Gilbert P., in response to Self-Publishing Links I Like asked, “What are the advantages of self-publishing?”
Here’s my take on the advantages of both self- and trade publishing.
Total control over the project. When you self-publish a book (or anything else, like videos, music, etc.) you get to control everything, from the writing through book and cover design and the marketing.
This is a mixed blessing. With that control also comes full responsibility. You’ll have to hire an editor – and you’ll need at least a copy editor because none of us proofread our own work well. You’ll also need a cover designer unless you’re also a graphic artists. Once the book is professionally done, you’ll need to do all the marketing – yes, every bit of the marketing. Sure you can hire folks, but you still have to be involved to push your book to success.
The Well-Fed Self-Publisher is really an excellent source of detailed info about self-publishing a book. He also does what I consider the best comparison of trade and self-publishing.
Much higher profit potential. If your book is a success you’ll likely earn much more per copy when you self-publish. As a rule of thumb, trade published books earn the author about $1 per copy.
If you publish your book for $9.95 which is fairly typical for the ebook version, you’ll probably make $3 or $4 a book or more. Paperback books which can cost up to $30 each retail, will often bring the self-published author $8-$15 per book. The potential for bigger bucks is obvious. That does assume, however, you’re able to market the book well – and that’s a huge assumption.
When well done self-published books can increase your authority. When you write and publish a book, even self-publish, in your field, if the book is well done and useful it can go a long way toward increasing your stature there. Just having a book you wrote on your resume makes you look good in many situations. If you’re a speaker, a book for sale in the back of the room can earn you significant money as well as emphasize and amplify your message.
Sometimes leads to a trade publishing contract. Once in a while, a self-published book will lead to an offer to republish from a trade publisher. It’s nice to be asked and there is still some prestige associated with being published by a trade publisher, particularly a well-known one.
Trade publishing advantages
Trade publishers provide needed services. Making a good book is still an art. Publishers will provide at a minimum copy editing, book and cover design and at least minimal marketing. They often will also provide some substantial editing which can make your book better. In some pub houses you’ll get approval rights on design and a final look at the proposed editing, but the publisher is the one who really makes the decisions.
You can make significant money. If your book becomes a legitimate best seller, you can make literally millions. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Unless you’re already famous, and probably even then, you’ll be asked to do a bunch of the marketing even with a trade publisher.
You’ll have the authority and prestige of the publishing house behind you. Because self-publishing is so easy there’s a ton of schlock out there. In theory working with a trade publisher enhances your reputation. It’s worth noting that the distinction is becoming more and more blurred and publisher downsize and self-publishers learn to do a better job.
There is, of course, considerable debate on the advantages and disadvantages of trade and self- publishing. These posts may help:
What’s your opinion of self- and trade publishing?