Self-Publishing: The Pros and Cons

Posted April 04, 2021 by Joe K.
Self-publishing is a great way to get your work of literary genius out to the world without going through the traditional route with a publisher. 

Today, even highly successful authors are opting to self-publish to maintain greater control over their work and recoup more of their well-deserved royalties.

Self-publishing means that you, the author, hold complete control over the entire publishing process. You’re in charge of everything a publisher would typically have handled — from editing and proofreading to cover design and distribution. 

The Pros & Cons of Self-Publishing

As with most things, there are pros and cons associated with self-publishing. Understanding the landscape of self-publishing will help you determine the best way for you to get your book out into the world. 

Not ready to hand over royalties to a publishing house? Still, weighing your publishing options? Or maybe you’re simply curious about the benefits of the self-publishing route. Either way, let’s dive into the pros and cons of self-publishing.  

The Pros

More Creative Control

When you opt for self-publishing, you have the benefit of retaining complete creative control. 

If you want to change the book’s layout, cover design, or primary font, there is no haggling with a publisher to convince them why that’s the right move. 

Instead, you are empowered to hire any designer you’d like to create the cover, make final decisions on layout and design, and make changes as you’d please. If you know exactly what you want and enjoy having complete creative control over your projects, this will appeal to you. 

In contrast, when working with a publisher, your book will have input from editors, marketers, and designers. This means your opinion isn’t the final word on decisions for things like text and cover art. 

Higher Royalty Rates

When working with a publishing house, authors usually receive somewhere between 7% and 25% of royalties from book sales. The rest go to the publisher. 

However, when self-publishing on sites such as Amazon, you can expect closer to 70%

This means that you have the potential to make a significant amount of money by taking the self-publishing route, as long as you can anticipate a similar number of book sales. 

If you distribute through Amazon and certain other self-publishing sites, a bonus is that you’ll retain the rights for adaptations like films and TV shows. 

Less Waiting 

If you work with a publishing house, you can anticipate a much longer timeline to see your book hit the shelves. 

Self-publishing is markedly faster, in part because there’s much less red tape to work through. In theory, you could publish your finished book today if you wanted to. It takes less than 6 hours for an ebook to be uploaded to digital marketplaces, and print on demand services have your book available within 24 hours.

In comparison, going through a publishing house will generally take 6 to 18 months minimum. If you’re ready and anxious to see your book in the hands of your readers, self-publishing may be the more attractive option.  

Make a Name for Yourself

The truth is, it’s difficult to grab the attention of publishing houses. There are many authors out there, and if you haven’t yet established yourself in the industry, it can be tricky convincing publishers that you’re worth their time—even if you’ve got a great book in hand.

Alternatively, self-publishing empowers you to make a name for yourself. Taking the leap into self-publishing can help you build a readership, connect with other authors, and build your email list, all while adding something to your resume for future publishers. 

Many successful authors got their start in self-publishing. Ever heard of Beatrix Potter or Charles Dickens? 

And, you never know, producing an underground hit on your own may attract the attention of traditional book publishers in the future.

The Cons

Less Visibility 

While self-publishing has several key advantages, it also has some downsides. 

The first one? Lack of visibility. 

One of the biggest benefits of working with a publisher is using their platform to reach more shelves (and more readers). There’s also the perceived prestige that comes with being backed by a publishing house. 

This kind of visibility can be difficult to keep up with when self-publishing, especially if you haven’t yet built a dedicated readership or a name for yourself as an author. 

Higher Costs 

While most publishing houses cover the expenses of editing, design, printing, and marketing, you’ll have no such luck with self-publishing. 

Editing costs are usually between $. 07 and $. 12 per word, or $7.50 to $20 per page. The cost to design the cover is generally between $250 and $500. While printing will depend on the number of pages and book size, it can range anywhere from 50 cents to upwards of $2 per book. 

And the average cost to market a book? Most authors spend between $50-$200 on their marketing campaigns. And while self-publishing, you also won’t have the option of receiving a book deal or advance to offset these costs. 

Fewer Resources

What you gain in creative control with self-publishing, you lose in resources. Traditional publishers come equipped with all of the staff, tools, and networking abilities to support your book along the entire publishing journey.

These resources include editors, publicists, marketing strategists, and designers. When you work with a publisher, you can expect support from start to finish—whereas, with self-publishing, you’ll be left to your own devices. 

Distribution Is More Challenging

Publishers have distribution down to an art—it’s what they do. They have deals with bookstores, the leverage to negotiate, and the network to make your book a sensation if possible. 

As a self-published author, it can be difficult to get onto the shelves of major bookstores. If you dream of seeing your book in the window at Barnes & Noble, make sure to calibrate your expectations accordingly if you self-publish.  

Is Self-Publishing Right For Me?

Whether you decide to self-publish or approach a traditional publishing house for a possible book deal, there is no right or wrong way to get your book out to the world. 

Both methods of publishing come with their pros and cons, and having an idea of what you’re looking for in the publishing process (and what you can live without) will give you a better idea of which route is right for you. 

Once you’ve decided which publishing option makes more sense for your book, what’s next? It’s time to build your online presence as an author, of course. 

With Author Builder, you can create an engaging website to support your brand, grow your email list, sell your books, and more—all in one simple-to-use platform.

Interested in seeing how Author Builder can help you grow your brand? Get started below. 

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