4 Reasons Why I Chose to Self-Publish My Books
This has got to be one of the most important decisions an aspiring author can make.
To self-publish or to not self-publish?
Choosing to self-publish is a huge decision to make. It’s a decision you need to make in consideration of the facts, your strengths, and your weaknesses. I have a confession to make. I’m not a huge fan of the words, self-publishing. They fail to describe the real experience of publishing. The words paint a picture of an author who is a lone wolf performing a DIY job.
A book isn’t created by one person. It’s created by a team of people. I prefer to use the term “indie publishing” or “independent publishing.” This term describes my attitude towards publishing outside of the traditional publishing world.
I’m a creative rebel, and I love to have a say in the other creative aspects of writing a book. To put it more bluntly, I’m a control freak. By now, you’re wondering why I chose to self-publish my books? Before I dive into my reasons, let’s discuss the biggest advantage tradition publishing gives it’s authors.
The Biggest Advantage to Traditionally Publishing!
There are a few advantages, to being a traditionally published author. The biggest advantage is, when a publisher chooses your story out of the millions of submissions, it’s almost like a pat on the back. It’s confirmation that your story is worth publishing. Yes, the good old writer ego boost.
Traditional publishing gives you a sense of credibility. The only people who will enquire about your publisher, are other traditionally published authors. This is because of how they view and understand the publishing world. Unfortunately, there is a type of snobbery that exists among authors.
Picture this scenario.
You’re at the London Book Fair with your published book, hoping to network with other authors. Your book is well edited and it has a great cover design. And, you’ve got 25 good and honest reviews on Amazon, and you’ve made it into the top 100 in your genre. Another author approaches you and asks, “so who’s your publisher?” And you reply, “I’m self-published.”
Cue awkward silence.
A reader will never ask you this question. They’re more interested in the genre and the story. Reading is a form of escapism or a tool for learning. People have become accustomed to buying from independent retailers like notonthehighstreet.com. They watch indie films and listen to indie music.
You get the picture.
Quality is Key
Choosing to self-publish doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality. Some self-published authors have made it difficult for readers to tell how they published their books. The lines between independent and traditional options have become blurred. Independent publishing is no longer synonymous with poor quality. Although, there are books on the various online stores that need improvement. Independent authors now have access to the same services and tools that traditional publishing houses use and can create better quality books.
There is no reason why you cannot be one of these authors.
Here are the four main reasons, why I chose to self-publish my books.
Reason #1 – A Higher Royalty Rate
It’s a known fact you can get a higher royalty rate through independent publishing. If you price an ebook over a certain amount on Amazon, you will receive a royalty of 70%. In the traditional publishing world, you receive an advance. This advance is usually in around $10,000 or maybe more. After the agreed amount of copies are sold, you will receive royalties. These royalties are between 10% and 15%.
Most traditional published authors do not sell enough books to start earning royalties.
The royalties are low because everyone takes a cut from the sales. The publishing house takes a cut to cover the cost of publishing and to make a profit. Editors, book cover designers, and bookstores, all take a piece of the sales. This is why the royalty is so low.
If you independently publish, the online store takes a cut.
This cut is usually around 30%, depending on the retailer, then you get the rest. You will need to pay for editing, formatting, and book cover design costs before you publish the book. This means you will need to sell a certain number of books before you start making a profit. For example, if you price an ebook at $3.99 and receive a 70% royalty, which is $2.79 per copy sold. And, you spend $1,000 on editing, $250 on cover design, and $150 on formatting the ebook. You will need to sell 502 copies before you begin to make a profit from your writing. I know this sounds like a lot.
If you write for your audience and market your book, you can make a profit.
Reason #2 – I’m a Control Freak
One of the biggest downsides to traditional publishing is a lack of creative control. For some people, this isn’t a problem. As I alluded to earlier, I’m a self-confessed control freak. I want a say in the design of my book cover and the changes made in the editing process. I’m not completely stubborn and I will listen to the advice of a seasoned professional.
But, I want to have the choice to listen to my gut instinct and be true to my story, or to listen to the expert.
In the traditional publishing world, an editor makes changes to the book before it goes to publication. There is no back and forth between the editor and writer. Unless you hit the editor lottery. The editing process is how you grow as a writer. Having no involvement in the editing process is a bad thing. A lack of involvement means you will not understand why certain aspects of your book need to change. Which also leads to a lack of awareness of your own failings as a writer.
Self-awareness is an important part of the writing and editing process.
I want to grow and evolve as a writer. And, I want my next book to be better than the last. I feel that choosing to self-publish will help me achieve my goal.
Reason #3 – You Can’t Escape Marketing
There’s a myth that a traditional publishing house will do all the marketing for your book. This isn’t true. While a publishing house will do some of the marketing for you. It’s minimal.
There a business and they want to make a profit. A publishing house will invest the majority of its marketing budget in the books, that will give a greater return on investment. Unless the publishing house thinks you’re the next J K Rowling, they will not invest much money in marketing your book.
Unfortunately, you can’t escape marketing, no matter which option you choose. All roads lead, to you figuring out how to market your book. Marketing isn’t easy. In fact, there’s nothing easy about writing and publishing a book. I’m happy to do my own marketing and connect with readers of my books because it’s an enjoyable part of the writing process.
Reason #4 – Mistakes Can Be Easily Changed
No one likes errors. I used to work for a publishing house. I’ve seen shelves lined with multiple versions of books. Each of these versions is an update because to errors found on the pages. If you’re publishing a paperback, it will be difficult to update and correct errors. The old copies will always be on the shelves of your readers.
As an indie author, you decide when your books are updated. You don’t have to wait 12 months until you can release another version of your paperback. A publishing house needs to run by a schedule. They need to manage the flow of new books and updates of older books.
Publishing house approach ebooks updating in a similar way. I know of authors who have received emails from readers letting them know about errors in their books. These authors then have to wait x amount of months to make minor changes to an ebook. If you’re an indie author, a new version can be made available within 12-hours of a new upload to the online store. It’s an easy fix.
These are my reasons for choosing to self-publish books. Many of my reasons are because of how I want to run my author business. This is a decision I made after a fair amount of research. I made this decision so long ago. It’s difficult to put a timeframe on how long it took me to make this decision. But, you need to be sure you’ve weighed the options and made the best possible decision.
As always, I have a few important questions to ask you. Are you thinking of writing a book? Are you choosing to self-publish or to traditionally publish? I want to hear from you. Let me know by sharing your story in the comments section below.
Thank you for listening, reading, commenting and sharing with such enthusiasm.
I’m Amelia. I write Mystery Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I’m the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I’m editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.