Self-Publish Your Book in 2014…Here Are 8 Reasons Why

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Maybe it’s time for you to self-publish your book.

I know, I know. You want the affirmation of a professional third party (an agent, a publisher, or at least someone besides your mom or spouse). You’re worried about putting something out there that no one will read. You’re concerned about the marketing and promotional side to releasing a book.

Well, fear not. (That seems to be the theme this year: fear not. Do not be afraid.)

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve worked with three wonderful publishing houses and some incredible editors, and there are some huge advantages to working with an established publisher. Huge. Maybe that will be my next post.

But today I’m encouraging you to self-publish. Get your book out there. Create something, and give yourself the satisfaction of seeing it through to completion.

Here are eight benefits you’ll see should you decide to self-publish your book this year:

1)   Any story can be put into book form. It doesn’t matter how many people are interested in your story or your topic or your writing. You can write a book about your family, or a guide to recreating human organs out of spare Legos. You can write the story of your great-uncle Marv or a novel about ants (not that I have anything against novels about ants) – if you’re self-publishing, it can become a book. Books are still cool.

2)   You can title your book whatever you want. Because you don’t have to worry about marketing teams and third parties and, well, anyone else, you can choose any title you want. There’s a fair amount of freedom when it comes to self-publishing, and this is one of those areas.

3)   You can create any kind of cover you want. Would you like your great-aunt Martha to be on the cover? Your dog Grover? Or maybe you’re a minimalist looking for a black title on a white cover. Go for it.

4)   Access to inexpensive copies of your book. Most self-publishing services will give you a good deal when it comes to getting your hands on copies of your own book. If I want copies of books I’ve self-published, I can usually buy them for about $3.75 (with no minimum order). If I want copies of my books that have been printed through traditional publishers, I’m looking at paying anywhere from $6 – $9 (ouch).

5)   One of the great things about self-publishing is that you operate under no misconceptions that anyone else is responsible for the marketing of your book. Sure, with traditionally published books, the publisher will do its part for a little while, but there’s no substitute for creating your own PR and marketing plan, and then acting on it. When you have a publisher it’s easy to assume that ball is in their court, but when you’re self-publishing you have no one else to rely on. If you’re not talking about your book, no one is.

6)   Release the book whenever you want. I have friends who have written books and then it’s taken 18 months to 2 years for the publisher to release the book. I’ve had other friends who wrote the book and then the publisher changed their mind, or the acquisition editor got fired or moved on and left their title under-represented. I’ve been fortunate in that the published books that I’ve written were on a quick-release time frame, and all have moved along smoothly.  But if you self-publish, you could have that book in your hands as soon as you’d like, and no unexpected change in a huge conglomerate will alter that.

7)   Make more profit per book. Self-published paperback books will make you around 40% when sold on Amazon, self-published e-book’s will make you 70%, paperbacks you sell yourself will net around 70%, and you’ll make around 35% on books sold through local bookstores (although that takes a lot of work, getting a self-published book into a bookstore). For books that are traditionally published, the royalty for all of those, in any form, is closer to 15%.

But by far the most important benefit to self-publishing your book?

8)   You get to finish it and move on. I know too many writers who are sitting on that manuscript, just waiting for an agent or publisher to pick it up. And as the years pass, they don’t create anything new. They simply can’t get beyond that first book until it’s published. And this is where self-publishing is such a great tool, because you can publish it, learn from your mistakes, try to market it and learn from that, then write something new.

Of course, most of these could also be seen as negatives…make my own cover? Create my own marketing plan? Come up with the perfect title? Are you kidding me?

I never said self-publishing was perfect for everyone, or for every project.

What do you think about self-publishing versus traditional publishing?

10 Replies to “Self-Publish Your Book in 2014…Here Are 8 Reasons Why”

  1. Shawn, do you have suggestions for that self-published book that you simply want to give away as a gift to your friends and readers? What I mean is how to publish it as I expensively as possible.

  2. Reading this makes me aware of the chuztpha it would take to self-publish. I’m so often too dependent on the approval of others, I want that rubber-stamp from a publishing house. Which makes me think self-publishing could be, if I let it, a good exercise in self-confidence building, which would be necessary for pursuing traditional publishing anyway.

    1. You make a great point, Kelly. Self-publishing is a good exercise in confidence building. It’s tough to release something on your own…then again, one of the crucial elements of self-publishing is creating a team of people that will support the launch but also be honest with you pre-launch.

  3. I did a self publish a few years back and must agree with your points. Was it a good book, looking back well, no. It was “OK” for a first book but I know now, that no publisher in their right mind would agree to print it. I DID learn ALOT about writing in the process. I sold about 10 copies and gave away as many. Now, I know I can write and would self publish again. I do want that stamp of approval and perhaps the story I am currently working on will get that, but yes, self publishing is “paying your dues” for any writer and should be undertaken by anyone that wants their work to be seen.

    1. I think writers can learn invaluable lessons by self-publishing, as well as gain a greater respect for what publishers have to offer.

  4. It has been a blessing for my young author and we have made many friends who are self-published. They are some hard working individuals. I know of a few who would rather not give up their control of everything in order to be traditionally published. You are right, it does help you move on. I like that way of looking at it. Have a blessed rest of the week, Shawn.

  5. Before I self-published, I went back and forth between deciding what might be best.

    Just like you said, I wanted the affirmation that came with traditional publishing, but I also knew that I wanted my book to release at a very specific time.

    At least for my first book, I’m glad I eventually tackled the self-publishing route because there was so much about the book business and Amazon and Scrivener and publishing and pricing and marketing that I would have never learned otherwise.

    I’m sure I’ll wrestle with the question again once work on book #2 begins …

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