales the very same day.
In a traditional publishing agreement, however, the turnaround time for a book to get published can be anywhere between 9 to 18 months at a minimum. Heightened exposure is especially essential when you are writing about a topic that is relevant in the current global climate (such as self-help books to manage mental health during the pandemic) and hence self-publishing may be the only viable option for you.
2. You have superior creative control
It is no surprise that if you choose to self-publish, you have superior creative control over your book’s content and its appearance. In a traditional publishing agreement, the publishing house has the upper hand in determining the content of the book. Your book may go through so many executives in the publishing house that it may come out being altogether different from what you envisioned it to be. Editors, designers, marketers, and researchers exchange each book before having it published, and you may have to respect most of the changes they suggest
However, if you choose to self-publish, you get to make all the decisions about your book’s content, design, cover, and overall message. Superior creative control would ensure that your book remains true to what you envisioned it to be and that it is representative of you in the full sense.
3. You have high royalties
Self-publishing results in higher royalties than what you would be getting out of a traditional publishing agreement. If you choose to publish through a publishing house, you might get at most 15% (or higher if you are a bestselling author) of the profits of your book. However, if you choose to self-publish with online platforms like Amazon, you can keep up to 70% of the proceeds of your book sales. Hence, self-publishing is a profitable route for both new and established authors.
In addition to royalties, self-publishing through online platforms allows authors to retain the rights for adaptations of their books from Netflix and TV shows. In a traditional publishing agreement, likely, you might only partly retain these rights along with your publishing house and hence receive a smaller share of the agreement.
Cons Of Self Publishing
1. You get little to no editorial support
The biggest disadvantage of self-publishing is that authors get little to no editorial support and do not have an editorial team at their back. If authors choose to publish traditionally, they get access to an entire editorial team that is experienced in their respective roles. They help the author ensure that their work is free from any grammatical errors whatsoever and other mistakes.
Authors who choose to self-publish have to spend extra on hiring a trusted editorial company that can support their editorial needs. Authors will also have to spend extra on hiring someone to create cover art, and this is an expense that could have been avoided by going down the traditional route.
2. You have to spend on marketing
When authors choose to self-publish, they have to spend additional funds of their own on marketing their publications. When authors publish traditionally through a publishing house, they get to benefit from the publishing house’s existing platform to market the book. Publishers also have relations with bookstores to set up stalls that stand out and are also able to secure third-party reviews.
A disadvantage of self-publishing is that authors have to seek testimonials and reviews on their own by sending copies of their book or e-book to different reviewers and established authors. Authors have to spend a substantial amount of money on advertising their books and sponsoring advertisements.
3. You may face troubles with distribution
If authors choose to self-publish, publishing through Amazon is no trouble at all, but getting print distribution is a difficult feat to achieve. Getting print distribution and establishing contracts with bookstores can be difficult, as bookstores aren’t very welcoming toward new authors and do not entertain authors that aren’t backed by a renowned publishing house.
Most bookstores also have exclusive deals with certain major publishers and refrain from stepping out of their respective deals to entertain new authors. Authors who choose to self-publish may have to rely on indie bookstores for print distribution.
As a new author choosing to self-publish, you may as well kiss goodbye to your dreams of seeing a hardcover copy of your book in major bookstores and may have to rely on Amazon and other online platforms for online distribution instead. Attaining print distribution in major stores would be a very difficult feat to achieve and would need you to contact and approach several executives before you land something substantial.
If you are looking to publish your book, but are divided over which approach you should be choosing, the above-mentioned pros and cons of self-publishing will help you make a swift decision. The key here is to weigh the pros and cons of each approach before making a decision and settle with whichever approach poses the most benefits for you in addition to posing the least drawbacks.