In my publishing adventures so far I have come across quite a few compelling arguments for and against self publishing. It is something I have been seriously considering since finishing my manuscript. Here, I will take you through a few of the major pros and cons of self publishing that I have discovered through my research.
Since I'm a nihilist, and I prefer to start with the bad and work towards the good, I'll be giving you the cons first.
1. Doing it all yourself.
As with any profession, there is a steep learning curve. With self publishing, not only do you have to do all of the writing yourself, you also have to find your own editors, cover designers, and distributors. It is like owning and running your own business. You will be in charge of all marketing, and how successful/unsuccessful you become is left entirely up to you.
Luckily, there are several self-publishing companies out there that offer streamlined aid in these areas... for a price. I have been looking at www.bookbaby.com as my personal likely candidate.
2. No prestige.
If what you're looking for is validation from the industry, you aren't going to get that unless you publish traditionally. But, in my opinion, if you're only publishing for the fame and not to share your work with readers, then you should reevaluate your goals!
3. Difficult distribution in bookstores.
Though it is not impossible. Most big bookstores work with traditional publishers, as that is essentially their entire business model. It is much easier to solicit local bookstores, working with them and providing a compelling argument as to why they should stock your book. This is also a good way to line yourself up for a few book signings!
4. Literary awards.
Most literary awards simply do not consider indie books. That's just the way it is. But again, if you're looking for prestige and validation, this route probably isn't for you.
5. Traditional agents.
Agents often will not sign authors who have self published in the past, or will request that the author publish under a pen name. Why? Because agents don't want to sign an author with a self published book that's only sold a few hundred copies. That doesn't look good on them. However, this can also be a pro, as performing well in self publishing can actually get you noticed by agents instead!
And now, onto the pros!
1. Complete literary control.
Most of the time, traditional publishers will want some kind of control over the content, whether its changing, adding, or completely removing scenes. When you self publish, you have total control over the content of your book, and don't have to worry about someone else trying to make changes.
2. Self publishing is fast.
What takes sometimes years with a traditional publisher can take only weeks when you self publish.
Self published authors keep a lot more in royalties. EBooks can earn you 60-70% in royalties, and printed books around 50%. Compare that to 12-20% with traditional publishers. Many self published authors end up making significantly more money than traditionally published authors.
4. Guaranteed publishing.
You don't have to query and wait to self publish; you know it will work! But this can be both a pro and a con, since it is easy to publish a bad book. Make sure your book is edited, revised, and edited some more before starting the process.
5. Getting discovered.
Especially for new authors, one of the best ways to get noticed by traditional publishers is to have success at self publishing. If you succeed and sell books on your own, you'll have agents and publishers querying you. How the tables have turned!
In conclusion, it seems as though self publishing is a viable option for many new authors, and is definitely something I am considering. A quick process and higher royalties are definitely the most appealing options for me. I am not interested in fame and fortune (though it would be nice!) so I am not as concerned with the prestige that a traditional publishing house would provide. My biggest concern is having to do it all myself, but I view that as an added benefit. I get to run my own marketing, make my own compromises, and build my own community of readers!
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Thanks for reading!
Sources: www.bookbaby.com --- www.thecreativepenn.com