Is Self-Publishing right for you?
When writing a book, you often go back and forth between traditional or self-publishing. The dilemma is real because, even though they both offer great advantages, they also come with restrictions.
So how do you know what’s best for you?
Well, it depends…
It depends on your situation and what matters to you. For some, what matters will be the display of their book in a bookstore, the help of an experienced and recognized team, the higher earnings through royalties, or the freedom to decide what’s best for your book. Many writers, especially those with an established Author platform, will prefer self-publishing.
Why? Well, the first barrier to traditional publishing is to find an agent, and after that, the process can take a very long time. Of course, it also presents great advantages such as being supported by an experienced team, having more chances to be on the top of prestigious best selling lists, or having the recognition of the industry. Traditional publishing is a great form of publishing, but it’s not for everyone.
So when do you know self-publishing is right for you?
Self-Publishing refers to a type of publishing where you take on the entire workload. If you’re not ready to wear the writer, marketer and seller’s hat, you can stop here. This won’t be for you.
Self-publishing is meant as a way to fully favor the author. Although in execution, it has its own limitations.
What that means to you…
As a self-publisher, you first have to have a manuscript to publish, meaning a manuscript that has been edited with a story and characters fully developed. Parts of what a publisher does are to proofread and edit the manuscript to meet the set quality standards. So as a self-publisher, you first have to set a high quality standard, which you aspire to meet or work towards.
After that, you have to come up with a cover design that best suits your work and a title that works well with it. The title must be catchy, and the cover must be attractive. Readers do judge your book by its cover. Think of what you do when you go to a bookstore or scroll through a list. There are definitely a few pitfalls to avoid before publishing.
Then come publishing and distribution. You have to figure out whether to provide your work in print or through electronic media as it best suits your needs. Distribution of the book relies on your marketing prowess and the reception that it gets once it is released.
Pros of self-publishing
Full control over your work
As opposed to traditional publishing, you get to exercise full and decisive control over your work. You get to decide what needs to be edited, how the ideas are presented, the title of your book and the cover design. These are all roles that are taken on by the publisher when it comes to traditional publishing, which can be a real downer and hindrance to your creative prowess.
When it comes to traditional publishing, you could be on the waiting list for months before your book is published. As a self-publisher, you decide when to publish your book and what avenues to take. Of course, it is not an easy process, but in comparison, it is a fast option. It can take a matter of hours to release it on Amazon and months even years through traditional publishing.
Maximum control of the profits
As part of the publishing deal you get from a publisher, you relinquish the rights to your book in exchange for an advance and royalties. The royalty rates are usually low and unsatisfactory when you factor in all the heart and work you had to pour into creating the book. As a self-publisher, most of the revenue the book generates goes directly to you. You retain full rights over the material and can control it as per your preference. So if you have a large platform (not talking social media, but overall), you may prefer this route. As a new writer, traditional publishing might still be the best avenue for you, yet again it depends on how committed you are.
Sharpening your skills
The more you self-publish, the greater the experience you gain. Over time, this helps you develop useful skills that reduce the resources you spend publishing subsequent books. You build useful relations that help you become more accomplished in the industry, and you figure out shortcuts in the system that you can use to your advantage.
Cons of self-publishing
I can’t stress enough how important having your book edited by a professional is. Since there isn’t a set standard of quality, self-publishers are expected to publish high-quality work. Unfortunately, the industry usually has a view of low quality and poorly edited work when it comes to self-publishing. I’m sure you’ve read books where there are so many typos and errors that you can’t enjoy the book. Yes – it also happens with traditional publishing, but much less. Lots of readers have become skeptical of the work that comes off of self-publishing. Therefore, even if your work has exceptional quality, it takes time for it to be recognized and to receive the appreciation it should.
You will foot the bill for everything, which is a very costly affair. You need to pay for marketing, book cover, and more. Marketing is important to get exposure, so that’s why having an author platform is so important. Generating the income needed to break even on such a project, and the low uptake the book might get from the market might put you in serious financial jeopardy.
Too much work
Since you will be working on everything by yourself, you have too much of a workload on your hands. This affects your performance and sets you back by a considerable amount of time. You might easily get stressed out and give up on the project due to frustration.
Alternatives to self-publishing
This is a great alternative to self-publishing since it is part self-publishing and part traditional publishing. It limits the cons of both self-publishing and traditional publishing and offers you a wonderful solution.
This alternative is one that you should seriously consider before committing to anything. Despite the disadvantages, traditional publishing allows you to rely (mostly) on agents and publishers who are experienced and recognized by the industry. Yes – it’ll take more time, but it’ll come with the opportunity to target a larger audience.
All in All, self-publishing is great for anyone with a large platform, who wants more power in the creative process and is willing to invest lots of time in the promotion. Indie Authors have a business entrepreneur type of mindset and are capable of hiring professionals to help.