9 reasons why you should self-publish

Many of you will know that I am considering self-publishing my novels. It’s not something that I’ve considered lightly as I know going it alone is not easy and there’s still a fair bit of stigma attached to self-publishing. However, I really do believe the benefits far outweigh the negatives.

I compiled the list below mainly as a way to convince myself that self-publishing is a wonderful idea. While most authors (like me) secretly want to be published by one of the big, well-known publishing houses, there are so many reasons why it’s a good idea to self-publish – nine to be exact (but that’s only because I was restricted by the cats.)

1. Social media is freaking awesome

Social media can be a gold mine for authors, especially those who are planning to self-publish. There are plenty of opportunities to reach out and develop friendships with other writers. The connections you make online will provide an invaluable support network through all the phases of getting your book/s ready for publication.

While you may know of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube, did you know there are also countless other forums and online writing communities just waiting to be tapped into?

A few of my favourites:

The very reason I created my blog, The Cat’s Write, was because I wanted to make friends and learn more about self-publishing. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without you guys.

cat-pat

2. Editing is easier than ever (you don’t have to do it alone!)

A necessary step before publishing your book is finding a good editor or editing service. I can’t even list how many indie authors have told me that I “need to have my novel edited professionally if I’m to even consider self-publishing”.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out this great list of recommended editors by Joanna Penn, where you’ll find links for editing services that specialise in both American and British/Australian English.

I’m considering going with Hot Tree Editing for a simple copy & line editing package. However, if you find you can’t afford a professional editor, there’s always programs like Grammarly out there, which has an awesome free version that I use before I send my work out to my beta readers.

cta eating paper
3. Book cover designers are affordable

If you’re on a budget, it’s easier now more than ever to find talented book cover designers who can create visually stunning covers like the pros – but at reasonable prices. Joanna Penn has a fabulous list of book cover designers ready and waiting for you to fawn over. Or you can head over to my own choice, The Cover Collection, who have unique, pre-made ebook covers available for around $100AUD.

Can’t afford a designer? Look no further than Canva.com, which is a rapidly growing website that can help you create your own graphics and book covers for free. For graphics, there are plenty of royalty free sites like Pixabay.com offering a wide range of visually pleasing images. But before you get started, don’t forget to check out this great article on cover design secrets by self-help author Derek Murphy.

giphy

 

4. P.O.D makes for a level playing field

P.O.D (Print on Demand) has revolutionised how indie authors can get their books into the hands of potential readers.

Some of the bigger and well-known P.O.D services include:

Before P.O.D you would have to pay large sums of money to print off thousands of copies of your book and find somewhere to store them. But now, when readers buy your book online, the P.O.D publisher will print the book as the orders come in. These books will then be sent directly to the readers.

cat book.gif

5. Marketing is doable 

Even though some writers want to run at the sight of the word ‘marketing’ (that would include me), indie book promotion is something that can be done without relying on a publisher to do it for you.

Whether you use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Goodreads, there are plenty of ways to stir up awareness of your book online:

  • Blog about your book progress and develop a following
  • Get in contact with your local writer’s centre for support
  • Organise a book signing at your local library or bookstore
  • Tweet quotes or excerpts from your book in twitter events such as #1linewed
  • If possible, plan a book giveaway and promote to your social media pages
  • Feature other authors/writers on your blog – they may just return the favour!

Another good marketing hack is to create an email newsletter and catch readers who have bought your book before. It is these readers who may then be interested in buying more books by you, especially if you are looking to write a sequel. A book series can be a great way to hook readers in and snowball the number of sales for each consecutive book.

cat snow jump.gif

6. Enjoy the freedom of being your own publisher

In the last few years, even established, well-known authors are choosing to go indie. So why exactly are these traditionally published authors ditching their publishers and ‘going it alone’ despite the stigma and insane amount of effort required

Author D. Wallace Peach decided to cancel all of her traditional contracts and go indie with all her books. Peach stated that:

there are huge advantages to having control over your content, covers, pricing and promotions’ and that she was ‘able to fix typos, get new covers, and promote.’ Interestingly, Peach added that her ‘sales are, without exaggeration, 50 times higher.

