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Silver Spring, MD
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Stories To Tell is a full service book publishing company for independent authors. We provide editing, design, publishing, and marketing of fiction and non-fiction. We specialize in sophisticated, unique illustrated book design.

Stories To Tell Books BLOG

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing Your Book

Biff Barnes

You should self-publish your book!

We said so in our first post of this year, Publishing a Book in 2013? Self-Publish It! But we think you should do it knowing what your will be getting into. What are your options and why should you choose self-publishing?

Courtesy of StockMonkeys under Creative CommonsIn our last post we explored The Advantages and Disadvantages of Traditional Publishing. Today, we’ll do the same thing with self-publishing. Then, on Tuesday in the final post of the series, we’ll discuss the best ways to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the pitfalls self-publishing presents for authors.

The Advantages of Self-Publishing

  • Easy access to publication – The traditional gatekeepers, literary agents and acquisitions editors at publishing houses have been eliminated. Anyone can publish a book.
  • Speed to Market –Traditional publishers take nine months to a year or more to get a book to market and won’t release an ebook before the print version. A self-publisher using a print on demand publisher can get a book into the market in two weeks or less. An ebook can be ready for sale in a couple of days.
  • Financial Potential – Guy Kawasaki in his book APE: How to Publish a Book explains, “Traditional publishers pay authors 10 to 15 percent of proceeds of the sales of a book to distributors. Amazon, by contrast, pays a 35 percent or 70 percent royalty. Apple pays 70 percent, and Barnes & Noble pays 65 percent. Self-publishing also enables authors to sell directly to customers—reaping the profits that distributors and retailers would have gotten.” The author can also set the price of his self-published book.
  • Complete Control – The author makes all of the editorial decisions and design choices about his book. You decide on the length of your book and what the cover and interior should look like.
  • The Long Tail – Traditional publishers offer authors a brief marketing window of a month or two.  If sales are good promotion continues, but marketing efforts are discontinued when sales drop off. A self-publishing author can continue to promote his book allowing the buzz to build over time. Internet marketing also allows authors to target particular niche audiences to capitalize on the sales potential described by Wired editor Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail.

The Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

  • Responsibility for Producing a Professional Quality Book – With a traditional publisher the author sold the rights and the publishing house tool responsibility for making sure that the book was thoroughly edited, its interior was well laid out and a high quality cover made a great impression on potential readers. One of the reasons there has been a stigma attached to self-published books is that authors failed to make sure that their self-published-book maintained the same quality of production.
  • Upfront Costs – Not only does the self-publishing author receive no advance payment, he pays all of the costs of bringing a book to market. That may involve hiring editors, book designers and publicists as well as the costs of printing the books. The author must place a substantial bet on the possibility that his book will cover costs and return a profit on his investment. If there is no return on that investment, the author has only himself to blame.
  • Responsibility for Promotion and Marketing and Distribution – It’s almost impossible to find a traditionally published author who believes his publisher has done enough to promote and market his book. With self-publishing he gets a chance to do a better job himself. But to do it the author must learn about access to distribution channels, how to set prices, and what kind of promotional and public relations tools will attract buyers. The author must take over the business of selling books. That can be a big learning curve, or if you choose to hire someone else to do it, it can be a big expense.
  • Learning to Work with Service Providers- Producing a book takes professional expertise. The author may be able to do some of what is needed himself, but he’ll need to find someone to help with other parts of the process. That means learning how to find, vet and collaborate with editors, book designers, printers, book distributors, website designers, and book promoters or marketers.

So, as you consider whether to self-publish your book you have to weigh two key words: potential and responsibility. Self-publishing offers authors the opportunity to get their books into the marketplace with the potential to find an audience which can potentially result in a greater percentage of the financial rewards than was available to most authors with traditional publishing deals. However, the author who chooses to self-publish is choosing to play a completely different role than one working with a traditional publisher. He is launching a business. In doing so he takes on a lot of responsibility that traditional authors didn’t have to worry about.

In our next post, the final one in this series, we’ll look at this new role for authors and why we think you should embrace it.