Should you self-publish your book?

Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.

A common question that potential writer-takers ask is whether they should self-publish their book or strike a deal with a traditional publisher. While both types of publishing have pros and cons, most entrepreneurs are better served with self-publishing. However, many people skimp on some important basic expenses when self-publishing. It is important to know in advance what is optional and what is not when writing and publishing your own business book.

Related: 3 Questions You Need to Answer Before Writing Your Business Book

Self-publishing means you get your message across faster

If you can get a literary agent and a traditional publishing deal, you could be waiting months or even years to get your book to market. And that’s not counting the time it takes to find a willing agent and publisher – an arduous process with no guarantee of success.

However, you might find yourself procrastinating without an unchanging posting delay. This is where a qualified book coach can help you stay on track. Or, you can try to motivate yourself by telling everyone who will listen when you expect to finish and publish your book.

Related: 3 Red Flags to Watch for When Hiring a Book or Writing Coach

Once you’ve completed these four steps, you can self-publish your book in a day.

  1. An edited or proofread book: do not skip this step. A book full of typos will make you look like an amateur. Amazon reviews abound on authors who haven’t invested in editing or proofreading services.
  2. A high quality book cover: Again, this is not something to avoid. While Amazon/Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) offers cover designs, people can, will, and should judge a book by its cover. With a dull book cover that looks like everyone else’s, people may not pick up your book at all.
  3. Formatting the book: You need the document containing your book formatted for digital and printing. This usually requires the services of a professional. The good news is that your editor or cover designer can include it in their services. Or, (this is a rare tip from me) you can use the cheapest person you can find on a site like Fiverr.
  4. A well-written author biography and book description: This is important for the back cover of your printed book. And even if you go digital only, you need it for your Amazon page, website, any press releases, etc.

Now back to why self-publishing is better than chasing that elusive book deal.

Self-publishing gives you full and permanent control of your content

A number of people came to me upset because they had gone to a publisher and the book was out of print. Publishers do this when they no longer see a way to make money from the book. The author assumed they could easily reprint the book themselves.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Once you sign a contract with a publisher, they own the book. They can cut out parts of your manuscript, ask another author to add things to your manuscript – the list goes on.

And even though this book is out of print, they still have it.

That means you can’t even turn it into an e-book without heavy legal wrangling and expense.

Traditional publishers aren’t investing heavily in author marketing campaigns like they used to

At the time (1990s and before), publishers invested heavily in advertising their authors’ books. Once social media arrived, more of the onus shifted to the author. In my role as a book publicist, many authors have come to me angry because they haven’t received a marketing campaign from a publisher. They thought they were saving money by not investing in editing, covers, marketing, etc. themselves. But only in rare cases have people who weren’t yet known authors gotten much more than a press release and maybe a few book signings. It’s an oxymoron: publishers invest their resources only in well-known authors. So if you want podcast interviews, magazine and newspaper interviews, TV appearances and more, you’ll still need to pay a qualified publicist to get your point across.

Self-publishing means better royalties/profits

When you publish on Amazon, you usually get 60-70% of the profit after the cost of printing your book. With a traditional editor, you might get a dollar or less.

Let’s illustrate this.

If Amazon charges $2.65 for every print-on-demand book someone orders from you and your list price is $14.95, that’s $12.30 after the printing costs are covered.

At 60%, you get $7.38 per pound!

Additionally, you can order author copies at cost. A client of mine does this often and has sold over 200 books at events.

Let’s illustrate this again.

  • You have ordered 200 copies of your book at $2.65 each. It’s $530.
  • You sell your 200 copies for an even $15 each, or $3,000.
  • Then $3,000 minus $530 is $2,470.

All for you.

This is especially useful for people talking, networking, etc. None of this is possible with traditional editing.

In summary

The rocky road to a traditional publishing deal is a great ego boost. But, more often than not, it’s full of drama for most would-be writers.

Some basic investments are important. But with marketing know-how and a solid network, you will earn a lot more money by self-publishing and sell your other products or services more easily.

Related: 5 Essential Reasons to Stop Procrastinating and Write Your Book Now

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