As the number of books published and sold rises, so does the number of authors who are self-publishing ebooks. But is publishing your own books more advantageous than going with a traditional publisher? Is the extra work of being an indie publisher worth it? Let’s take a look at some pros and cons.
The pros of self-publishing ebooks
- You have complete control over what is in your book, where it is sold, what price it is sold at, and when it goes on promotion.
- You choose your title—and can even change it if it doesn’t end up doing well.
- You get to choose the final cover design, making sure it’s something that actually represents your book well. If you find the cover doesn’t sell, you can always slap on a new one.
- You get the final word on the design of the interior of the ebook and on any images used.
- You can choose the editor of your book, so you’ll know the editor likes the genre you write and is passionate about making your book look good.
- If you don’t agree with a change your editor made, you can simply reject the change without having to justify yourself. (Please, though, while it’s important to trust your gut, it’s also vital to give value to your editor’s changes; they are trained to make books better.)
- Your book won’t be forgotten amidst all the other books that are being published and promoted, which may happen with a traditional publisher, and it won’t take a backseat in promotion to a better known author.
- You can choose promotional tactics that will work best for your book, meaning you’ll get the most sales for the least amount of money.
- There is a large community of authors who are also self-publishing ebooks, and they are happy to help with questions you may have.
- You don’t have to give a cut of your income to the publishing house. You get 100% of the net gain (so, you get the rest after the ebook vendor takes their small percentage).
- You can write in whatever genre you want, including niche genres that publishers may turn down because the audience is too small.
- You’re free to re-brand yourself instead of being told by a publishing house that you need to continue writing the same kind of books.
- Costs of editing, typesetting, and promotion are going down for indie publishers because professionals in these fields recognize the limited budgets of beginning indie authors.
- Self-publishing ebooks is cheaper than ever, and better yet, the demand for ebooks is on the rise.
- You can choose to give your ebook away for free to gain subscribers, without worrying about violating a publishing contract.
- You own all the rights to every form of your book and can utilize all those forms. (For example, a publisher may demand rights to the print, ebook, and audio format of your book but then never actually publish it in audio form.)
- You have copies of the EPUB and MOBI files and can easily make changes, fix typos, or update your ebooks. You can also change back matter, offer a giveaway, and include a sample chapter.
- Dedicated indie authors who publish a dozen or more books usually make more than authors with traditional publishers. (Excepting, of course, those authors who become mega bestsellers. Most mid-list authors with traditional publisher aren’t better-known than indie authors.)
- You can get your book to market much faster than with a traditional publisher, and you don’t waste time with hundreds of query letters.
- You can still make it big as an indie author.
The cons of self-publishing ebooks
- You are responsible for finding and paying editors, a cover designer, a typesetter, and an ebook formatter (or doing it yourself, if you have the skill set).
- All costs for creating and promoting the book are on you.
- You must educate yourself in writing and editing to avoid putting out an inferior product.
- You have to do all the promotion yourself, which is hard work. But keep in mind that traditional publishers are leaving more and more of the promotional efforts to the author, so this isn’t as huge a con as it used to be. Plus, sites like Book Cave can help!
- You may feel lost and alone because of all the hats you must wear. Keep in mind, though, that there are active communities of indie authors out there!
- You don’t have a support team (like an editor from the publishing house or an agent) who is determined to make your book go big.
- Most literary prizes don’t accept indie books.
- There are still some readers who refuse to read indie books.
- There is less assurance of a steady income. If you don’t write multiple books and work steadily at promotions, you may earn very little money. Also, there is no chance of an advance like a publishing house would give you.
- You may have trouble feeling validated as an author.
- While you can get books to market faster, self-publishing will often take you more time as you fill all the different roles. If you aren’t careful, other areas of your life can suffer.
Self-publishing is a great route to take if you’re willing to work hard and learn new skills, and if you have a bit of money saved up before starting out. With self-publishing, you can have some wonderful opportunities and reach success. But it does take a lot of effort. Many authors prefer a publisher to help them along the path (and that’s great!). Others choose a hybrid approach, where they self-publish some books and then publish other books with traditional publishers. Only you can decide what is right for your books.
We hope this blog post has helped you understand the pros and cons of self-publishing ebooks. Do you have any more pros and cons to add? Or any questions? We’d love to hear in the comments below!