What are the Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing?


This guest post provides some great insight to those writers who are considering whether they should self-publish their book or not, by laying out both the pros and the cons of self-publishing.

Should you self-publish your next book? Whether that manuscript in progress is your first or your fiftieth book, that is the question all authors face today, whether you have been previously published or not.

So how do you decide? Since I have self-published (or, to be more accurate, self-directed) my last two books and previously have been published by Harper Collins Praeger, Greenwood and the now-defunct Nelson Hall, among others, perhaps my take on the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing will help you reach a wise decision.

Self-Publishing Advantages:

  • You are in the driver’s seat, choose your cover designer, choose your editor. And, if that editor wants to make changes to your book you don’t agree with, you don’t have to do them.
  • Not so with traditional publishing. The publisher provides the editor and designer. And (normally) you have very little say in what the cover looks like and how your story is changed.
  • You earn a higher percentage of royalties on book sales. If you publish on Amazon, you can get 70% royalties on your eBook. And you can get 60% on your paperback — minus the cost of printing the book.
  • Compare that to the traditional publishing world — where you can expect a 4% – 10% royalty on paperbacks and 25% – 50% royalty on eBooks. (If you’re a new author, expect the lower end of those percentages!)
  • When you’re ready to publish your manuscript, you can have it for sale on Amazon in a matter of hours/days. Nearly instant gratification! It could take a year or more to see your book get published by a traditional publisher.

Self-Publishing Disadvantages:

  • As a self-publisher, you don’t get a cash advance on royalties like traditionally-published authors do.
  • You are responsible for all expenses related to publishing your book — while traditional publishers cover all those things for their authors.
  • It is more difficult to get your book into bookstores and libraries. Some larger bookstores won’t take self-published books at all.
  • You are solely responsible for the marketing of your book. Traditionally-published authors have to do some of their own advertising, but the publisher takes care of PR and sets up book signings.


The bottom line?

Both self-publishing and traditional publishing have advantages and disadvantages. You just need to choose what works best for you. You should definitely consider self-publishing in some form but please go into it with your eyes wide open and a good plan. My advice is to take off the rose-colored glasses and face the fact that, in today’s publishing environment, no matter whether you self-publish or go the traditional route, you need to develop your platform, including website(s), Facebook page(s) and other social media presence and market your book yourself. You can’t depend on publishers for effective marketing unless you are already a best-selling author. Publishers expect you to be your own marketer and be diligent and persistent at it.



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