The act of self-publishing novels has grown astronomically over the years as more writers want to get their work out there without having to rely on traditional publishers, or simply struggle to get their attention. Many writers ask themselves the question, “Should I self-publish my book?” You will want to consider many things before answering that question. Here are some pros and cons to self-publishing.
Your book is on the market quickly
By self-publishing, you determine when it is published, and depending on the platform used, it can even be published immediately. Traditional publishers can take months or even years to get your work out there, which can be a long and hard wait. Self-publishing quickly gives you the feeling of accomplishment that you want and deserve. There are few things more amazing than seeing your work out in the world.
You have full control over your work
When you self-publish, you decide what gets published. Every word is under your control, and you can create whatever title and cover art you want. The book is entirely you, and that is a powerful feeling. Traditional publishers often employ their own editors and book designers and may or may not take your opinions into account. And depending on what decisions those publishers make, it may not entirely fit your vision of what your novel should be.
No pain from rejection letters
One of the hardest things about being a writer is being told that what you have created isn’t good enough. And when publisher after publisher tells you this, it can be a huge hit on your self-confidence. Having self-confidence as a writer is crucial, and when that starts to diminish, so does your writing and your passion for it. By going out on your own, no one can deny you that path to publication.
Marketing is entirely your responsibility
Once your book is self-published, how is the world going to know about it? You have to market it on your own using your own time and your own money. Traditional print advertisements are costly, so you may only have the power of word of mouth and social media to get noticed. And be cautious: posting relentlessly on social media can seem spammy, possibly turning away readers rather than gaining them. When a traditional publisher shares it regularly on their social media or any advertisements, people are more accepting of the information.
The cost of professional services comes out of your pocket
Hiring professional book designers, formatters, and editors is an expensive necessity. Though self-publishing gives you full control and you can do whatever you want, doing so without the eye of professionals could be detrimental. Traditional publishers take care of these things for you, and they will take the heat of readers pointing out any editorial or formatting issues. By self-publishing, those criticisms about typos or messed up formatting fall entirely on you.
Negative reviews can hurt more than rejection letters
If you’ve published on your own and have done an excellent job of marketing, you’ll start selling books and getting those much-needed reviews that boost your rankings online. But if you have done all of this without the help of any publishing professionals, the possibility of negative reviews is higher. This is not to say that writers cannot be excellent self-editors and book designers, but writers should also not consider themselves to automatically be good at such things. Editing, whether developmental or copyediting, lowers that possibility of negative reviews by working with you to remove the issues readers may have.
So, what is the answer? In my professional opinion, if you are good at marketing and are willing to first invest in making your book the best it can be, self-publishing is an excellent avenue to pursue. But if you don’t feel you can market well or can’t invest in professional services, it may be worthwhile to keep plugging away at the traditional publishers to give you that boost you need. But either way, continue to hone your writing craft so that you are successful no matter which path you choose.