Why Self Publish?

Woman thinking of moneyWhy would you want to self publish, and spend your time on tasks that a publisher would have done for you in the past? It’s a valid question.

Gone are the days of authors hiding themselves away in a garret and emerging in shabby shoes only for the occasional boozy lunch with their publisher’s editor … the days when it took a year or more from the date a book was accepted for publication, to the actual publication day … the days when authors spent weeks and months painfully making edits required by a publisher as a condition of publication.

Now, in the 21st century, we can self publish without the costs and limits of traditional “vanity publishing”. Ebooks have revolutionized the self publishing market – and for some authors, this means they are making millions of dollars selling hundreds of thousands of books without getting a single rejection letter, because they are simply doing it themselves.

If you enjoy writing, if you can string a grammatical sentence together and keep a reader entertained, you could be the next. Whether you write non-fiction or fiction, self publishing is simple, almost effortless these days, and you don’t have any pesky editor to please. This means your books can be out there faster, more cheaply and making much more money for you.

Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

It’s true that there are advantages to having a traditional publisher, if you can get one. You won’t see ebooks in the window of your local bookstore, for example. But if your ebook is successful, a traditional publishing contract could follow – and with a proven successful book on your hands, you are in a position to negotiate  a much better deal.

typewriter-redTraditional publishing can be a long and frustrating process. After writing and revising your manuscript, you had to send it to agents, hoping somebody would take you on as a client. You might wait weeks for each reply. Likely the first few replies would be refusals, so even for a book that was eventually accepted, 6 months might pass before you found the right agent. Then you might wait another year while the agent submitted it to all of the possible publishers, one by one.

Finally you might be offered a contract. After that was negotiated and signed, the editing process would begin. Keep in mind you might already have made changes suggested by your agent – and now you have to make a lot more. Then the publisher (not you) commissions and chooses the cover design. Depending on your contract, you might be able to say no if you hate it, or you might not. Finally, publication date comes around. By that time, it’s been so long that you’re probably thoroughly sick of the book and find it hard to act excited when the publishers roll out publicity interviews for you.

Self Publishing Is Fast

By contrast, with self publishing you can launch your finished book onto the greedy reading public as soon as you want. It’s best to have some input from readers, but you can find beta readers on a book-related website like Goodreads who will happily give you feedback for free, just for the pleasure of reading your book. They will tell you (often painfully frankly) if your book is well plotted or if it’s full of holes, whether they fell in love with the leading man, et cetera.

If your grammar is shaky and you always came last in your middle school spelling bee, you might want to hire a proofreader to check that aspect – because if there’s one thing readers hate about self published books it’s the errors, and you don’t want a simple technical issue like that dragging down the points on your reviews.

So it’s not quite a case of writing “The End” and hitting “Publish”, but it’s not far from it!

Higher Royalties

Royalties are the payment that the author gets from the publication of a book or other artistic work (e.g. music). Traditional publishers pay only around 5% royalties to a new author, and you may lose 10% of that to your agent before you even see it. With self publishing, the sky is the limit.

Depending on the platform you choose to self publish on, you can earn anything from 40% to 100% of the sale price of your books. Obviously, if you want 100% of the profits, you will have to do all of the work yourself, and sell from your own website – which does have some costs. Your reach will be higher, and your cut proportionately smaller, if you use one of the big self-publishing platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords.

Want to know more? Stay tuned. In our next post we’ll look at publishing on Amazon Kindle.


  1. It’s true traditional publishers take forever to get a book out. If your book is at all topical, or you just need money coming in soon, it can be good to publish it yourself.

    1. You do get benefits for going with a publisher, however. You will get the services a good (hopefully) editor for free. Same with a cover designer. And they will market and distribute the book. Bookstores are much likelier to stock it than a self-published book.

  2. THere is a lot of money to be made on Amazon
    If you can write stories you should not be wasting time doing anything else

    1. 30 pages is acceptable for a “kindle short read”. Many readers like to have something they can finish on one commute. Just be sure not to charge as much as you would for a full length novel.

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