Should You Self-Publish Your Book?
Weighing the Benefits of Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
If you are determining the right strategy for getting your book published, you are beginning what can be a long, rewarding, and meaningful process. A decade ago, an author’s choice would have been simple: either send a query letter to a publishing house, or find an agent who will represent or pitch your manuscript on your behalf.
However, the publishing landscape has changed dramatically. Most likely, you have heard about self-publishing—when the author publishes a book himself or herself. There are numerous benefits to self-publishing: no revenue sharing with an agent; no working through a conduit; no repeat anxiety-ridden calls to the agent asking if your manuscript got picked up; no dealing with rejection letters.
But is self-publishing really that great?
As with most things, it depends. Whether or not self-publishing is the way to go hinges largely on an author’s preferences, ability, and resources. Clearly, self-publishing is the right choice for thousands of authors. Consider these statistics: New Publisher House predicts that self-publishing could reach $52 Billion—or twice the size of book publishing in the US—with self-publish authors projected to capture 50% of the e-book market by 2020. With such significant trajectory, self-publishing is certainly worth considering.
But is self-publishing the right choice for you? Take this quiz to find out.
How many of these statements are accurate?
• I like to be in control
• I like to keep as much of my profit as possible
• I am prepared to make upfront investments without guarantee of success
• I am prepared to commit 20 hours per week, every week for 2 years working on my book
If you answered YES to all of these, you are ready to self-publish. If you’re still not sure, consider the benefits of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.
Benefits of self-publishing:
1. Control: Yes, you are in control of all process and decisions for your book. From final edit, cover and illustration design, layout, color scheme to printing, distribution, sales, and marketing. While this is empowering, it’s also time and effort intensive.
2. Money: You get to keep all the proceeds of your book. This can be significant if your book is well received, but at the same time, your profits could be miniscule, especially knowing that an average book sells fewer than 250 copies. You will also need to cover all the expenses associated with publishing your book. If you decide to publish your book with quality, this upfront investment can add up to tens of thousands of dollars.
3. Completion: Since you are driving the process, you will get published on your own terms. You don’t depend on anyone to determine if your work is worthy of publishing and when.
Benefits of traditional publishing:
1. Resources: Your publisher will bring a team of experts to ensure your book is properly edited, illustrated, laid out, converted into an e-book on every e-book platform, has an ISBN and a bar code, will research and set the sales price, use its print and distribution channels, and take on sales and promotional activities on your behalf. This is a huge advantage, not only in terms of upfront investment made on your behalf but in terms of bringing quality, experienced resources to work on your manuscript.
2. Money: While the cost of bringing your manuscript to market is covered by your publisher, your compensation will likely consist of royalties and possibly an advance. Royalties range from 7.5% to 15% on average, post printing and production costs.
3. Reach: Traditional publishing houses have established distribution, sales and marketing channels, and will use those to promote your book to reach wide audiences. While wide publicity is in your joint best interests, as any business, your publisher will have to prioritize your book against other projects.
Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer, but thoughtful, well-informed consideration of both options is key to getting successfully published. Good luck in the journey!
Born in Yugoslavia in the 1970s, Marija Bulatovic, along with her parents, immigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s just ahead of the 1990s Yugoslav wars and the breakup of the country. An accomplished business professional with years of experience driving enterprise business with Fortune 500 companies, Bulatovic graduated from Colgate University. Marija Bulatovic lives in Seattle with her husband and son.