Why Self-Publish Instead of Using a Conventional Publisher

Guest Post by Richard McMunn from How2become.com

The world of book publishing has evolved over the past few decades so much so that a publishing expert 20 years ago would struggle to get an entry level job in today’s market with their skill set from that time. There are varying opinions in the industry on some pivotal elements but one thing is certain, the accessibility for individuals to self-publish is more open and transparent than it has ever been. The question that then remains is whether this is a good thing or not, and if so, who is it good for?


The first immediate benefit of self-publishing is the cost. The finance needed to print a book even before factoring marketing and distribution costs is an element that, in the past, would have stopped many publishing projects from even getting off the ground. In self-publishing online this factor is immediately removed along with all the type setting and other old fashioned pre-printing set up costs.

Looking further down the line, when an author chooses to self-publish, they can reap the added reward of lower commission costs from eventual profits. It is unfair to say that publishers and book distributors do not earn the fees that they take for their services but in a world where many of their functions can be self-managed, it is of great encouragement to authors of all kinds that they will take home a much larger percentage of the fruits of their work.

Ownership and control

This is an issue that only becomes relevant at the point that a manuscript goes from completed work to successful product. Nevertheless, the ongoing battle between publishers and authors over how a successful book should be followed up is ever present. Whether it be the nature and style of a sequel, the optioning rights for screen production or even the distribution in translated format to other countries, when an author has complete control and ownership of their work, they can be sure that financial pressure will not force them to do something they are not comfortable with.

Even before this issue becomes apparent, there is a very real element of control in the initial creative process. Once a book is commissioned in the traditional manner, authors are committed to adhering to and meeting the deadlines set by publishers. Works can be rushed, rewritten or even scrapped at the decision of the house that has financed the work. In self-publishing a writer is able to work at their own pace and is only pressured by their own self-motivated desire to complete.

The marketing process

Advertising is an expensive area in all commercial markets. Although a publishing house will often cover the cost of such a function, it will all eventually come out of the profits that a book generates. This is a difficult thing to accept, especially in the cases where there is no real evidence that larger spends on marketing have been directly influential in the increased circulation of a book.

When self-publishing, particularly through an online format like Amazon, an author is in complete control of where their work is promoted, how much is spent on marketing it, and perhaps of most pertinent importance, in what shape the marketing takes form. The notion of selling out to a concept that devalues a work simply to boost sales does not have to be swallowed when the writer is completely overseeing every decision along the way. Some may choose to take this step, but those who don’t want to, quite simply don’t have to.

The future

As the field of book publishing evolves at an increasingly quick rate, so too the expertise needed to be successful in the field changes. It is important to stay ahead of the game, or at least, to stay abreast with what is going on. Many experts and opinion makers are already talking about a day when self-publishing is the accepted norm over the use of a contracted publisher. It follows that there is immense benefit in getting a grip on this function now, before publishers become so few in number that the possibility of finding one who will accept a manuscript is unimaginably slim.

Richard McMunn is a writer for How2become; a leading career and recruitment specialist for public sector careers. For the last 8 years How2become has helped numerous people prepare for and pass tough recruitment processes and assessment centres in order to secure their dream job. You can also connect with How2become on Google Plus.


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