Self-Publishing Pros and Cons

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  Today we're going to talk about self-publishing. I've heard a lot of things about self-publishing: "Self-publishing is for bad writers.", "You'll never get anywhere with self-publishing.", "Self-publishers aren't real authors.", and other stuff like that. Well, guess what? Self-publishing isn't just for bad writers, you can get somewhere with self-publishing, and self-published authors are real authors. Despite popular belief, there's a lot of work that goes into self-publishing your work. You have to find an editor, you have to find a cover designer, and you have to market the book yourself. You have to do just about everything yourself. But you know what? I actually like self-publishing. I'd rather self-publish than try to go through a traditional publisher. Here are some of the pros and cons for self-publishing.

 

Pros:

Creative Control: I have to be in control. And when you go through a publishing house, you usually don't get to pick out the cover. In fact, you sometimes don't even get to pick the name of your book! Um, no. That's not going to work for me. I'm very particular, and I have to have things done my way. I love picking out the title of my writings. I have fun with it. And I love coming up with cover ideas! I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't at least come up with a mock-up. So, yeah. I need that creative control.

Can publish at any time: When you self-publish, you can publish your book at any time. You can publish immediately after getting your proof (which I wouldn't recommend), or you can publish it six months later. And if you want to change the release date, you can. I made the mistake of releasing Kill the DJ the same day I got my proofs, without any marketing. Well, for my next book, I'm going to do a few months of marketing before releasing it.

No deadlines: I read about deadlines from so many authors on Twitter. I don't do deadlines. There's so much pressure, and with all my health problems, I don't think writing would be fun for me. Deadlines would just suck all the fun out of it. 

No word count: I also don't do word counts. There's supposed to be certain word counts for certain genres. For example, the typical novel is forty thousand words. Most publishers won't consider a book under forty thousand words, and a lot of them want a book even longer than that. Kill the DJ came in at around thirty-five thousand words, and I feel like the story just couldn't be any longer than that. I had told all there was to tell with that story. My next book seems like it's going to end at around twenty-two thousand words. If I was going through a traditional publisher, my books would not be published. But with self-publishing, my books can be as long (or short) as I want them to be.

Big royalties: When you're a traditionally published author, you sometimes get a royalty as small as ten percent. I mean, sure, you might sell a lot of books, but I can't imagine working my ass off on something like a book, not getting to choose the title or cover, and then only seeing ten percent of the money that book makes. I don't think that that's ok. When I sell my book through Create Space and KDP, I get seventy percent of the money that the book makes. I'm looking into Draft2Digital to expand my book distribution, and they give you nintey percent (I believe, their answer on that is kind of confusing). However, you have to remember that whatever channel you sell your book through, such as Kobo, Apple, Overdrive, and whatever else also takes a percentage of your earnings. I haven't started selling with Draft2Digital yet, since I'm waiting for my Kindle Unlimited "contract" to end, so I'll update you guys on how I like Draft2Digital in a few months. I'm getting way off track here, though. My point is, with self-publishing, you get a WAY bigger royalty.

Check every month: With most self-publishing companies, you get paid every month. With KDP, you get paid sixty days after a sale. Sixty days, I don't really like. And your payments are all over the place. If you sell one book on a Monday, four on a Wednesday that same week, and two on a Thursday, but don't sell any on Tuesday or Friday, then two months later you'll get three small royalty payments that week. One on Monday, one on Wednesday, and one on Thursday. This is instead of one big one at the beginning of the month. I don't really get the purpose of this, but whatever. It's still better than only getting a payment once every six months. Seriously. That's how often you get paid when you're traditionally published. If you think budgeting is hard when you only get your paycheck every other week, try only getting your paycheck twice a year. I'll pass.

 

Cons:

No publicity: You know how whenever a big author has a new book coming out, they have all these posters and other cool promotional items? They have all these interviews and every book blogger or reading and writing magazine is talking about their new book. And if you're someone like Stephen King, People Magazine might even talk about your new book. Sounds awesome, right? Well, self-published authors don't get that stuff. And, sorry to crush your dreams, but your book probably won't be turned into a movie or tv show either. Why? We simply don't get the same publicity that traditionally published authors get. We have to go out and do everything ourselves. So maybe it isn't fair to say that we don't get posters and interviews and things like that. We can, but we have to pay for the posters (and most other forms of advertisment) ourselves, and we have to work harder to get interviews. Marketing is hard work, and we have to do it all ourselves, which leads me to my next point.

Full-time job: Being a self-published author is a full-time job. And we have to play many roles when we are self-published. Not only are we the author, we're also the marketing team, we're the publicists, we're the customer service people, we're the everything. And what I mean by "we're the everything", is that we have to do everything. When you're self-published, you have people to do most things for you. You usually just have to write the story, and when the time comes, edit it and do a little marketing. But not self-published authors. Once we're finished writing our book, we have to edit it, get an editor, get a cover designer, format the book, market it, and upload it to the websites you want to sell it on. None of these tasks are particularly hard (except marketing) once you do it once or twice. But as a new author, it can be very overwhelming. 

  So, those are my pros and cons of self-publishing. I feel like it's harder work, but I like self-publishing. I don't think I'll ever try traditional publishing, but you never know. If traditional publishing houses change their ways, I might give it a shot. But I actually enjoy everything that comes with self-publishing, and I don't see any reason to ditch it. So for now, I'll be keeping all creative control, and most of the royalties, of my books.