Why self-publishing your novel is a no-brainer

Kev: I wrote this back in the heady days of 2014 – I’ve updated it slightly, but it pretty much remains the same.

I believe every committed, professionally-minded author should self-publish their work. Why? The answer is simple… why not?

Self-publish-and-be-happyI’m often asked about self-publishing and my usual response is to say, ‘there’s loads of info out there on the internet – go take a look’, but today I’m going to tackle it directly… strap yourselves in!

I’m gonna kick off with why I think you should self-publish, even if you want a traditional publishing deal. Later on, I’ll blog about how to adopt a professional approach, how to go about pricing, how to produce professional printed versions of your novels for free, and the many other things you need to do before you hit the ‘publish your book’ button and take your first step as an actual author.

The big dream
My dream (and maybe yours if you’re reading this) was to walk into any book store to find my novel sitting next to James Herbert. How cool would that be? That hasn’t happened quite yet. My books, although available as printed versions, have not yet cracked the major bookstores. But compared to where I’d be without self-pubbing, I’m way ahead of where I thought I could be.

So what changed?
In a nutshell… Technological changes in printing and the freedom of the Internet and the rise of social media channels for marketing and promotion.

We’ve all read about the success stories of brilliant self-pubbed writers – and the number is only growing. Publishing is no longer only for a few people, but for anyone who wishes to take control of the publishing process. They can write the books they want to write, when they want to write them and can release them at whatever time they desire. The publishing world has been turned upside down.

Self-pubbed now respectful?
Self-published authors are more and more finding themselves in book stores. Yet not so long ago (just a few years) self-publishing was pretty much seen as second best. Reviewers were not interested in reading self-published books and book stores would not stock them. Quite simply, self-publishing did not have the clout and respect it enjoys these days.

Now that self-pubbers can sit shoulder to shoulder with traditional authors, an astounding thing has happened: readers  don’t actually care how the book was published. As long as you give them a great, well-edited story, they will want to read your other novels in the same way they would to read any traditionally published author.

Self-publishing good / traditional bad?
Recently, the debate regarding self-publishing has polarised between self/indie vs. traditional publishing with Amazon on the side of the ‘good guys’ and traditional publishing firmly in the ‘bad guys’ camp.

I’m not going to take sides on this, but I’m at heart a converted and committed Indie Author. Why?

However much you may love traditional publishing, you have to agree that the process moves very slowly. If I was having meetings about a book I’d written now, in May 2016, and secured a book deal, the earliest my novel would hit the shops would be summer 2018 or thereabouts. Roughly twenty-six months later. And this doesn’t factor in the time spent sending in your MSS to agents and publishing houses in the first place—spending up to and over six months languishing in their slush piles.

And you might think that after such a wait, my book would be released to a well-co-ordinated marketing campaign. Not so. Most traditionally published authors are expected to do this themselves. And when your book is finally published, you will receive 15-20 per cent of your royalties (as a self-publisher you can take 70 per cent!).

This doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t consider a deal offered by one of the big six. Of course I would. I’ve grown up fantasising about meetings with agents and international book-signings. Sure, I’d be flattered. But any deal I signed would have to take into account the present state of publishing and have special provision for electronic sales.

Most importantly, with the rise of self-publishing, traditional publishers (and agents) have been effectively disfranchised. We no longer need them to become published. Which is a crying shame as I’d love to be taken out for a free meal by my agent and told how wonderful I am. You never know… it might happen yet.

What have you got to lose?
The slogan for UK LOTTO is ‘You have to be in it, to win it’ and although the chances of becoming a successful author are slim, having a book out there is surely better than sitting on your computer drive or in a forgotten folder, isn’t it?

Self-publishing not only lets you publish your novel, it gives you the opportunity to chase your dreams. Sure, the saying ‘don’t write to get rich’ is pretty much on the mark and most writers never make anywhere close to minimum wage on their books, but self-publishing gives you more than a cash-reward. You can publish a travel guide, a fiction novel, faction, photographs—anything you want and engage with other people who share your interest and enjoy your work. And you never, ever know—you might just get lucky and release that best-seller. That’s a million miles from posting your unsolicited manuscript to an agent or publishing house and waiting for the almost inevitable rejection.

And that’s why self-publishing is a no-brainer…


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9 thoughts on “Why self-publishing your novel is a no-brainer

  1. Nothing wrong with your arguments except the part about pubs raking in money now that they get most of their income from ebooks. That’s not true on either count. If you want to argue that it’s difficult to get a berth with trad pubs, they’re slow, etc., fine, but please don’t contribute to the false notion that the profit margins in publishing magically changed for pubs because they added ebooks to their print editions. That’s not how it works. (Speaking to you as a small press publisher who sells print and ebooks too.)

    1. Hi Deborah,

      Thanks for your comments. Yes, you’re right. e-books represent roughly 20% of the market share – the big six are still making the majority of their income from print sales. My mistake 🙁 However, they still take the same percentage of profit on e-books as they do with printed versions – although this is starting to change. You must agree that an author should receive a larger percentage royalty from e-books as that is only ‘fair’. And not all printed copies cost the publisher in the traditional way. A growing practice is the use of cheaper ‘print-on-demand’ services by some publishers to ‘print’ the back-catalogue of their authors.

      I’m not saying the big six or nor smaller publishers are ripping off authors intentionally. Instead, I believe that some are slow to move in a rapidly changing market. Publishers do a great job and are mostly run by people who care, but they have held the monopoly for too long. It’s a partnership, and that can only be strengthened by fairer contracts – and publishers and authors coming together to form something more dynamic and relevant to the evolving world of publishing.

      Where did I put my soapbox?

      Kev

  2. Rita

    Will pass this on to a friend who would like to publish a photography book. I’m glad I read this. ~Very interesting ~ thanks

    1. Tell her to subscribe to my blog, I’ll be putting up some self-publishing ‘how-to’ articles soon.

  3. Sophie David

    I think this is a wonderful article. It really makes me want to give it a go. I am in the process of writing a book and it would be great to be able to publish it myself. I already designed a cover so its definitely something I want to do after reading this.

    1. Hi Sophie,

      I also design the covers before the books are finished – or I’m puttiing off writing as usual! I’m writing a few more companion articles to this blog, so watch this space 🙂

  4. Maybe instead of tagging ourselves as “self-published”, we should just call ourselves “indie authors”.

    It’s all about the name-game…

    1. Hi Chris, thanks for your comment. I’m not sure it’s a name game – I don’t see too much baggage associated with the term ‘self-publish’. If fact, I’m glad the perception is changing.to make it more positive. I see self-pubbers as authors who control the entire process, where ‘Indie authors’ may have a contract with an independent publisher/or third party publisher, The terms are not that synonymous. Having said that, Indie and self-publishing are gaining more and more momentum and that can only be a good thing 🙂

  5. What’s great about self-publishing is that you are in complete control. There are no gatekeepers and you are free to publish as you please. I agree that it’s better to get it out there than let it sit, unread, on your hard drive.

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