Why Self Publish?
I wrote a book and very early on in that project I struggled with the choice about whether of not to self publish my novel. It’s a choice that every writer has to face and there is no right answer for everyone. Both camps have pros and cons.
Traditional Publishing Pros
I haven’t traditionally published a book before so this is just some of the things I’ve learned from reading about other people’s experiences.
When you go through a publisher to get your book out to the audience you don’t have too stress about as many things. You don’t have to hunt down an editor or cover designer. That’s something that the publisher takes care of. Not just that but you don’t have to personally pay those people for making your book look pretty. That can be a big deal because editing can be expensive so not everyone can afford to make a quality self published book.
When I decided I was going to make a self published book I had no idea how much it was going to cost. When I went online to see what other books cost to edit I found nothing helpful. So I will give you something to go off of. Catalyst is about 90k words and I hired an editor who charge $20 an hour. Te estimate she gave me was $2000 and the final tally was very near that number. If I would have gone through a publisher then I wouldn’t have had to pay that.
By the way, my book has been called “the best self published book I have read” because it was professionally edited. If you are self publishing don’t even think about not getting an editor.
Traditional Publishing Cons
This is a list of things that drove me to self publish.
Apparently the average traditionally published author gets very small returns from each book sale. I didn’t want to do all that work and then get a penny or to for every book sold.
You don’t have to pay for the cover but a lot of times, most of the time, you don’t get a say in what the cover looks like. That would be terrible because there are so many bad covers out there. The cover is the first thing the customer sees so if you have a bad cover and have no way to change it then selling it is going to be that much harder and slightly embarrassing.
It’s just as much work as self publishing, especially for new authors. For a long time I was under the illusion that the publishing company – if I did traditionally publish – would take care of the marketing for me and I could just sit back and send my royalty checks like a boss.
But that’s not true.
If you notice, when you submit books to most publishing companies, besides want the a copy of the manuscript of your book, they also want to see your marketing strategy. Why would they want a marketing strategy from you if they are just going to do it themselves?
I’ve also read articles about authors being told to tweet, Facebook, and blog a certain amount of times a day and to book signings and such. If they were self publishing they would be doing that anyway so it’s like the traditional publishers aren’t adding anything but taking a larger chunk of book sales. Lame. I’d rather just do it myself.
But the thing that finally helped me make my decision was the fact that when you traditionally publish you typically give up all your rights. Your book is no longer your book, it’s the company’s. That means you can’t do whatever you want with your book you have to get permission and do only what they want you to do. You don’t get to decide formats, markets, movie deals, reprints, cover design, rewrites, anything, because you don’t own the rights anymore.
Why would I do all that work creating a unique reading experience and then just hand it over to someone else to do what they want with it?
The pros and cons of self publishing are kind of the opposite of of traditional publishing.
Con – You have to pay for the editing and cover design.
Pro – you get complete control over your work. Which can be a double edged sword if you don’t do it right.
Pro – You get a higher percentage of book sales
Con – it’s a lot of work and takes self motivation and self discipline.
Pro – it takes as much work, self motivation and self discipline as traditional publishing for a higher percentage of book sales.
Don’t Forget to Get an Editor
One last time, for the sake of your audience and for the sake of other people in the self publishing community who are trying to make a living as a writer, don’t forget to get your work professionally edited before you publish. If you want people to take you serious then you have to take your self serious and that means treating your book right and giving it its best chance to find readers.