Since the advent of the internet, self-publishing has become a booming business in and of itself, and now resides pretty much separate from the world of traditional publishing. Both have their advantages, but also can be pretty scary to navigate for the uninitiated. To help ease you into what self-publishing has to offer, here are five reasons why many choose to travel down this road.
This one's the biggest reason why I'd think of handling every aspect of publishing myself. If you want to retain control of your writing without having to think about the bottom line of anyone's financials except your own, you might fare better as an "authorpreneur." As in mainstream entertainment, the bigwigs can sometimes hand down notes or demand aspects of your work be removed, or elements that clash with your vision be added based on what they think will sell. If you're your own boss, no one has the final say except for you!
Indie = Independent
Independence goes hand in hand with creative control, but in a different sense. The only deadlines you're beholden to are those you set for yourself as a self-published author. That means you won't be pulling your hair out trying to finish a manuscript on time, or worrying about time in general. Just take it easy and write the way you write. You have control over your timeline so you can work the way you work best, free from distraction. If a day doesn't go as planned or something comes up and you can't work on that chapter, tomorrow's another day, not the end of the line. Don't take too long, though, you don't want to keep your audience waiting!
Like any other space in the entertainment industry, publishing can be a "who you know" game, factoring in just as much as the work you're putting in. When you send your hard work to a publisher, there will many pairs of eyes looking over it, and some may be waiting to stamp the red X of disapproval on your manuscript, simply because you're not a big name. Self-publishing can help you make yourself a name, all from the comfort of your own desk. With the ease of publishing online today, you don't need to worry about any corporate entity stopping you from putting your work out there if you choose a do-it-yourself approach.
Ease of Printing
There are many services that will print your work no questions asked, and usually they're pretty reasonable as far as pricing goes. You can use a company to print your work in advance, like IngramSpark, or Mixam, or you can get your work printed on-demand, through programs like Kindle Direct Publishing. Printing your work at cost and in advance means that the printed copies will be sent to you personally, for you to distribute. While this is okay for smaller runs, and things like zines or comic books, it may not be the best way to distribute your 800-page high fantasy sci-fi epic. This is where print-on-demand services come in. With Amazon Direct, as well as IngramSpark, you have the option to produce copies only when they are ordered and direct-to-consumer, meaning that you won't be sent a 100 pound box of paperbacks to sit on and wait to sell. This is a very affordable alternative to a large print run, both in cost and space-effectiveness.
Self-publishing affords higher profit margins and better royalties than a traditionally published book. This is a reason that can be argued for, or against self-publishing, but allow me to explain. In a traditional publishing deal, you'll make an advance based on what the company thinks your book will sell, and then you'll make a royalty, or extra percentage per sale, sometimes depending on the format sold (hardcover, paperback, ebook.) This ain't a bad way to earn a living, but don't expect a seven figure book deal from the start, unless you'll bring a huge following of avid readers to the table. Now while a traditional publisher will allocate budgets for marketing, art, distribution and anything that doesn't to the actual writing, which is good and takes pressure off your shoulders, these people don't work for free. If you control these avenues, it's more work, but also less overhead costs, especially with sites like Fiverr, where you can find someone who will make a high quality cover for much less than a designer contracted by a publisher. This also allows you to build your own relationships with designers and printers as opposed to having a company be your middleman.