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The disadvantages of self-publishing

Updated on December 21, 2015


Unfortunately, a few drawbacks exist when committing yourself to this type of publishing venture. These drawbacks include large time and cost considerations, specific distribution issues and finding professionals to help you produce the best possible book.

The time and costs involved

Self-published authors also have to invest the necessary time needed to edit, layout and design, print, market, advertise, promote, sell and distribute their book. Each step is vitally important in the success of the book and each requires considerable amount of time and commitment. If you are not prepared to invest the time necessary to promote and sell it, nobody will be exposed to it and sales will be naturally minimal. However, the more time and energy you invest in marketing, advertising, promotions and sales the more potential for profits the book will yield.

Furthermore, all the costs associated with the publishing process become your responsibility. The goal should be to invest money in marketing and advertising that generates higher sales for your book and results in higher profits. Your investment should essentially offer a high return.

Self-publisher authors should develop a plan to handle each major task or responsibility as both the author and the publisher. If you are not equipped to handle even one aspect and you don’t have the financial resources to hire experienced professionals to assist you or your potential for achieving success can diminish drastically.


Managing your distribution channels

A self-published and a book published by a major publisher follows the same basic format, including overall layout and design, front and back cover, how the title, price, barcode and other information is conveyed and the publishing materials used, such as the cover and the internal paper stock.

The difference between the two is the resources available for distribution, marketing, advertising and promotion. Major publishers have fully-staffed and experienced people handling all these areas and have established distribution with the major bookstore chains. Self-publishers, however, may not have the resources at their disposal but may have a book listed with or Barnes & Noble. Getting traditional bookstore distribution, especially from a first-time author is extremely difficult and often almost impossible through major bookstores. These chain stores have buyers who deal with the major publishing houses and self-publishers usually do not work with established distributors or sales representatives who get their books into mainstream distribution.

Self-publishers should therefore include alternate distribution options. These would include online sales, direct mail and direct selling through your clients and people who attend your lectures or author appearances.

Finding professionals to help you

To maximize your success in creating, publishing, distributing and selling your book you should consider hiring experienced professionals in the book publishing industry.

Your printing company may offer a variety of services to you but consider hiring the following types of freelance professionals to help you with various aspects of the self-publishing process:

  • Ghostwriter
  • Photographer, illustrator, artist or graphic designer
  • Editor
  • Sales Representative
  • Public relations, advertising and marketing consultant
  • Web site designer

It would be a good idea to determine what your needs are before negotiating with any type of freelancer as most of them expect to be paid on a per-project basis or they may bill by the hour. Ensure that you hire people with experience doing whatever it is you need them to do.


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