Self-Publishing: Why it Works for Me

Self-Publishing: Why it Works for Me

Should an author try self-publishing or publish traditionally? It’s a tough choice. Traditional publishing used to be the only way to get your work in front of the public, but times have changed. Companies like Amazon have made it easier than ever to self-publish your work.

According to Publish Drive, self-publishing accounted for 1.68 million books in 2018 and every year it grows. This year my novel Hollow Edge will join the millions of other self-published books.

10 Popular Self-Published Book

You have doubtlessly read a self-published author without even realizing it. According to UpJourney, these are the top ten self-published books of all time:

  1. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir
  3. Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James
  4. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  5. Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown
  6. The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
  7. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  8. The Joy of Cooking by Irma Rombauer
  9. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  10. The One You Love by Paul Pilkington

Click here to read the entire list of 30 books. Another popular self-published book I love is Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. Traditional publishers picked up most of these books after they developed a following.

Self Publishing Graphic

Publishing Pros and Cons

There are pros and cons to traditional and self-publishing:

Traditional Publishing

Traditional Publishing: when a publisher offers an author a contract to publish, distribute and sell on their behalf by paying the author royalties.

Pros of Traditional Publishing
  • Better access to book reviewers
  • Book advance
  • Connections with the publishing community
  • Established team of editors, designers, etc.
  • Greater reader exposure
  • Increased media attention
  • Literary award connections
  • Organized book distribution
  • Publisher handles all legalities and licensing
  • Publishing costs covered
  • Social Credibility
  • Validation
Cons of Traditional Publishing
  • Competitive market
  • High barrier for new authors
  • Low royalties
  • Minimal marketing
  • No creative control
  • Restrictive contracts
  • Slow process
  • Strict deadlines
  • Steep rejection rates
  • They only work with literary agents

Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing: when an author publishes, markets, distributes, and sells independently at their own expense.

Pros of Self-Publishing
  • 100% Book rights
  • Complete creative control
  • Easier revisions
  • Higher royalties
  • Longer shelf life
  • No rejection
  • Pick your own publishing team
  • Published book guarantee
  • Quicker process
  • Select your own book price
Cons of Self-Publishing
  • Challenging print distribution
  • Chance of no return on investment
  • Less time to write
  • No support system
  • Payout all costs upfront
  • Possibility of making the wrong decisions
  • Risk of picking the wrong team members
  • Self-publishing stigma
  • Stress of running a business

Hybrid Publishing

A third option, hybrid publishing or author-assisted publishing allows for the author to keep creative control but have the resources of a publishing team to help with editing, design, book promotion and distribution. Companies like BookBaby, Draft2Digital and PublishDrive can help with parts or the entire publishing process.

Reedsy is another place where you can choose a team of professionals: editors, designers, publicists, ghostwriters, web designers and marketers. You can pick one or multiple services.

You can also find inexpensive help on websites like Fiverr or Upwork.

My Experience with Self-Publishing

I decided to self-publish for many reasons: a faster process, no rejection, creative control. It has been a crazy adventure with a stiff learning curve.

Writing Group

A quarter of the way through writing my novel Hollow Edge, I met a book editor who introduced me to her writing group the Write Now Club. Through this club, I shared my work, set goals, received feedback, established deadlines and found my beta readers.

We even published a book Nineteen Tales of COVID-19 together to learn about the self-publishing industry.

Related story: Join a Writing Group

Learning on my Own

I voraciously studied self-publishing by visiting hundreds of writing websites such as Reedsy, The Write Practice, Well-Storied, and Become a Writer Today. Writing Excuses and Kindlepreneur are two popular podcasts I listen to.

Courses such as Advanced Novel Writing with Harry Potter, Write Your Book, BookBub Ads that Work, and How to Write a Scene helped me to learn how to become a better writer and marketing strategies. I bought writing software ProWritingAid, Hemingway, Campfire and Scrivener.

Books such as 12 Key Pillars of Novel Construction, How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method, and Plotting Your Novel with the Plot Clock increased my knowledge. I spent all my free time learning everything I could about the industry.

Publishing Team

I built my publishing team, first by hiring a wonderful editor, Jackie Brown, who found a fantastic cover artist. This month I am getting the headshot done for the back of my book.

Cover for Hollow Edge. A young girl demonstrating her powers

The cover for my first book

Online Presence

Social media is fun. I started Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest accounts. So far Instagram is doing the best for me, it’s a great place to connect with other readers and writers. Canva is where I create most of my social media posts; it is a great tool that is easy to use.

I built this website through YouTube videos and a lot of tears. Now I am even training in HTML, CSS and JS code to improve my website.

Funny Face Fiction

Like many self-publishers, I have started a publishing company: Funny Face Fiction. The name comes from a song I used to sing for my parents when I was a child. My family is very musical, and I wanted a name that would mean something.

With Funny Face Fiction, I can buy ISBNs and publish all my books. I have a few other ideas simmering, but I’ll keep them under my hat for now.

Downside

The only downside of self-publishing so far is paying out of pocket for everything, but if/when my book sells, I get to keep all the profits. I also don’t know yet if the decisions I am making are the right ones, but I am thankful for the learning experience if nothing else. Knowledge learned is never wasted.

Final Thoughts

Self-publishing is not for everyone. It is challenging and stressful, but rewarding too. Are you interested in self-publishing? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time

Frankie

Feature image created in Canva