Self-Publishing vs Submitting Manuscript to a Publisher

Self-publishing means you produce, format and market your book yourself, usually through your own Web site and the many markets.

Why choose self-publishing instead of submitting a manuscript to an established company?

self publishingMany of us who have self-published believe the following 13 key benefits outweigh what conventional publishing has to offer:

  1. Control of your content and design
  2. Work at your own pace
  3. Publish must faster than conventional publishing houses
  4. Technology makes self-publishing easier than ever before
  5. Eliminate the risk of getting dropped from publisher’s catalog
  6. Ability to keep a book available for years
  7. Keep larger percentage of income from sales
  8. No ceiling on earnings
  9. Get paid faster
  10. Build and keep your own customer list
  11. Be the CEO of your own publishing empire
  12. Get tax deductions as a business owner
  13. If your book is successful, you can always opt to sell to a large publishing house for a big, fat advance

Most publishing houses will only pay you advances equal to the royalties they project will arise from selling your book within a limited time. Unless you have a large network that you grew from being well known in your field, your book won’t get much publicity. You are expected to promote your book yourself to spark sales. If your book doesn’t reach their sales quota levels in the first six months to a year, the publisher will not reprint.

As for artistic control, it is most likely your book won’t be published as you wrote it.

When I had the idea for my first book in 1991, I knew my audience was limited — around 200,000. I got this number from looking at the number of subscribers to all the magazines on the subject. It seemed like self-publishing was my only option because the audience was relatively small and I imagined no publisher would be interested.

The first year in print, the new book sold 2,000 copies. Retail sales accounted for 40% and the remaining 60% sold at an average discount of 50%, bringing in a gross revenue of around $20,000. Over time, the book continued to get orders, even six years after the initial publication.

Most publishing houses would have dropped the title within a year, not because it wasn’t selling, but because it wasn’t selling enough to meet their corporate demands.

When the book received rave reviews, however, I did approach several major publishers about buying the reprint rights. After getting a pitiful offer of $1,500 advance from one of the largest publishers of that genre and a contract full of clauses that took much and gave little, I decided to expand the subject into a series and continue self-publishing. If I had gone with the deal from the major publishing house, I would have lost thousands of dollars and control of my material.

A big plus for self-publishing is that you can take pride in the accomplishment of being a publisher as well as an author. As the author, you can promote your books for a much longer time than most publishers.

Your book(s) build credentials for you as an expert in your field, which helps your other book sales, which feeds back into building your reputation. Self-esteem is healthy and publishing can bring you lots of it. I am often overwhelmed by the respect I receive from readers who tell me how much my advice has helped them.