This is probably the most accessible route to publication. Instead of publishers, it will be you paying for your book’s publication. In return, you keep 100% of the rights to your materials, reap majority of the royalties (at least 80%), and have a lot more creative freedom. Normally, a publisher would be the one to tell you what you can and can’t (or strongly shouldn’t) keep in terms of your manuscript’s content.

Well-known authors who have self-published include the ever-popular Colleen Hoover (author of It Ends With Us romance series), E.L. James (author of 50 Shades of Grey), and Rupi Kaur (author of Milk and Honey).

How It Works

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Ideally, you would follow a very similar process to traditional publishers: Editing > Design > Production > Marketing > Distribution.

I will say, you’ll want to spend as much time as you can on the editing piece as many self-published authors tend to have numerous mistakes and awkwardness in their grammar, writing style, voice, etc. If you’re unsure of whether or not you need additional manuscript support, you can always take a look at this Editing Types graphic here.

Pros & Cons

I think it’s important to summarize self-publishing by outlining what its benefits and disadvantages are, so I’ve listed these below:

PROS

Creative Freedom: You get total creative freedom and flexibility with your work (traditional publishers will generally strongly suggest what to keep and cut).

Highest Royalties: You’ll get to reap majority of the royalties (~80% minimum), meaning you keep most of the profit from book sales. Amazon will take a small cut if you publish through them, as well as any other teams or agencies you work with to help you self-publish (sometimes they take a cut, sometimes it’s a flat fee – ultimately depends on their business model).

Fastest Timeline: You significantly decrease your publishing timeline if you self-publish. (Larger traditional presses can take a year or two to get you published.)

Retain ALL Rights: You can expect to keep 100% of the rights to your book since you have independently published it. Your book is bought by the publisher in a traditional book deal, which is why there is such a thing as advances and royalties in that case.

CONS

Highest Cost: It is a huge time and financial investment to self-publish your work. There is no guarantee that you will earn back your return on investment (ROI), meaning it is likely you will be operating at a financial deficit.

Full Responsibility: You are responsible for all costs, legalities, permissions, uploads, registrations, etc. that your book requires. For example, every published book needs an ISBN number (i.e. the 978 barcode on the back of all books) that costs $125 USD.

Minimal Placements: Do not expect your book to be in brick-and-mortar stores, unless you are willing to sell it to local booksellers on consignment (AKA: you give them 10 copies as a trial to see how well they sell; if they sell well, they get a cut of the royalties).

Minimal Trade Reviews: If you want to get your book professionally reviewed in trade magazines like Kirkus or PublishersWeekly, they offer slots for reviews, but they’re rarely read by bookstores, libraries, etc. As a result, they generally don’t garner any mainstream attention.

Other Resources


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