It truly is an exciting time to be a writer.
Originally, if an author wanted to be published, they had no option but the traditional route. This option came with its benefits of course, but if not sold properly or the publisher had no interest in the writer’s work, most ended up rejected and few are published, so a lot of aspiring authors get frustrated and simply give up altogether.
This new modern era of books has blessed us with a second possibility- Self-publishing, an option for those who are fed up with their manuscript being rejected, simply want to avoid the hassle or are aware that many publishers will be unfamiliar with their genre of book (me).
There are many benefits to this, of course.
You retain all the rights.
When self-publishing, you remain the sole owner of your manuscript, meaning everything is yours, whereas if you handed it over to a publisher they would retain all of the rights to your story.
You receive higher royalties.
Traditionally publishing, you would usually receive around 30% of the royalties, or lower. Not to be discouraged though, they will be selling large volumes of your book.
However when self-publishing, you receive 70% or more in royalties of books sold.
You retain creative control.
Every author has a vision for their novel, they know exactly where they want it to go, and how every scene should be executed. If submitted to a publisher the author loses all creative control, and has virtually no say in changes and cuts to the novel.
Now not to make self-publishing to look like a faultless godsend, it of course, like everything on earth, has its faults and downfalls. Here are some not so great things about self-publishing you should also be aware of if you are considering it:
You’ll be doing everything yourself.
Think of all the planning, the re-writing, editing, formatting, cover design that goes into making a book. If you were publishing traditionally, none of these would be your problem. You just write your manuscript, and send it off. However if you weren’t, it’s all up to you to get it done right. You need to pay for all of these services, and to get it professionally done is very expensive. Although going for the cheaper option is desirable, it’s better to avoid as it means your book will be lacking in quality.
Beware the publishing houses.
The best advice I can give for these is to stay away from them completely, speaking from a bad experience. Publishing houses take your money, and format and edit your book for you. Although this may sound less complicated than contacting a load of freelancers for different services, make sure you READ the form they send you before signing it.
In a particular publishing house whose name I will not mention, I was offered the service for a ridiculously high price, and then sent a form to sign. In our phone call, I was informed authors received 60% royalties and retained all the rights to their work. In the form, it read authors receive 25% of royalties and the publishing house retains 100% rights to the work, as well as the right to alter, re-produce, re-create, etc. Thank goodness I’d read that and turned it down.
Also, don’t expect any marketing help from these people.
Self-published books have a bad name.
What is liberating to some, is undoubtably distasteful to others. Self-published books unfortunately have a reputation of being poorly-written, bad front covers, or both. This is for many reasons, most new ‘indie’ authors are clueless to what they’re doing, simply seeing ‘I published a book’ as enough, and completely disregarding the importance of quality.
Poorly-designed covers are a definite no no. We all judge by the cover, and we as readers often make the judgement that a poorly-designed cover means a poorly designed book, further decreasing our likelihood of buying it.
A lot of self-publishers also decide to forego editing due to expenses, another definite no. Editing is vital for a book’s success and readability, and this is one step that cannot be skipped. If not a professional editor, why not a friend or beta readers to look over the novel and brush for mistakes?
No matter the disadvantages of both, you now have the option to choose in which direction you want to publish you book. Whether you don’t mind relinquishing some of the control, or you want total dominace, I hope I helped narrow down the decision for you.