One of the biggest benefits to having control as a self-publisher is that you don’t need to chase the market. Write what you want, when you want. Love writing vampire love stories? Go right ahead and publish them!

cat vampire.gif

7. Take control of your earnings

Not only will you be getting a higher percentage of royalties as a self-published author, but you can also:

  • decide on the price of your work
  • decide when to put your books on sale
  • keep track of your earnings and
  • analyse your own sale data.

Worried that self-published books don’t hold a strong market position? In this article, author David Gaughran highlighted the fact that online sales figures from Kindle and other platforms were showing that 25% of the US e-book market was being captured by self-published authors. This number will only increase as more authors turn to self-publishing.

rich-cat

8. The indie book reputation isn’t as bad as you think

A few years ago one of my novels was signed by a small publisher in the US. Whenever my friends asked me ‘who is your publisher?” I would proudly reply, “a small traditional publisher in the US.” Emphasis on the word traditional. I’m embarrassed to say that I was completely blinded by pride – until they went bankrupt one month later.

It’s no surprise that one of the biggest deterrents to self-publishing is the stigma that’s attached, which is probably due in large part to the closely linked ‘vanity’ presses. Vanity publishers, sometimes disguised as an Online Subsidy Publisher, require authors to pay expensive fees to use their services and often involves a sketchy editing process and hidden contract terms that take possession of your copyright.

Before accepting a contract with anyone, always check these resources:

Now that established authors are moving over to the indie book market, self-publishing is gradually separating itself from the bad stigma of vanity presses and carving its own unique identity.

embarrassed cat

9. When God closes a door, he opens a window

Not only are self-published books becoming best sellers – hello there Fifty Shades of Grey, but they are getting movie deals too! No doubt you’ve heard of the movie The Martian, which is based on a book that was originally self-published. My mind was absolutely blown when I learned that.

There are many cynics out there who will tell you that any self-publishing success stories are the exception, not the rule. While it’s true that self-publishing is not for the faint of heart, if you’re realistic and put in the hard work, a window may just open…

flyingcat

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114 thoughts

  1. I tell ya, getting your self published book out is awesome – but it sure is work getting name out. That is what I am doing right now. Heart has to be there (with time, as well) Patience and hard work…and prayer. A conference last weekend gave me such a boost. Still hard but…I’m ready. — sort of 😉

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  2. Great article for those starting out, but from someone who’s been doing this for four years now and learned plenty of things the hard way (and the expensive way), I’d like to add my two cents to try and save any budding indies a little heartache later. Regarding doing your own covers, while this CAN be done, it is not WISE to do it. Unless you are a graphic designer by trade, and especially if you are a book cover designer by trade, then by all means, do the cover yourself. But if you aren’t, do NOT! Amateur covers can be spotted a mile away and do NOT sell as well as professionally designed ones. The competition is just TOO great once you get your book into the marketplace (on Amazon, Smashwords, or what-have-you). Chances are, after finally realizing how much better your book could look, you will ultimately decide to redo your covers (I did) and then must go thru the headache a few years into it, of finding a designer, paying for it, reuploading cover files, (maybe for a whole series of books, like I did! 🙂 going thru the whole process of approval by the POD company again, having to rebrand your web site, blog, twitter and facebook pages, etc. Just do it right the first time – always use a professional editor and a professional cover designer. They are not that expensive ($200-$400 or so if you look around and ask around). After all, the cover is the FIRST AND FOREMOST thing that will bring eyes on your book. If you lose the customer before you even get them to try your book because the cover isn’t up to snuff with other books that you’re competing with, then you’ve wasted all that writing talent/time/money/marketing on nothing and have to start almost from scratch. Go the extra mile the first time around – it will pay off tenfold later on! Cheers 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thank you! Reading this has helped me greatly and given me encouragement. I plan to self publish and soon. The links you provided are helpful, especially with finding a professional editor. I will be looking for one in the next month or so. How is the one that you picked out working for you?

