Should You Self Publish Your Book?

should you self publish your book vs traditional publisher

Publishing a book is a great way to circulate your name to the masses. Seeing your name on the cover of your book can provide a great sense of accomplishment and lends an air of legitimacy to your background. Whether you’re an entrepreneur that wants to write a book about startup culture, a marketing guru with a nonfiction book about digital marketing techniques or a fiction writer with an engaging story to tell, self-publishing can help you achieve your goals. 

However, there’s much more to self-printing than you might think. Knowing whether to self publish or go the traditional publishing route is a particularly challenging question to answer for newbie authors. Understanding the pros and cons and risks and rewards can help you go in the right direction with your manuscript. Here’s what you need to know: 

What Is The Traditional Publishing Journey? 

To make a decision over whether to self-publish, it helps to understand what the traditional publishing path consists of. Traditionally, the first step you take is to pitch literary agents. Literary agents act as the gateway between the writer and traditional publishing houses like Penguin, HarperCollins, or Scholastic. 

After you find the right agent, it’s a waiting game as your agent shops your manuscript around. It can take several months to find a publisher and build contracts, if it happens at all—working with an agent is no guarantee of publication. However, once you’ve weathered the storm, there are some pros. For example, the publisher handles getting your book into bookstores, marketing your book, and much more. 

Advances vary, any first-time writer can expect around $10,000—royalties that must be paid back as the book earns money. However, once the book starts selling, the author only receives 8% of the royalties per book sold. After the book has generated a certain amount of revenue, that commission goes up by 2-3%. 

Complete Creative Control 

One of the biggest benefits of self-publishing is that it offers writers a high degree of creative control. Traditional publishing houses often call the shots. They have major input in the direction of your book, its content, and how it’s presented to the public. For many writers, this level of creative control is wonderful—particularly when they have elements of a book that they don't want to sacrifice in the name of trends or editorial opinions. 

Self Publishing Is Fast And Cheap 

Thanks to modern technology, you can have your book published for reasonable prices at very quick speeds. You can have your book cover designed for relatively cheap on a platform like Upwork or Fiverr. 

Finding a good self printing company is much easier than it was twenty years ago. For example, if you were in Florida, you might work with a local commercial printing company in Miami ( Working with a local business might give you the opportunity to meet your printing company in person, and you’ll be contributing to the local economy. However, there are also other companies that focus entirely on self-publishing. 

Get Your Royalties 

Self publishing royalties are exponentially better than the royalties offered by traditional publishing. For example, depending on the type of packages you choose, if you work with a self publishing mill, you could earn 70-100% of your royalties. If you self-publish through a company like Amazon, expect the royalties to be on the lower end of the spectrum, compared to working directly with a print company, where 100% of the royalties are yours. 

Consider Trying Traditional Publishing First 

Unless you are unwilling to compromise with the cons of traditional publishing, you should attempt to go this route first. Because you don’t pay for traditional publishing, there’s nothing to lose. If you don’t find an agent or publisher to work with you, you can always try your hand at self-publishing afterward. On the other hand, if you’re committed to self-publishing, understand that you can make it work with hard work and dedication. Take a look at some of the best self-published works to give yourself some inspiration from authors who worked diligently to make their self-publishing goals happen.

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