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Pro’s and Con’s of Self-Publishing?

Home / Forums / List of Forums / Publishing Advice & Help / Pro’s and Con’s of Self-Publishing?

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    I realize I’m a long way from getting published, but when I’m ready I’d like to know what options are available. Can those of you that SP tell my why you did and list some of the pro’s and con’s to it?



    This may not be the best reason for SP, but at my age, I just felt I couldn’t wait forever sending my ms here, there and everywhere, waiting. . . waiting. . . waiting for that moment some editor would request a full ms. The fact that even the big houses (Bantam, Penguin, etc) still rely on the author to push sales made me feel like I can do that!

    I used CreateSpace and found it fairly simple, plus once you sign on, there is a plethora of articles to help you. On the down side, is the actual marketing. It’s unbelievable how much work goes into it. Living in a rural community makes it more difficult for me, not many stores around to consign my books to. Writing conferences have not yeilded the sales I expected. Amazon, Kindle, PubIt sales have been scanty.

    I suppose some of it depends on how much hype you gender before publication and your subject material. But right now, with the economy as it is, selling books is way down. E-books are better and that’s another can of worms. Some say it is worth it to sell your book for $.99 to $4.99. I say, sure if you’re a Tom Clancy and can sell thousands on your name only, but for the unknown author? Plus, I have a little grudge about working for a year or more on a book, only to give it away for 99 cents.

    In the end, I suppose we do what we do because we love to write and we have to endure our apprenticeship.



    I got tired of waiting. I kept looking at those odds, and they were stacked against me. Even if I had a super AWESOME book that was already polished to the 8th degree and could be just picked up with very little work from the publisher, chances were I wasn’t going to make it.

    After I signed with a small press publisher, and then had that small press publisher fall on her face with my book, I said, “Screw this bleeeep! I’m doing it on my own!”

    There are ups and downs. It’s tough, but here are a few of MY pros and cons for self publishing.


    With a publisher, I will at least have their following to boost my own.

    With a publisher, I only have to pay for advertising, and only if I want to be successful.

    With a publisher, I can get in the bookstores, though, not all bookstores accept small pub books. I found that out the hard way. And a lot of the small pubs can’t afford to take the risk of the big book stores buying 700 (Just threw a number out there/could be bogus.) books. That could break a small press if the books don’t sell and they have to buy them back.

    With a publisher, you generally get (5) copies – as negotiated – of your book for giveaways.

    Cons :
    EVERYTHING is out of MY pocket, not just the advertising.
    Buying copies

    It’s hard to get in the book stores. There are a couple that will entertain the idea. I’m still working on that one.

    It takes a lot of effort to get the word out, many months of constant pushing. It’s happening, but, man is it slow!

    To be honest, the CONTROL makes up for a lot of the cons. If you go this route, come up with a business plan with a well-planned, timed budget and just plan on not making money for at least 6 months. If you do before that, GREAT! But plan for the worst.



    I am not SP but I do follow a lot of posts about the topic. Seems like self-publishing means taking on a full time business. You have to have a business plan – everything chalked out from one month to the next. Marketing, sales, value proposition, budget – it can get fairly crazy.
    However, despite the frenzy, writers seem to love it. They will whine and tell you how tough it is but they love the “control” as @smblooding said above.



    I self-pubbed my first novel (called Bubbles Pop, and available for free today on the Kindle through Amazon if you’re interested), and I can tell you that it’s been a rocky ride. I’ll do the cons first:

    1) It can get expensive and time-consuming. I tried to do it on the cheap at first, editing and formatting and designing the cover myself. As a web developer by trade, I could handle the work, but it sapped many, many hours. And without any marketing campaigns, it just sat there for six months, with a grand total of about three sales. It’s only #90 in the Kindle store today because it’s a freebie and I did an advertising blitzkrieg to get it there. Don’t expect to just send it off and let Amazon or Smashwords take care of everything for you; it’s hard–and often futile–work.

    2) There’s a lingering bias against self-published books. Many popular review bloggers won’t even look at them, and there are a lot of people who assume the only reason you self-pubbed is because you’re a lousy writer who couldn’t publish “the right way.” People who read your book may say dismissive things like, “With some cleaning up by a ‘real’ publisher, this could have been amazing,” even if you followed the same exact process that Random House would have.

    3) It’s all you. You don’t have a big conglomerate buffer against harsh public opinion or financial ruin. You can’t blame the editing team for screwing up a proofread, or the graphic artist for sticking you with a lousy cover. All of your peers are also your competition. It’s not only tough to juggle every aspect of the production process, but holding yourself responsible for absolutely everything can take a big psychological toll. You have to have a thick skin and a indefatigable stubbornness to stick to it.

    And now the pros, which I think are worth every one of those complaints above:

    1) The copyrights are all yours, and nobody can take them away. You’re not locked into an indefinite contract with someone who could throw you by the wayside and forget you there, letting you and your work languish in obscurity. The book is yours; if something isn’t working, you can do anything you want with it.

    2) The royalties are all yours too. You have to let the vendors keep their 30-40%, of course, but there are no big houses taking 85% and then playing accounting tricks to push it up to 90, or agents who take another 15% slice for the rest of your life. Any expenses are out of pocket up front, and then they’re done. Anything you make is yours to keep.

    3) Even though you’re responsible for everything, you also have complete control over everything. The publisher can’t shove a terrible cover or short-sighted editing decision down your throat, and then threaten to yank the title and demand their advance back if you don’t comply. They can’t mess up the e-book conversion or price it way too high for the market and ignore any protests you make. You can produce a work in its entirety the way you envisioned it, without anyone’s permission, and handle your own business decisions.

    I hope this helps. Overall, I would recommend self-publishing, but you need to be prepared for the hard work and risk that comes with it. Ultimately, both self- and traditional publishing are grueling endeavors, and your success will rest 99% on luck.

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