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It’s a no-brainer. Traditional publishing is a dinosaur in its death throes. The last big five publishing houses will soon collapse and crush their gatekeepers under the rubble.

    Indie publishing is the Wild West of publishing. Cowboy up and join the future!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Great post. Number 1 is what kills self-publishing for me. Social media can be great, if you’re good at it. Otherwise it’s a nightmare. And self-publishing success seems mostly dependent on your SM presence. If you don’t have thousands of followers and good SM game, your not going to sell anything. At least that’s been my experience. The one book I self-published on Amazon has received no sales besides those that I know came from my SM and direct communications. In practical sense, the book doesn’t really exist on Amazon. It will not come up in searches unless someone searches by full title, and it will never appear in those “people who bought this also liked” sections because those are actually ads that you have to either pay to run, or be on KDP Select to get access to. No social media = no sales. And even at a thousand followers, you have to expect that only a handful will probably shell out for the book. Nope, working with publishers who have more resources that me, that’s still my plan. But I think YOU can do the self-publishing thing well, Milly. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You made some really interesting points! I think that’s why so many aspiring indie authors start up blogs years in advance to get a following, find friends, access a community etc… all before they start selling their books. I was lucky that I started a blog years ago to find indie author friends first, then I realised it could be a really handy tool to find some readers later on. Thank you for having such faith in me! It’s nice to hear that when sometimes you begin to even doubt yourself. What’s the link to your book by the way? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tried self-publishing but truly suck at the whole marketing thing.

    My story is what can go wrong if self-publishing isn’t researched well enough. Twenty-twenty.

    Got my book through the formatting and cover design stuff, but tried marketing a little not knowing what I was doing.

    Then I tried not to list anything without an iota of success. So now there’s an unavailable book listed under my name on Amazon. Trying to remove it now.

    I wish you the best in this endeavor.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah I think marketing is going to be tough. I’ve been doing some research and there is some really great ideas out there. I’ve noticed a few resources saying you shouldn’t rely on your blog as your sole means of marketing – which kinda sucks because I was gonna rely on blog to get me over the line (a.k.a to sell even the 1 book). So it’s back to the drawing board to come up with some strategies!

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  7. Boy, I wish you and this had been around a few years back when I accepted a publishing contract from an Indie Publisher that ripped me to pieces; emotionally and financially. It was a tough time and for awhile, after all the legal stuff, it broke my confidence in writing. This year, I’m finally getting back on the horse and writing again, even meeting with an editor this weekend to chat but I’ve learned some lessons along the way and I plan on keeping control of my project and an eye on my money. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh no sorry to hear this! I got ripped to shreds by a small publisher too – luckily the contracts weren’t signed so I didn’t suffer any financial repurcussions – thank god! Looks like we both went through a pretty steep learning curve – can really knock your confidence. Took me a long time before I was no longer angry and could write again!

      Hope everything is going well for you now 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s such a shame how many people end up getting screwed, like we did. It’s discouraging and I can’t imagine the number of people who gave up. I still write but it took me a few years to get back into it. Now, if I could get the courage back to submitting work; I’d be golden.

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  8. Hello Milly! Thank you for sharing your insights about self-publishing 🙂 I had no idea that The Martian was self-published- that blew my mind as well.
    As a newbie writer, I am very intimidated by self-publishing (and publishing in general) however I am inspired by your post. I look forward to hearing more updates about your novel 🙂

