Whether you’re a brand new author about to launch your first book or a seasoned writer with several ISBNs to your name, self-publishing your next novel might be the best option. Self-publishing no longer has the stigma associated with it of being the last option for the rejected author. Keep in mind too that many publishers will not consider proposals directly from authors, only from literary agents. Here are some additional reasons why you might want to consider publishing your next project yourself.
You have full control over your project, from the title and content to the layout and design, including the cover art. You won’t be at the mercy of a publisher that wants to convert your work into something totally different than you intended, changing not just the title but also the main message or plot. While all wise authors would do well to have their work proofread and edited for grammar, as well as for clarity, consistency, and continuity, the self-published author retains control over all final decisions. You can choose to accept or reject suggestions as you see fit. However, if you take the time to seek out experienced editing and design professionals, you should give their expert opinions due consideration.
2. Time-Sensitive Material
If your current project contains time-sensitive material that needs to be available immediately, you’d be better off publishing it yourself. When your manuscript is accepted for publication by a mainstream publisher, your book will be published according to their timeline, not yours. Often the wait to see your work in print, from the time of acceptance to the time of actual release, can be anywhere from several months to — even more likely — a year or longer.¹
3. Keep Your Own Profits
You’re the one who did all the hard work, so why shouldn’t you keep all your own profits? It isn’t wrong to want to be rewarded for your efforts instead of enriching some publisher’s bank account. While it’s true a mainstream publisher invests (and risks) a great deal of money getting an author’s work into the public’s hands, the book is still the author’s baby, and as such, it will still be up to the author to promote their own work. (See my next point.)
4. Unlimited Promotion
You are your own best promoter anyway, so why rely on the false assumption that mainstream publishers will look after all the tedious marketing stuff for you. If you’re under the impression that once a publisher accepts your manuscript they’ll forge ahead with endless promotion of your book, you’re going to be in for a big let-down. Unless your name is Stephen King or J. K. Rowling, a mainstream publisher will devote only the most minimal promotion to an unknown author’s work. If you want your book promoted, you’ll still have to do it yourself if you ever want to see positive sales results. Keep in mind that you are just one of many authors that a publisher handles, and you will therefore be competing with many other like-minded writers for the publisher’s limited time and resources. Since you’ll be responsible for much of your own promotion, why not do it right from the start.
5. Avoid Rejection
If this alone is your reason for self-publishing, then it’s not enough. Still, if you have a product that you know is salable, but publishers just can’t see that, then avoid wasting time with repeated rejections and self-publish instead. Perhaps you have a unique point of view on an already popular topic, and publishers refuse to waste time on your work when they feel the niche it fills is already saturated. Or perhaps your niche market is too narrow for a mainstream publisher to see the sales benefits. If you’ve already done your own market testing to know the demand is there, then self-publishing is the route to go.
Self-publishing in the digital age has gotten even easier and less costly for struggling (and sometimes starving) authors. No longer do you need to spend your life’s savings or take out a loan to see your book in print. Thanks to the popularity and variety of ebook readers – not to mention the tablets (iPad) – the digital book market is booming; with ebook sales ever on the increase year after year, while the sale of physical books continues on a steady decline.²
Maybe you still want to see your book in a professionally printed format, and that’s entirely up to you. If you self-publish, expect to pay a small fortune for that honor. But even if you go the printed route, you should also include an ebook format for those (like me) who no longer buy the dead tree versions. Don’t exclude the only part of the book market industry that’s actually growing.
Remember: Even if you decide to self-publish, you will still need a professional-looking cover and a professionally edited product if you want to have success in the very competitive industry of selling books.
1. Donadio, Rachel. “Waiting for It”. The New York Times Sunday Book Review. February 3, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/03/books/review/Donadio-t.html.
2. BBC online. “E-book sales grew by 54% in 2011”. BBC News Entertainment & Arts. May 1, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17905387.