Self-Publishing has its Plusses But…

by Erin Entrada Kelly

You’re a writer at the right time. Your world is rich with options, and you’re standing at the gate, deciding which path to take. Should you self-publish? Try for an agent and go traditional? Submit to a small, indie press? The publishing industry has changed, and so have your choices. No segment of the industry has matured and evolved more than self-publishing.

There was a time when self-publishing came with a thorny stigma, but today there are self-published New York Times bestsellers—both fiction and non-fiction—who have successfully walked the road. But there’s also an ocean of unknown authors who only managed to sell books to a small stable of family and friends before their numbers dwindled.

If you’ve got a book and you’re thinking of publishing it yourself, sit back and let’s peek at the road ahead.

  • Big Plus: You keep the money. You can release your book however you see fit and then reap the financial rewards. There’s no agent taking 15 percent. There’s no publishing contract that limits your royalties. It’s all on you.
  • But: It’s all on you. To successfully sell books, you have to master the art of self-promotion or invest in the services of a professional book publicity agency. You have to understand book marketing and meaningful publicity. Yes, you get to keep all your royalties if you do it yourself. But that doesn’t mean much if you haven’t sold any books.
  • Big Plus: You have more control. When you sign with a publisher, you give them a chunk of creative control. They hire the cover designer, they make edits, they suggest revisions. They may ask you to cut chapter 17 or kill your favorite character—things you don’t want to do. So if you want more control over your words and design, self-publishing could make for a warm, cozy blanket.
  • But: You have to make sure your words and design are on-point. An editor is a must. So is finding the right professional designer. It’s worth it. A well-crafted book with a well-designed cover sells more books than an error-riddled manuscript with a hand-drawn title. Trust us.
  • Big Plus: You write on your time. There’s no one breathing down your neck, waiting for your draft. You set your own release date. If you want to release 10 books in a year, you can. You only have to answer to yourself.
  • But: You write on your dime. You don’t get the luxury of an advance or any guaranteed payment.

Ultimately, how you decide to publish your book is up to you. You have to ask yourself: What do I want to accomplish? How much time can I commit to writing and promoting my book? How does my book compare to what’s already out there? What’s most important to me throughout this process?

Only you know the answers. Fortunately, there are many avenues you can take once you figure it out.

Erin Entrada Kelly is a Book Publicist for Smith Publicity and also handles New Services Development for the company.