    Like

    1. Thanks Sophie! I think the more I talk about self-publishing, the less nervous I get! Which is why I keep sharing these posts with you all. I’ll will definitely be keeping you all posted on my progress – and good luck in your writing!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. As usual an informative and entertaining post. Thank you! First i have to figure out how to write a book that people will want to read. Before that I want to reach 100 blog posts and scale that back but write for the book the other 3-4 days a week. There’s also finding 100 followers of the blog, which is happening faster than I thought but because I’m following your advice to engage which is taking alot of writing time. How people do it with full-time jobs I’ll never know. Anyway, I’m sending this to my mother the cat lady just for the gifs. And, go for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Absolutely agree with all of this. I get all my self publishing information over at the reddit page, r/selfpublish and it’s just about got every single detail to the whole experience. There’s also some awesome podcasts about it!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Yes, there are many advantages to self /indie publishing. It’s just that one must be prepared to spend an abundant amount of time promoting and marketing, developing a presence and brand, which robs writing time.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Go for it, Milly!
    I self-published Restoration Day (POD paperbacks via IngramSpark aka LightningSource, available everywhere; and ebooks created by my husband, available via Givealittle;) and I don’t regret the decision to bypass traditional publishing.
    Yes, self-publishing is hard; yes, there’s a lot to learn; but as you have already noticed, there are plenty of people who have been this way before and are very generous with their hard-earned wisdom (e.g. Joanna Penn, David Gaughran…).
    That’s one of the things I like about self-publishing: not only do you have more control, but you’re surrounded by friendly helpful people 🙂
    Good luck to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I recently self-published my first book. There was so much to learn. When I first decided to publish, I had no idea where to even begin. It took hours of research along with many mistakes and hurdles to finish my book. I suspect it’ll be easier the second time around. Fingers crossed.

    I did set up a goodreads account as you’ve mentioned in your post. I love it there. I can offer my own book while keeping the books I want to read in one place. I come across so many books that I’d like to read by fellow indie authors, but I’ve never had a way of keeping track until now. When I see a book that interests me, I can now look for it on goodreads and add it to my shelf. What’s not to love. 🙂

    I used canva.com for my cover which you’ve also mentioned in your post. I loved it, and will definitely be using it for my next project as well.

    All that to say how much I appreciated and enjoyed your post. I’ll also be checking out some other links included in your post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve seen a lot of authors build an audience on free posting sites like Wattpad and TheNextBigWriter. It’s brilliant. You let people read some of the book or all of the book then when they’re in love and want it BAM, you publish it and they will purchase it. Possibly even ache for the next installment.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. If you had more GIF’s, there could be more reasons. 🙂 I’m self-published and it is a heap of work, but it’s truly worth it. Would I consider ‘traditional” publishing? I honestly don’t know. It’s like handing over the keys to your car and not knowing if they are going to polish it, sell it or wreck it.
    A friend sold her IP rights away for next-to-nothing and hated the book cover they used (so did I. Shhh)
    I can tell you this- it was a feeling like none I had ever experienced, receiving my first printed book. You can do this, Milly.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Yes to all of these! While I am still looking/hoping for an agent, at the same time, I am wondering what cover I want for my next book. I fear getting an agent and losing the control that I’ve had over my other books. Particularly in the cover department. I’ve got so many little peeves when it comes to covers, I don’t like the idea of someone else captaining my cook cover.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. There are so many avenues open to the self-pubbed author that you wouldn’t have under a traditional contract unless you’re very careful in the distribution rights.
    I’m talking about multi-author collaborations such as boxed sets and branded worlds, audio and foreign markets, to name a few.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’ve been tempted a few times. My published books have not exactly fared brilliantly, I must admit, any better than if I had self-published. Possibly for the next one (I published the last with a different company, so fingers crossed it breaks the trend).

