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Is it a Good Idea to Self Publish?

Updated on June 13, 2018
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Cindy has been a writer for a number of years. She enjoys sharing her life experiences and what they have taught her.

Self Publishing
Self Publishing | Source

The question is, should you or would you ever self publish? I am guessing this question stems from the fact self publishing used to be thought of as 'vanity publishing', and that if someone wasn't a very good writer and could not get a publisher to accept their books they refused to accept this, and went off and paid to publish their books themselves. People who knew the author had 'self published' would then assume that the content of the resulting books was likely to be inferior in quality and not worth reading. Whilst this was probably true in many cases, I do believe that things have changed in recent years, especially with the arrival of ebooks that cost nothing to publish and allow authors to cut out the middleman who would take so much of their profits. Many book publishers won't even look at a manuscript now unless it comes from a formerly published author with a proven track record. This leaves a huge amount of potentially excellent writers unpublished if they don't choose to publish their own books, (either as ebooks or as printed copies.)

My Stepfather now has three books published, the first two of which were originally accepted by a publisher legitimately. The problem was that the publisher was taking such a huge percentage of the profits from each book that my Step Father was only making about £1 a copy for himself. For this reason when he wrote his third book he chose to publish it as an eBook, (with a fair bit of formatting help from fellow Hubber Sandy Spider.) I then went on to set up the same book with Createspace as a print on demand copy so that he could sell it in hard copy form as well, (therefore maximising his profiting potential.)

eBook | Source

The Advantages of Self Publishing

Self publishing has some great advantages over going through a recognised publisher. Just a few to consider include:

  • Better profit margins for the author.
  • No need to submit your manuscript to numerous publishers until one eventually accepts your book.
  • No need to make endless edits to the manuscript in order to comply with the publisher's demands.
  • You can make sure your book is promoted effectively (my Step Dad's publishers were pretty useless in this respect.)

The Disadvantages of Self Publishing

Naturally there are bound to be a few disadvantages to self publishing too, and these include the following:

  • It might cost you quite a bit of money in order to have a really impressive book cover designed.
  • It may cost you some money to get help if you are publishing it as an eBook and are struggling with the formatting process.
  • You will still encounter people who see it as 'vanity publishing' and don't take your published book seriously.
  • You will be responsible for promoting your own book as no-one is going to do it for you unless you pay them.
  • You won't have access to a professional publisher's proof readers who can point out obvious mistakes like punctuation, grammar, spelling etc.

An open book
An open book | Source

Things to Remember When Self Publishing

Self publishing is very rewarding, and my Step Dad is already seeing results. Other people I know such as Shadesbreath (John Daulton) here on Hubpages has recently self published and is doing ever so well with his Science Fiction novel 'The Galactic Mage'. Last time I heard an update he was in the top ten Science Fiction books on Amazon.

Just a few important things to remember if you choose to self publish:

  • Writing the book is only the beginning, you need to then proofread it yourself at least twice, and then get at least two other people to proof read it as well. We often don't see the mistakes we have made ourselves because our brain instructs us to see what we expect to see, even if that isn't what is actually on the page.
  • Spend whatever is necessary to ensure you have an eyecatching cover because this can be the difference between making a few sales or making a few thousand sales.
  • Don't just publish it and forget about it, spend time promoting it online and in your local book shops (latter if you have published an 'in print' version.) Organise a book signing at your local book store and get your local newspaper to attend.
  • Don't overprice your book. Remember right now no-one has ever heard of you, so why should they take a risk on spending money for a book they might hate? After your second or third book has proven to be a success you might be in a better position to put up your prices.
  • If you have both a printed version and an eBook available, ensure the price difference reflects the fact it costs you money to print a book, but nothing for a download. This might mean selling a hard copy of the book at $14 but the eBook download at $5 in order to ensure the buyer does not feel like they have been overcharged.

I hope this has helped you to make the decision as to whether or not you should self publish. Personally I would strongly recommend you do, (assuming you are confident your writing is of good quality.) To actually see your book for sale on Amazon, or even in your local book store, is a feeling money can't buy. My Step Dad (James Cassaday) is over the moon with seeing the results of my efforts (and Sandy Spider's), and I know he would be the first to recommend self publishing.

Self-Publishing vs. Getting a real publisher

Have you ever self published?

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Do you believe it is okay to self publish or is it vanity publishing?

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© 2012 Cindy Lawson


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