You’ve probably heard about self publishing before, but maybe you’re not 100% sure what it entails. I mean, what is self publishing anyway? Hopefully this will answer all your questions so you can decide if publishing a book on your own is the right option for you.
What is Self Publishing? A Guide for Beginners
Some people say that writing a book is the easy part. While that might not always be true, it definitely can be a challenge to get a book published. Even J.K. Rowling was rejected 12 times while pitching Harry Potter to publishers. The best part about self publishing is it eliminates the publisher part of the equation. That means you get to launch your book how you want it without having to fight for it to become made.
When you self publish a book, you are working in place of the publisher. That means you handle the editing, designing, and marketing for your book. You’ll also need to do all the paperwork like applying for an ISBN. Finally, you’ll be liable for any legal implications of your book like false claims or copyright infringement.
Up until recently, a traditional publisher was the only option to getting a book made. Nowadays, though, any aspiring writer can have their book published.
Self publishing on your own
One of the major downsides to self publishing is that you don’t have someone backing you financially. That means no advance payment while you’re finishing up your manuscript. It also means all costs associated with self publishing are on you. This includes designing the cover, the marketing, and ordering the books themselves.
Self publishing in the truest sense is when you submit your order all the books on your own from a book printer then try and sell those copies. Doing it this way has a lot of upfront costs but if you’re successful you keep more of your profits.
Self publishing with an agency
Self publishing agencies act a bit like publishers, but with some major differences. First of all, they only have a broad set of rules for legal reasons but otherwise don’t act as gatekeepers. They offer a range of services so if you’re interested in using an agency make sure to compare what each has to offer.
Most commonly, self publishing agencies help you with formatting your book, cover design, printing, and applying for an ISBN. Others might resemble a traditional publishing house with editing or marketing services at a fee.
Usually, self publishing agencies require an up front fee for their services. They also usually charge you for printing costs.
Both self publishing on your own and with an agency will usually have order minimums. That means you have to buy a minimum amount of books each order. These numbers do vary, but usually range around 10-50.
Printing on Demand
This is the last way to get a physical book into the hands of your readers, and definitely the most cost effective. Some self publishing websites offer print on demand (POD) services. That means that instead of you ordering a case of books and trying to sell them yourself, you sell them online directly to the customer.
How does it work, exactly? Typically POD companies charge a minimum per cost book. Then they split the profits with you. You make the least amount off each sale with this method but there are usually no or low initial costs associated with printing on demand.
What is self publishing for ebooks?
Unlike paper (or physical) books, ebooks have a lot less upfront costs associated with the publishing process. If you’re self publishing an ebook you don’t need to use any kind of publishing agency to sell it as long as you have an online store.
Costs associated with self publishing an ebook are pretty straightforward. You’ll still need a cover designed and the pages formatted. Marketing is also a must with ebooks because they’re not “on the shelf” like in a traditional store.
If you want to use a publishing agency for your e-book the upfront costs tend to considerably lower than with a printed publication.
What is KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)?
This is one of the more popular printing on demand and ebook publishing agencies. KDP is completely free to sign up for and use. To earn a profit, they take a portion of your sales revenue. That cut depends on the type of book you’re selling and the price you have it listed at. But, one major advantage of KDP is it automatically lists your book or ebook on Amazon and/or Amazon Kindle.
Pros of self publishing:
- Complete creative control. You don’t need to change your writing to fit with what your editor thinks is best. Everything inside your book is 100% a reflection of you!
- Get published right away. With a traditional publisher, it can take weeks to hear back just to get a no. With self publishing you can get your book published right away.
- No rejection. For centuries publishing houses got to decide what did, and didn’t, get printed. Just because a publisher doesn’t see the vision behind your book or appreciate your work it doesn’t mean the public won’t love it.
- Make more money. Although this isn’t always the case, you will get to keep more of your profits than traditional book deals.
- No need to hire an agent. Agents might be helpful for some authors to get their manuscripts accepted by publishers, but they’re also another hand in your pocket. Save yourself the fees and self publish on your own.
Cons to self publishing:
- Can be overwhelming at first. It might feel like there’s a lot of information to take in. Some agencies help make it easier but charge for their services. There’s also some great online courses that specialize in self publishing to get you started.
- Possible upfront costs. Especially if you’re ordering printed books and hiring designers.
- Less help and support. You’ll be going at it alone without deadlines or a pushy editor. You’ll have to set your own goals and stay organized.
Now that you’re familiar with what self publishing is, it’s time to get your book published. Whether it’s with a traditional publisher or through self publishing, writing a book is a fantastic accomplishment. Congratulations!