The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing a Book

Self-Published Books: Perspective from Smith Publicity

Sometimes it is difficult for self-published authors to sell books. We give some helpful book marketing tips to self-published authors. Many authors today are weighing the pros and cons of self-publishing a book. At Smith Publicity, we work with traditional publishers and self-published authors, so we’re in a unique position to view both sides. There is no doubt that book publishing has seen many changes during the past ten years. There has been a surge in self-publishing or independent publishing, and variations including hybrid and cooperative publishing. As a result, thousands of non-traditionally published books are released each year. 
At the same time, traditional publishers continue to struggle with outdated business models, advances paid to authors have decreased, and book promotion support from publishers has been reduced. An even more significant change is the blending of traditional with self-publishing. One example is Simon & Schuster’s Archway Publishing Division. The books it publishes are mostly its way of monetizing manuscripts rejected by S&S. Not long ago, predicting that a major, traditional publisher would embrace self-publishing would have been considered absurd.

The Pros of Self-Publishing a Book

• Timing – Self-published books move faster and can be more timely. Often, they can be printed and available for purchase online within months, sometimes weeks
• Control — The book you self-publish will be precisely what you want; no changes made by editors or cover designs forced upon you
• Rights — The majority of self-publishers allow you to retain all rights to your book
• Costs are Becoming More Accessible – You can have a professionally printed and designed book for as little as $1,000 in some cases
• Bundled Services — An independent publisher, if an author wants them to, can generally handle everything, from securing an ISBN to layout, printing, etc.
• Quality – If you do it right, a self-published book can be indistinguishable from a traditionally published book in terms of cover design, layout, and overall appearance 

The Cons of Self Publishing a Book

• Distribution — It can be challenging for a self-published book to get shelf space in book stores
• Quality — If you put too much trust in some self-publishers and allow them to handle cover design, back cover copy, etc., you may end up with an unprofessional looking book
• Cost — As mentioned above, prices are coming down, but there is an expense you incur as the author of a self-published book

Other Things to Think About

The stigma that all self-published books are low-class and inferior is also gone. Today, it’s about content and quality more than how a book was published. Also, a self-published book can benefit just as much from book marketing and publicity as a traditionally published title. However, some self-publishers are aggressive at upselling additional services. Many authors sign on for book marketing and book promotion services that can cost more than $10,000, and unqualified book publicists sometimes fulfill these services.

If you do decide to self-publish, shop around and do your homework. Don’t take the first offer you receive before hearing about any other options. Also, even if you love the topic of your book, be realistic before making final decisions. No matter what publishing method, only quality, interesting books do well in the marketplace.