Amazon KDP officially launched in 2007, and independent (indie) authors have been successfully publishing their own books ever since. More platforms have followed suit too. The traditional publishing model is no longer the only option available if you want to become an author. You can simply choose to become one and that is SO exciting! However, as with most decisions, there are pros and cons to consider. This blog outlines 5 pros and 5 cons of self publishing!
Pros of Self Publishing:
Of course, the best thing about self publishing is the autonomy – YOU, as the author AND publisher, have the right to decide everything! This includes: when to publish, how often to publish, what genre(s) to write in, what platforms to publish on, and who to work with to create the best version of your book(s) that you possibly can (beta readers, editor, formatter, proofreader, cover designer, ARC readers etc.).
2) Set your own deadlines/timeframes
With that autonomy comes the option to set your own schedule. Traditional authors are often ‘a book a year’ authors (sometimes two books per year) because of publishers’ long lead times (due to the volume of books they publish) and their own in-house schedules and processes. But as an indie author, you are free to plan your own publishing schedule, as soon or as far ahead as you want. You are also free to change that schedule if and when necessary without any (or minimal) knock-on effects (except if you already have editors, formatters, cover designers booked in, or a book on pre-order).
3) No barrier to entry
If you decide to self publish your book(s), there is no querying, no waiting and no manifesting involved! No hoping for an agent or editor or publisher to offer you a book deal. There’s just taking control of our own author career and publishing whenever you and your book(s) are ready!
4) Supportive community
The indie author community is amazing! Some of the inspirational ‘rockstars’ who have had (and continue to have) incredible success include: Mark Dawson, Joanna Penn, L.J. Ross, Suzy K Quinn, A.P. Beswick, Rachel Abbott and Amy Daws, to name just a few. And a lot of these authors have gone on to create incredible communities, offering free content, such as Facebook groups and podcasts, as well as paid courses to help you progress in your author career.
Below are examples of those communities, podcasts and resources that I personally highly recommend!
20BooksTo50K® (Facebook group)
Starting from Zero by David Gaughran
Successful Self Publishing by Joanna Penn
The Self Publishing Blueprint by Daniel Willcocks
Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
The Crime Novel Planner by C. L. Jennison
5) Majority of royalties
Another big draw of being an indie author is that you get to keep the majority of your royalties (a bigger percentage than traditionally published authors receive). However, be prepared to become obsessed with your sales dashboard(s)!
Cons of Self Publishing:
1) Steep learning curve
As a self published author, I can confirm that there is an extremely steep learning curve when it comes to self publishing! Being in charge of everything is a double edged sword because it means you are also responsible for everything. While that may not include doing every single element yourself (such as designing your book cover), it will still include coordinating the elements yourself (such as finding a book designer and researching what other book covers in your genre look like so you can brief your cover designer properly). Writing and publishing your own book is a long process made up of many stages and each stage has to be given due consideration.
Without external deadlines, it’s easy to procrastinate actually writing the book! I know authors who have been working on their debut novels for YEARS. Therefore, it’s often best to lock in some deadlines, if you can.
A few ways to motivate yourself/hold yourself accountable include:
- Publicly announce that you are writing/have written a book and when you plan to publish it (a specific date!).
- Put your book on pre-order. You can do this as much as a year in advance on Amazon. Beware though – if you miss your pre-order deadline you will be penalised!
- Plan something special for yourself when you’ve finished different stages of the book e.g. first draft done = a day/night/weekend spent doing one (or a few) of your favourite things.
3) Upfront costs
If you want to produce a high quality book (that stands up well against its comparable titles), there are upfront costs involved in self publishing. Editing and cover design really need to be outsourced to professionals. Perhaps formatting too, unless you’re familiar with formatting software such as Vellum and can do it yourself. And proofreading, if you can afford it. These are services that would be provided by a publisher if your book was being traditionally published, but as YOU are the publisher, you will need to invest in these services yourself. Prices do vary (and quality can be compromised with the very cheap options) but it’s important to factor these costs into your book production budget.
A few possible ways to save money on these services include:
- Skill swapping with a professional editor (if that’s a viable option).
- Buying a pre-made or discounted book cover rather than commissioning a brand new one.
- Using software such as ProWritingAid or Grammarly to clean up your manuscript as much as possible.
- Taking advantage of free trials/resources, as offered by Scrivener and/or Reedsy Book Editor.
- Asking family/friends for editing and/or formatting gift vouchers that you can redeem when you’re ready (hint, hint!).
Many indie authors feel that marketing a book is even harder than writing a book! However, there’s a lot of help out there to help you understand how to market your book effectively. Rather than scouring the entire internet, start with the list below!
FREE help to take advantage of:
Mixtus Media’s marketing downloads
Bryan Cohen’s 5-Day Author Ad Profit Challenge
Dave Chesson’s Book Marketing Tips & Tricks
David Gaughran’s Facebook Ads for Authors
Because the indie author community is such a vibrant, friendly community, people freely share their successes. And rightly so – as authors, we should be proud of our wins! However, it’s easy to see the successes that some authors post about and negatively compare your own progress to theirs, even when you’re at a completely different stage in your author career. Seeing and hearing about successes that you want for yourself can feel incredibly frustrating, confusing and demoralising, even when you know deep down that a successful author career is dependent on SO many variable factors. Plus, the very definition of success is different for everyone, so while some authors may chase bestseller status and/or making enough money to leave their day jobs, others are happy with a handful of sales! Thankfully, in the indie author community, there are plenty of people who are willing to share their struggles too, so please don’t ever feel you are alone!
If you’ve found ‘5 Pros and 5 Cons of Self Publishing’ helpful, please feel free to share this post on social media. And if you’re planning to self publish your new/next novel and need an experienced and professional editor and/or formatter to make sure it’s in the best shape possible, get in touch to book your slot or ask any questions!