One of the good things that have come out of the pandemic is that people – me included – fell back in love with reading.
The time spent during quarantine gave each of us time to learn how to do things we didn’t have the time to do, like write that book we’ve been talking about.
Maybe it’s always been your dream to become an author. Maybe you are just writing a memoir about your life.
Whatever your reason for writing a book, there’s a choice that you’ll have to make when it comes to your book.
Do you want to publish it yourself or do you want to go the traditional route?
The Publishing Process
When you decide to publish a book, the process goes like this:
- Submit a proposal to a literary agent.
- Have your manuscript reviewed by the literary agent for approval.
- Negotiate with editors about your copyrights after getting approval.
- Proofread and copyedit your manuscript.
- Design your book cover.
- Format your book.
- Have your book printed.
- Market your book to the general public.
This is how the traditional publishing process goes.
With self-publishing, you will not have to find a literary agent. Instead of relying on traditional publishers for most of the process, you would be responsible for everything.
That’s right. Everything from proofreading to marketing your book will be up to you.
Just like everything else in life, there are good and bad things that come with self-publishing.
The Good Things About Self-Publishing
One of the greatest things about self-publishing is reaping all of the rewards.
When you go the traditional route, the publishing company you partner with will receive a portion of your royalties.
Because they figure they take on the majority of the publishing process, they should be entitled to a percentage of your royalties.
When you self-publish, you get to keep 100% of your royalties. You don’t have to worry about splitting your royalties with another person just because they formatted your book.
Full Creative Control
With self-publishing, you also get to remain in control of the creative process.
When you sign a contract with a traditional publishing company, they hold all the cards.
That means those little “suggestions” they make about your book must be included or your book won’t get published.
Because you’re in full control of the publishing process, you don’t have to worry about creative differences with other parties.
And your creativity doesn’t just apply to your manuscript.
You can also be creative in the way that you format and market your book.
You can look into audiobook deals and e-Book opportunities – options that traditional publishing companies don’t even think about.
Self-publishing your book opens you up to so many opportunities.
There is no linear route that you have to take with the publishing process. You also don’t have to wait for someone else’s approval or follow-up.
Because you are in control of the process, you determine how long the process will take.
You also can market to other platforms as a self-published author that would be closed off to you with traditional publishing.
You can collaborate with other authors, libraries, and social media influencers for your marketing.
You have the chance of developing your own audience before your book is even released.
The Bad Things About Self-Publishing
Of course, there are also some bad things that come with self-publishing.
One of the challenges is the cost that comes with self-publishing.
It’s true; you will have full ownership of the process. That includes footing the bill.
When a traditional publishing company approves your proposal, they offer you a monetary advance and other features like book deals.
As a self-published author, you have to be your own monetary advance and get your own book deals.
You will have to pay for editing services, book cover designs, and marketing needs.
Another issue with self-publishing is a reduced platform.
Traditional publishers have the network and connections that can put your book into thousands of bookstores.
As a self-published author, your reach is not as far.
In fact, if you want that kind of reach, it’s going to take so much effort on your part.
Some bookstores still have a hard time accepting books by self-published authors. If bookstores choose not to sell your book, it can be even harder to find a larger audience.
My Personal Take
Even though there are pros and cons that come with self-publishing, I would advise any up-and-coming author to give self-publishing a try.
One of the main reasons is because, you’re going to have to anyway!
Many authors start off with self-publishing at least their first book. It’s very rare that as a first-time author, you get an approved proposal right off the bat.
Another reason is because with self-publishing, you’ll get the full control that you want as an author.
I’m not an author (yet). But if there’s one thing I can’t stand in any kind of industry, it’s gatekeeping.
Even with so many changes in the publishing industry, you still have traditional publishers who are set in their ways and refuse to give self-published authors the respect that they deserve.
This goes from approving book proposals to even allowing self-publishers to market their books in bookstores.
Traditional publishers won’t even consider self-publishers for certain literary awards.
This is why self-publishing is the best thing that can happen to you as an author.
You don’t have to compromise with traditional publishers who aren’t flexible and want to keep playing old political games.
You can just put your all into the process and publish the best book that you can.
I’m not saying it won’t be hard, but anything that has worth and value is going to be hard. Is self-publishing going to be worth it? Absolutely.
If you’re interested in self-publishing your first book, you’re not alone! I’m also in the process of self-publishing my first book.
If you need two books that can give you some guidance on the process, these are the two books that are helping me:
- The Copyeditor’s Handbook, by Amy Einsohn and Marilyn Schwartz
- The Book Planner, by Elaine Kim.
Click the links below if you would like to purchase The Copyeditor’s Handbook:
Feel free to also share your thoughts about self-publishing in the comments below.