Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Oakley
There are many advantages self-publishing has over traditional publishing, here we take a look at four of the big ones to help you take the big step into the world of publishing your own book.
Though I like the term ‘author-owned’, self-publishing is the term under which independent publishing is known. I’m a self-publisher and advocate of self-publishing in general, so this isn’t a post attempting to push you into the arms of traditional publishers, or God forbid, vanity publishers!
No, this is very much a post about some of the advantages and benefits of self-publishing. But hey, if I were traditionally published then I would surely be writing a post about the advantages of going down that route.
For me, self-publishing means having control from the idea stage to the moment the ‘publish’ button is clicked. I’ve taken the time to learn the ins and outs of the publishing business, from formatting, cover design, editing, marketing, and promotion.
Where I used to outsource much of the publishing side of writing, I am now in a position where I can emotionally detach myself from my work in such a way that I look at my own books as products rather than my life’s work.
I mean, they are my life’s work, but after the writing is said and done then the publishing side of the journey begins, and I’ve always found that having no emotional attachment beyond the writing, works best. Simply because I’m not going to make business decisions based on emotion.
Saying all that, here are the four big advantages of self-publishing that I’ve found over the years, and why I would struggle now to take the traditionally published route.
1. Creative Control
Sometimes this is a terrible thing. It’s like giving $10million to an unknown filmmaker and telling them to do what they want. Then, once the film is completed, they hand their ‘masterpiece’ to the producers who suddenly realise they’ve got a B-movie product from a A-list budget, despite what the filmmaker says.
It’s too easy for many authors to claim they’ve written a masterpiece only for it to be littered with editing and formatting mistakes to the point that reviews are below zero. However, having control in the form of oversight of a project is one way to ensure everything clicks.
I see having creative control as the difference between expressing your own opinion and not. Being able to share the product that you’ve crafted to the point of publication is better than someone else having an opinion on everything down to the title. But control is something that should be learned.
2. Better royalty rates
The benefit of having full creative control is higher royalty rates, simply because there is no middleman to cut into the deal. A standard royalty rate with traditional publishers is between 10-25%, while with self-publishing, where you have full control, it can range from 50-70%.
Bear in mind that as a self-publisher or even being traditionally published, you would need to submit your tax returns as a self-employed business or under a business name.
Royalties are paid out to your own personal or business bank account and you can check in on them anytime of the day or night, to see how your books are faring, and discover if your marketing plan is up to scratch.
3. Keeping all the rights
Yes, when a publisher accepts you, you give up the rights to the usage of the book. Not the copyright but the rights to what happens to it. If you don’t like the cover or want to change it into a series, then you’ll probably have your book stuck under a publisher’s contract for several years and won’t be able to change it.
I love the fact that I keep all the rights to my books, because not only does it come with that good level of control, but I also know I can do anything with it in the future – even leave the publication and royalty rights to my loved ones in a will!
4. Saves time
Few writers go for this as an advantage, but self-publishing saves time, a lot of it. Trying to get a book in with a traditional publisher (NOT vanity publisher) involves querying an agent, having that agent represent you, and then that agent selling your book.
That doesn’t come easy. The entire querying process takes a lot of time and even more time when contracts need to be signed, agreements need to be made, and changes that may happen along the way.
Personally, I’d rather spend my time writing than querying, simply because I know and have learned that self-publishing – if done right – offers a higher risk/reward ratio compared to traditional publishing. Let’s face it, unless you’re a huge name, traditional publishing won’t make you rich.
The world’s changed, and with it, publishing. Traditional publishing will always have a place in the world. I grew up reading traditionally published authors, Clive Barker and James Patterson among them, and with that in mind, I’ll never downplay it.
But for me, self-publishing is king when it comes to making a living writing and is the only logical way that many writers will gain not only recognition but financial rewards. The advantages of self-publishing, if done right, can be huge.