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Why Author-Owned Is the New Self-Published



Last Updated on August 23, 2022 by Ben Oakley

I rattled on about being author-owned instead of self-published in another post, but I’ve come to the inevitable conclusion that author-owned is the new way of saying one is self-published.

In that post, I explained what it meant to be author-owned and the impact it could have on self-publishing. It may be obvious but I’m an advocate of self-publishing, preferring to retain 100% creative and corporate control of my books.

You won’t find many self-published authors moaning about traditional publishing, as most of us believe the two can and will work side by side. There won’t be a bigger shift to self-publishing unless some of the giant name authors take that route themselves.

It’s far easier to be self-published before traditionally published than the other way around. You don’t read about many traditionally published authors taking the leap into self-publishing.

And they have no reason to, in some ways traditional publishing offers peace of mind, security, marketing expertise, incorporated advertising budgets, editors, cover designers – wait, that sounds pretty good!

Except, signing a contract with a traditional publishing company means you will never own 100% of that book’s rights, regardless of what you’re reading elsewhere.

Yes, you own the copyright, but you don’t own the ISBN, publishing name, cover design, marketing strategy, advertising budget, promotional material, series options, or rights to publish that book in a marketplace where it is not already published.

Being author-owned means that the author is entirely responsible from the seed of the idea to the marketing for the published book. Though it may scare some people away who prefer the trad route, it emboldens others who want total control.

It doesn’t make us control freaks, it makes us businesspeople who have come to learn the ins and outs of the publishing world while existing on the fringe of the corporate machine.

That’s the thing with being author-owned, to publish as well as the trad companies you need to know what they do and how they do it. Much of what publishing companies do is exactly what’s been written above, on this site, and on millions of pages out there in the wilds of the internet.

There’s no secret to publishing a book, the only barriers to going fully author-owned are the knowledge and skills required to replicate what the trads do but under your own publishing name.

My publishing name is Twelvetrees Camden, a play on my surname and the town I live in. It’s run as a fully-fledged limited company (more on that in another post) that looks like a traditional publishing company but exists solely to publish my own books.

In doing so, I run the company exactly like I would a traditional publishing one but focused solely on my own works. I wrote before about removing emotional attachment to a book once its completed, and it’s a mindset that’s needed to really tackle the business side of it.

As soon as one of my books are completed, they go through the editing and cover design stages followed by formatting, metadata creation, promotion scheduling, creation of marketing and advertising budgets, and a release schedule to tie it in with previous books or future ones.

Without spending an entire post breaking down the tiny little details of how the book is published, be safe in the knowledge that the process between being author-owned and traditionally published is remarkably similar, just on a different scale.

When people ask me if I’m self-published or traditionally published, I tell them I’m author-owned, or an author-owned publisher. It’s a concept that has been used by indie music artists and filmmakers for decades. Why not the publishing world?

Are we that caught up in an age-old rivalry between self and trad publishing, that we can’t try something new to see if it catches on? Being author-owned instead of self-published is one way to cut through the rivalry and tell it for what it really is.

You won’t find many self-published authors moaning about traditionally published ones, it’s normally the other way around. Pride can be a terrible thing for authors, it makes them come across as immodest, cocky, and stuck-up.

Yet, being author-owned has a confidence to it that maybe self-publishing has lost over the years, forever linked to a veil of notebook ‘authors’, scammers, and chancers.

Perhaps being author-owned is the way we can finally remove ourselves from the unwarranted stigma of self-publishing, and show the world, that we – the author-owned – work as hard and are as good as any traditional publisher.

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Ben Oakley is a bestselling author, researcher, publisher, blogger, and mental health advocate from Camden, England. Usually found on Twitter or in the bars and parks of Camden. Agathokakological is his favourite word!

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. SamuelH

    September 23, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    I don’t think author-owned will ever take off but appreciate the notion.

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