I speak to authors regularly to help them organize their writing and create publishing plans that fit their goals and economic status. While one of the biggest barriers to self-publishing is usually funds, the second usually is lack of information or research. Traditional publishing is nice if you have the patience for it and don’t mind letting someone else take over, but for those who like be in charge here are a few good reasons to self-publish, as well as some major pitfalls.
5. No Rejections! This is one that resonates with every author. No one likes to be told no, especially if there is not a clearly identifiable problem with your manuscript. While this is a perfectly good reason to go the self-publishing route, which will ensure your publication, rejections are a motivation for some authors to improve on their work.
Pitfall: Without an honest, third-party assessment of your manuscript before publishing, you can end up with a sub-par product that destroys your reputation as an author.
How to Avoid It: Find a professional editor to provide you with honest feedback. Some have a process for this type of review, while others charge an hourly fee. The goal is to not only get feedback, but also suggestions on how to resolve your issues. Companies like EverFaith Press provide a Rubric with their manuscript assessments which allow you to see your problem areas and how you can fix them.
4. Editorial Control. This perk of self-publishing is great for authors who like to be in the know. You have the ability to interview and select your own editor, or at least set the parameters for success and their interaction with you.
Pitfalls: Selecting the wrong editor by going for the lowest cost only. Another big mistake is ignoring your editor. If you have selected your editor wisely, it is important that you take the time to weigh and value their input.
How to Avoid It: First, make sure that you request a sample edit. Any editor that takes on your book without first reviewing your manuscript is no one you should work with. They need to see your manuscript to determine if they can help you or not. Second. when selecting your editor, have a conversation with them about their editing style and how they work with authors. Vibes are not sufficient, but if you combine your “personality assessment” with their assessment of your manuscript and sample edit, you will have all of the pieces needed to make an educated decision.
3. Design Input. Many traditional publishers work on your design for you, and your input is limited if allowed at all. When self-publishing, depending on how you go about it, you are able to veto covers you do not like and creative control over the design concepts.
Pitfall: Design input is only a plus if you have options and are working with a skilled designer. Using a self-publishing press can be a benefit here, because they typically make deals with quality designers based on book quantities to get you the best pricing. When approaching the same or similar designer, your costs can triple and push you towards a cheaper more sub-par choice.
How to Avoid It: Look for promotional specials when you review the work of graphic designers, and make sure that they have experience with creating at least 5 book covers for print publications. Don’t hesitate to interview them, and if you really don’t have the time to do the legwork then visit small presses like EverFaith Press and Believers Press. They both have contractors who can provide sample work from established designers for you to choose from.
2. Higher Royalties. It’s good to get paid, and it’s even better when you can set your own rates. This is the number 2 best reason to self-publish, because you see an immediate return on your investment. It takes a while to recoup the publishing costs, but to many authors it’s worth it.
Pitfalls: There are four major pitfalls here 1. Not setting your own royalty rate, 2. Setting your rate too high to reinvest in your work, 3. Not setting your royalties aside for personal use and 4. Not using the book revenue to reinvest.
How to Avoid It: Being a smart business person is one of the key skills you will need to be a successful authorpreneur, but it’s not something you can learn overnight. The quick lesson (or reminder) is that you have to both pay yourself and set money aside to further your book marketing plans. Creating your own contract to set your royalty rate lets you make a little money back from your work, while reasonably setting aside the remainder for a business account. You can save that money and use it invest in any future book plans that you may have.
1. Access to Final Files. There are no major pitfalls here, and honestly It’s the most important reason to self-publish carefully. Many companies are happy for you to pay them to produce your work, and are only satisfied if they can keep you coming back for more. They force your hand by not providing you with your final files so you have to go through their more expensive channels for any print needs. EverFaith Press has the advantage on most self-publishing companies here, as it is in their standard agreement to provide the final files to their authors. They keep you coming back because their print costs are one of the cheapest in the POD world, and the turnaround time is phenomenal.
Pitfalls: If you do get a copy of your final files, make sure not to corrupt it! If you do not have the knowledge of InDesign or whatever layout tool they use, do not try to figure it out using your file. If you destroy it, you most likely will need to pay to have it recreated.
How to Avoid It: Maintain a back-up copy of all publication files, then make a back-up of your back-up. Preferably, you should store your files on a Cloud drive and on an external drive. This protects your investment and ensures that you have a copy of all final files for future changes or editions.
These are just a few good reasons to self-publish, and there are many reasons to traditionally publish as well. In the end it is up to you the author to decide what will work best for you.
Have you been published, or self-published your own book? What helped you to make your decision? Share your answers below!