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Is self publishing a good option for writers?

Between Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble, self publishing your book has never been easier.

Gone are the days when you had to buy boxes upon boxes of your own books in hopes that you could sell them to readers one by one. Today, self-publishing is as easy as uploading a file to one or all of these companies.

But is it for you?

Despite its ease-of-use, self-publishing brings with it a number of advantages and disadvantages. What might be a great fit for one author might not be a good fit for another.

This is the case with many authors whose self published books hit it big. They found that managing their self publishing business was not what they wanted to be doing. So, once they built an audience through self-publishing, they then went to traditional publishers to strike up deals.

Often, these are lucrative deals but less money than what they would be making if they continued self-publishing. These authors will simply state that they want to write their books and do nothing more. They are tired of managing the business, and so they get out.

This may or may not be you. Today, let’s talk about questions that you need to ask yourself if you want to consider whether or not you should self publish your book.

There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. These are just things that you need to consider seriously if you decide you want to be an author.

How important is the money?

This is often the first thing that many people will ask themselves when considering self-publishing.

That’s because the royalty rates are one of the clearest advantages that self-publishing has over traditional publishing. Depending on the store that you published in, your royalty rate can be as high as 70%.

If you traditionally published, your royalty rate could be 10% or even less.

So obviously, self-publishing gives you a bigger cut of the pie. For some authors, this is enough to self publish. After all, if you are doing all the work of writing the book, why should the company that publishes it get more of the money than you? It’s your book!

Again, this attitude is not wrong. Some writers want that bigger cut, and that is their sole reason for self-publishing. It is something that you want to consider.

On the flip side of that, your book may sell a lot less because it will have less exposure when you self-publish. If you can get a traditionally published book to the market, you might have a better chance of more exposure and much greater sales. So in the end, your smaller cut of the pie is actually larger than if you were to get a bigger cut of less sales.

Are you confused yet? It’s not as easy as saying “I’m going to make more money self-publishing.” You have to consider every angle of the finances.

What kind of book do you want to write?

If you’ve ever tried to submit a book proposal, then you know that the kind of book that you want to write is a big factor into whether or not a publishing house will take on your project.

The fact is, industries change. What companies are looking for are books that have a high  chance of success. That means that they are looking at markets and determining what readers are gravitating to at any given point in time.

This of course, leads to gatekeepers. You have to convince a publishing house to take on your book project. That means that you are not free to just write about whatever you want. You have to consider what will sell, and you have to write a book geared to that.

Some authors don’t have a problem with this. But you might. And even if you can write in the genre that you really would like to write for, you may have to make changes to your book that you disagree with. But those changes are necessary if you want the publisher to bring your book to market.

This is another case where self-publishing has an advantage, to a degree. If you care more about writing exactly what you want and how you want to write it, self-publishing is for you. You have complete control over the book, what you include in the book, and how that book’s final product eventually turns out.

If you like control, self-publishing is the right call.

How good are you at marketing? Or can you learn?

When you take on the control of self-publishing, that means you’re taking on every step of the process. And perhaps no step of the process is more important than marketing.

Why? Because if you can’t market your book effectively, you won’t get any sales. It’s a simple fact.

Every part of your book contributes to your marketing campaigns. That means that your book’s description needs to be just right. It means your book’s title needs to be attractive. It means that your book cover needs to captivate the eye. All of these are things that you have control over. You make the decisions, and so whatever decisions you make could make or break your book’s potential for success.

And that doesn’t even take into account the advertising. How you promote the book is a major component of your success or failure. Perhaps you want to get involved with other reading groups where you can organically build your audience. Or you want to look into paid advertising. Or joint promotions with other authors.

You are free to make all of these decisions yourself, and that can be a good thing. You can invest your time and money into any promotional tactic that you want. Some authors find this fun. Others find it to be more trouble than it’s worth. They would much rather focus on writing the best books that they can, and leave the marketing to the expert.

When you traditionally publish, that’s the situation you can put yourself into. Your job is to write the book. The publisher will do the rest. They will come up with the title, the cover design, and the entire marketing campaign.

This is why they wind up taking a larger portion of your royalties. They are assuming all of the financial risk of publishing your book. That means it’s on them to take whatever product you produce and actually bring it to market in a way that connects with readers. What you make up in time, you give up in royalties.

Do you want to write in a series?

One of the most effective ways to increase your chances of success in self-publishing is by writing in a series. Readers online today are looking for authors that they can invest their time into. They want to read a book, and then be able to move to the next book and continue the story.

This might not be an option for you if you traditionally publish. If your first book doesn’t sell very well, the publishing house is probably not going to invest any more time or money into promoting another book of yours. But if you are self publishing, it’s different.

By self-publishing, you can take a much longer-term view of your publishing career. Your success or failure may not depend on the sales of your very first book. You can create a series of books, and build up your library over time. Along with that, your audience builds over time as well.

With self-publishing, you can have the patience to let your career develop. When you traditionally publish, you likely have one chance to make a good impression before a publisher decides to stick with you or not.

As you can see, there are a lot of different factors in play when you are considering self-publishing. There is no wrong answer. It all comes down to personal preference on your end.

Just know what you’re getting yourself into. If you decide that you want more control over your product, then you likely want to self publish your books. Just know that you are assuming more of the other responsibilities that come with publishing and promoting a book.

If you’d rather shirk those responsibilities and let someone else deal with them, keep trying to get traditionally published. But then, understand that the trade-off is control over your work. You may have to make changes that you don’t agree with, or you may find yourself writing work that you don’t like simply because the publisher wants you to.

The choice is yours.