If you’re considering writing a book now, you have more publishing alternatives than at any other time in history. Among the many options, you can go the traditional route and submit your manuscript to an agent who will work to get you a book deal with a publishing house, or you can do everything on your own. This latter choice has advantages and disadvantages worth exploring, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of self-publishing an ebook.
What Exactly is Self Publishing?
Self-publishing is the act of conducting all of the aspects of producing and marketing an ebook on your own. This means you’ll come up with the topic, research it, compose your findings into a readily accessible format, edit it, proofread it, format it for distribution, decide where it will be sold, upload it to those venues, produce synopses and extracts for marketing purposes, actively promote it and conduct the actual sales (unless you go with a third party like Amazon, the iBook Store, BN.com, or another retailer).
Pros of Self-Publishing
- The Potential Income is Greater: One look at all of the tasks involved should tell you how costly it can be if you use a publishing house. A person (or a group of people) who must be compensated will perform each of them. The more people you pay, the less money you get to keep for yourself. You will typically realize approximately 15 percent of the total revenues from the book when you go the traditional route. On your own, you’ll keep from 70 to 100 percent of the sale price.
- You Have Complete Control: If you have a unique vision it might be difficult to get an agent or a publishing house to think outside of the realm of normality to get it. When you self publish, you’re free to experiment in any way you see fit, without someone looking over your shoulder and pressuring you to take a particular tack. You also get to choose your own editor, proofreader, designer and the like. The resulting book can be 100 percent a product of your vision.
- You Can Get it Out Faster: When you work with a publishing house, you’ll get locked into a release schedule, predicated upon how they’ve allocated their resources. Yours will be one of but many books the organization is moving through its system and could well have to wait its turn. With self-publishing you bypass all of this and push it through at your own pace.
Cons of Self-Publishing
- You’ll Do it All: Along with complete control, comes the responsibility for doing things well—or knowing how to find people who can. Cover design, layout, editing, proofing, formatting, and all other aspects of producing and marketing the book fall upon your shoulders. Plus, you’ll have to come up with your own distribution strategy for getting it into ebooks online stores — or setting up your own. If you’re accomplished at this, you’ll probably do well. If you aren’t, it’s going to be a learning process.
- Overcoming Credibility Issues: Low barriers to entry can mean low quality too. And, while you absolutely abhor substandard work (we know you do) a lot of people who don’t know good from bad have the ability to publish just like you do. As a result, when shoppers see “self published”, many will say, “Oh boy, here we go…” This means you’re going to have to work harder to get your work to stand out from the mediocre.
- Investment Capital Comes From You: With a publishing house’s support, all (along with a nice advance for you) are borne by them. When you self publish, you’ll produce this cash and hope the book generates enough revenue to recoup your investment and render a profit.
When it comes to the pros and cons of self-publishing an ebook, you’ll have to decide which method works best for you and where you are in terms of your capabilities. Doing it on your own offers more control, but it also comes with more responsibility. Ultimately, you’ll have to ask yourself if you’re ready.