When I decided I would write a book, I had a general idea of what it would take to accomplish that: a computer, a few months, and an editor. About halfway through the process of writing my first draft, I started to think about how I would share this story once it was done. To self-publish or not to self-publish? That was the question.
Having only been a published author for a little over a month, I am in NO WAY an expert at all on self-publishing. Anything I say in this article is strictly from my experiences so far. If you decide to self-publish, I can guarantee you will have a different experience than I have. There is no set in stone right way to do this. You have to figure out what works for you and go from there.
Here are my self-publishing pros and cons. In a year, I’m sure these will have changed some. Maybe I’ll write another one of these articles then. But for now, here are my thoughts:
Pros to self-publishing
- (Monetary) Freedom: I set the price of my book. I keep 65-70% of the sales of my book.
- (Story) Freedom: I don’t have anyone telling me that my book needs to follow a certain theme or include a certain arc so that it will sell X amount of copies to ____ audience. My story is 100% my own. I am fortunate enough to have found an editor that supports my story and my vision for where it will go, and her suggestions only aid me in sticking on my path.
- My husband: I am fortunate enough to be married to a graphic designer. What does this mean for me? Free cover art and ebook formatting! Now, I realize that not everyone can marry a designer or be friends with one, so this is a very limited “pro.” For me, though, this is one of the main reasons I felt comfortable going the self-publishing route. While I’m not the one designing my cover and laying out my book, if something doesn’t go right, I know where the designer sleeps. 😉
- Ease: This might seem like a throwaway point, but it’s definitely one I claim. While it may be potentially dangerous for some, I love having full control over when and where my books will be published. It allows me to work at my own pace without the unneeded pressure of a release date looming over my shoulder.
Cons to self-publishing
- You’re on your own: You are your own agent, publicist, and publisher. You have to become incredibly gifted at constantly changing hats. Want your book to do well? You better have a solid marketing plan set up that will work well around your writing schedule (if you’re trying to get started on a follow-up book or brand-new project).
- Getting your book reviewed: Reviews help sell books. Period. This was one of the hardest things for me to grasp at first, and then I was looking all over the place for a solution. Then I was directed to the miracle that is Goodreads. There are so many review groups on there that will give you an honest review in exchange for a copy of your book. Take the day and invest the time in joining the groups that best suit your genre.
- Sales figures: There have been plenty of times where I’ve logged onto Amazon or Barnes & Noble or iBooks, looked at my daily sales, and felt really discouraged. This kind of ties in with #1. I don’t have someone to constantly plug my book. It’s all on me. I’ve arrived at a place where I realize that 1) this is my first book, and no one knows about me and/or cares about me yet, and 2) I’m doing this because I love it. This isn’t my full-time job, even though one day I would love it to be.
- Getting the word out: This is different from #2. I promise. When I say “get the word out,” I mean be featured on blogs or websites, whether it be an author interview or book review or both. I’ve been very fortunate to find a few very awesome and courageous people over the past few weeks who have agreed to take the time to talk about little old me and my book baby. I can’t tell you how many emails and contact forms I’ve filled out, but it’s worth it when I get that one response back after a week of submissions. Just put your head down and keep digging. Eventually, someone will bite.
So there you go. Like I said, I’m no expert. These are just a few things I’ve dealt with or come to realize over my infant stages of self-publishing development. Let me know if you have anything you’d add to either list!