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Getting published: self-publishing

All paths to publication can throw up risks and rewards. Consider your options carefully and pick the route that suits your book and skill set.

Wondering if self-publishing is the right next step for you and your work? The truth is, you’re the only one who knows the answer to that question – but we’ve put together a few pros and cons that might help.

Self-publishing pros

You book, your way

Publishing your own book means having the final say on everything, from plot to cover design. You won’t have to consider what publishers want and won’t have a sales team or board to answer to.

Getting your voice out there

Self-publishing can offer an avenue for writers who face barriers on their road to publication for a variety of reasons and offers alternative ways for underrepresented writers to reach larger audiences (and perhaps underrepresented readers).

Pick of the platforms

There are now many avenues for writers to make their work available to potential readers with minimal costs. From print on demand options such as Blurb, Lulu and Bookbaby, to digital programmes such as Amazon Kindle or Smashwords.

Create your own schedule

When you take publication into your own hands, you’ll have the chance to create a schedule that fits in with your life and your other commitments – or you might be able to take advantage of any special dates that would be good for promoting your book.

Retain all potential profits

While it’s likely you’ll have fees and costs to cover with your distributor and chosen publishing platform, you won’t have to give a cut of your earnings to a publishing company – profits will be all yours!

Self-publishing cons

You’ll be your own team

Publishing a book is a big job and you’ll need to take on (or outsource) the various roles a publishing company would traditionally provide for you, such as finding an editor, copy proofer, typesetter and cover design artist.

Promotion and marketing

You will also need to be prepared to market and promote your own book, which can be a big task too. If it’s a skill that comes naturally to you, you may take on the job yourself or you might prefer to hire a publicist to help.

Fighting stigmas

The stigma around self-publishing is on the wane, but it still exists. In self-publishing, it’s down to the author to exercise (or ensure) quality control, rather than a third party. While many authors self-publish their books to an extremely high standard, not all do (in the same way that not all publishing houses always do!) and that has had a knock on effect on opinion.

Getting into bookshops

Getting books into brick and mortar bookshops is notoriously difficult – for publishers as well as individuals – there’s only so much floor space and a large number of books. When publishers are able to offer discounts or larger lists of books and bulk buys, they may have an advantage.

Vanity publishers

There are lots of legitimate ways to self-publish your book but you also need to be wary of vanity publishers, who promise to help but charge a lot of money for very little. Watch out for exceptionally large fees and promises with no stats or proof to back them up.