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  • Writer's pictureSiân Smith

11 reasons why I love self-publishing

1. You don’t have to stick to one genre

One of the most common reasons authors decide to self-publish is because they’ve been told (or they assume) the concept for the book crosses over multiple genres[AS1] . If you’re known for a certain niche (due to your business or personal history), you don’t have to worry about fitting your niche into pre-determined genres or book types set out by a publisher.

With self-publishing, you can bend the rules of what’s expected from certain books. You can push it as far as you like, from blending fiction with memoir to combining hard-hitting facts with graphic novel illustrations… maybe even publishing a cookbook that centres on gender studies!

However, you need to bear in mind how you will market the book once it’s been published. If you’re struggling to summarise the point or concept of the book succinctly (the ‘elevator pitch’) then it’s possibly time to re-think your approach and consider whether you’d be better dividing the concept into more than one book.

A bookshelf with a range of fiction and non-fiction books.
Write your book your way.

2. You’re in full control

While your editor will suggest chapters that may need moving, expanding, or even deleting, YOU have the ultimate decision, rather than a publishing house. This means you can keep tweaking the book cover until you’re completely happy, instead of being persuaded by a marketing department that it’s ‘the right direction’.

I love going back and forth with authors amending chapter headers until the AUTHOR is happy. I’ll make my suggestions, but I know the author needs to have the final say on the matter. Of course, working with professionals ensures you’re not making these decisions blindly, but you remain in control of each decision right up until launch date.

Don’t forget this includes choosing how you market and publicise your book. You won’t be forced to guest on a podcast you can’t stand or attend events you don’t feel align with your book.

3. Flexible deadlines and timetables

Working with an editor, proofreader or typesetter (or any combination of these roles) will provide a schedule which will keep you on track for submitting various rounds of your book, but these schedules can be tailored around you. Whether that’s because you’re working on your book alongside a job/business or you have carer or family responsibilities (or both!).

4. You can choose your team

There is a wonderful community out there dedicated to working with self-publishing authors and many specialise in certain areas or genre. While it’s important not to get overwhelmed by looking up too many editors or writing coaches, you should always ‘interview’ a couple before you commit to working with anyone. Before I even get to the sample edit stage I have a video call with each prospective client so we can both check our approach and personalities align. After this, I conduct a sample edit so you can be sure you like my editing style. (While we all have the same standards of editing when it comes to language, editing is still subjective).

I know I am not the right editor for every single author who gets in touch with me. Sometimes that’s evident from the summary of their book, sometimes editing their sample shows me I can’t get to grips with their particular authorial voice. But there’s always the right team out there for every author and book, so don’t be afraid to move on if it’s not working for you!

A caucasian woman with gold round glasses is smiling and pointing at the camera
You get to work with people like me!

5. Word count doesn't matter (much)

Rather than being told a minimum or maximum word count for your book, you can focus on writing about what you’re passionate about and what’s relevant for your reader and in your industry. So whether you publish a microbook of 20,000 words or a memoir of 90,000 words, the most important thing to do is keep your ideal reader in mind. If they’re the kind of person who wants to know ALL the facts, then make sure you include plenty of references and evidence. If you’re writing for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time or much of an attention span, then you could divide the book into short sections or stick to a smaller word count.

What always matters, however, is whether what you are writing is relevant. It’s far better to write a book of 30,000 words that packs a punch and leaves your reader wanting more than to write 70,000 words full of repetition and isn’t aimed at anyone in particular and is full of repetition. (See what I did there?!)

6. It’s so easy to make amends to your book after publishing

It’s handy to know that if you want to change the book cover or amend a minor formatting error, you can. If you publish via Amazon KDP, you can just upload updated versions of your book. Most local printers have fairly low minimum order quantities, rather than the thousands large publishing houses have to commit to when they launch books, meaning it shouldn’t be long for the current print run to sell out before you can sell the updated version.

Of course, if you’re changing a major chunk of your book, you may consider re-launching the book as a second edition.

7. It can be much quicker than working with a publisher

Did you know it can take YEARS to go from securing a publishing deal to seeing your book on the shelves? There are several, tightly controlled stages your book must go through when working with a publishing house. When you’re self-publishing, it can be just a matter of weeks between reaching the first draft and getting your book into readers’ hands.

On average, however, you should allow between 6 and 9 months to get from first draft to published copy when using a professional self-publishing team. There will be at least a couple of rounds of editing, each taking a few weeks, plus any self-editing you need to conduct. If you decide to take on any aspect of the publishing process yourself, you need to allow time to do them properly. The point is this can be flexible to your book and budget.

8. You own the copyright to your book

Self-publishing means you identify as both the author AND the publisher of the book, meaning you get to own the copyright to your own book. This is particularly handy if you ever want to update your book. If you decide to update your book, you can just do it! You can also reproduce any part of your book in any format you wish, such as on your website, in a magazine article, etc.

The one thing to bear in mind with this is that this works the other way too, so if you include any content you don’t own the copyright for (such as quotes), you will be held responsible and can’t hide behind your publisher. Luckily this is something I keep a keen eye out for when doing your edits.

If you publish with a smaller, independent publisher, what happens to your book if they go out of business?

9. You (potentially) earn way more royalties

The royalties you earn with a publisher will vary, but you definitely retain the greatest portion of royalties if you self-publish.

In fact, technically, there’s no such thing as ‘royalties’ if you self-publish, because you own ALL the rights to your book. If you print a run of books via IngramSpark or an independent printer, you can decide the margin. You’ll need to bear in mind the cost of services you’ve already put into the book (editorial services, book design, printing cost, etc.) and then calculate what margin you need in order to make back those costs to then make a profit. Many self-publishing authors start by keeping things super simple, publishing their book only via Amazon KDP, where you can earn up to 60% of the retail price (as they handle the printing and distribution for you).

Don’t forget you can earn money from your book in other ways than just relying on book sales. There’s potential to earn extra cash by attending any paid-for author events, workshops, or conferences, and every penny you get from them goes in your pocket, no one else’s.

10. Self-publishing celebrates the joy and accomplishment of writing

Speaking frankly, most people dream of getting a publishing deal because of the status and wealth it will provide. But what about just having the chance to show off the victory of writing a whole book? Finishing your book is a huge feat and the victory of holding the bound pages in your hand is one of the great joys of writing.

A child wearing a onesie with spacemen and stars is at a table, writing.
Have you dreamed of publishing a book since you were a kid? Self-publish it!

11. You get to join the indie author community

I’m so proud to be part of the independent author community. The whole sector is now filled with professionals who want to work with self-publishing authors, making the experience as stress-free as possible. It also means the final version of your published book is of the same quality as those produced by publishing houses – but with the added bonus of remaining wholly ‘you’ than it may have ended up otherwise.

Self-publishing is a thriving industry, receiving support and interest from all over the place. From independent bookshops stocking your book, to book fairs dedicated to independent authors. It’s never been a better time to get your story written and published just the way you always dreamed it would be.

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