    Liked by 2 people

  18. These GIFs are killing me. I love it.

    This was an interesting read. I am nowhere near done writing my book yet, but these will be things I will obviously have to consider at some point. (I have no idea how any of this works!) I’ll be saving this for future reference.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great article that covers a lot of ground. I self-publish, so I do pretty much everything myself; but I’ve heard several traditionally published indie authors say they were surprised to find out that even with a traditional publisher, they were expected to do a lot of the marketing for their own books, particularly if the publisher is small, since they were *not* a celebrity name that could sell itself. I think a lot of indie authors have a misconception that if you get a traditional contract, the publisher will handle all the marketing for you. But based on what I’ve heard, being a salesman is part of being an author, regardless of whether you self-publish or take the traditional route. … Just throwing that out there as food for thought if anyone is on the fence about self-publishing due to beliefs that a publisher will take care of marketing for you. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So spot on. In the states, the new thing is “vanity publishers” or “vanity presses.” They send out questionnaires, asking how many followers you have on different social media avenues, how do you plan to market the book, etc. They act as though they are taking a chance on you and offer you nothing. However, if the book does become successful…they still own the rights.
      Basically, you are still doing the legwork and receiving lower royalties. Thank you? Hahaha. So many people preying on the dreams of others. I’ll just be over here succeeding or failing on my own.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So many people have fallen into the vanity press trap! I almost got trapped once too by a ‘small publisher’ that was pretty much a scam due to the red flags I noticed in the contract (lifetime copyright etc…) I was a law student at the time so I knew how bad the contract was, but thought it was my only chance to get my ‘foot in the door’ of the publishing industry. I will never again sell myself (or my work), short!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. People are still preying on the dreams of others. Unfortunately, many people sell their intellectual property for next to nothing. I’ve known people who had their books purchased, just so it could be killed. It was too closely related to another book the publisher was representing. At least you will always know your motives! 🙂

          Like

  20. Good article, and love the kitty gifs 😀

    My writer’s group has been discussing self-publishing lately, and they would probably benefit from reading this one since a few of them are pretty unfamiliar with how it works. I’ve contemplated self-publishing poetry and short-stories but not something longer. I had no idea The Martian was self-published :O

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Oh I wish I had a writer’s group! Although I suppose this online community IS my writer’s group of sorts lol. I love telling non-writer friends that The Martian movie was originally from a self-published book – the looks on their faces!!

      Like

  21. https://hlsailer.wordpress.com/2018/02/12/book-2/

    This blogger put her book on InkItt in a publishing contest. Free publishing deal to winner or something like that. I wanted to share it with you because: She’s a great writer, and 2, perhaps you were unaware of this option. Just’ sayin’ You may want to interact with HLSailer for more info…and of course, check out her work on InkItt. I’m not promoting here, I’m sharing information. George F out!

    Liked by 1 person

  22. As someone who grew up in the ’90s, whenever I hear a young writer say “publishing is harder than ever now,” I die a little.

    I’m currently attending college for an English degree, and yes, people do say this!! It blows my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s crazy! I had an indie author, Ken Harrison, write a guest post the other day on publishing in the 90s – it really sounds like it was ten times harder back then without the easy access of the internet! To think young writers are saying it’s hard – just wow lol!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Super helpful article! I’m new to the publishing world and have little to no knowledge. P.O.D is something I’ve never heard of, but is awesome to hear exists! One thing I want is a physical copy of a book. I had always thought self-publishing meant digital. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks! My fiction stuff is on the C. M. B. Bell fiction blog. My cell phone novel Hollandus Landing is for free or by tipping on Noisetrade while 3 other books are on traditional ebook platforms.

            Like

  24. You’ve got so many great resources in this post. I do think that despite the stigma still attached to self-publishing, we as individual writers can prove our worth by maintaining high standards and seeking outside support, like good editors. I hope you have fun with the process. having the option is a gift, after all.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I’ve been torn on this very topic ever since I wrote a book. I’d love to be “big company published” but every time I look into it it feels it reads as such:
    What you’ll need to do is get a membership to a club who doesn’t allow members without a sponsor, to find a sponsor you’ll need to find a club that is recognized as having viable sponsors. These clubs would rather you not contact them, so we can’t tell you who they are. After that, allow between 6 weeks and 8 years for them to decide if your dreams are a joke. Buy plenty if Kleenex because you’ll be crying yourself to sleep on the regular. Also, bring a big bag of money, it always helps to be independently wealthy.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. My friend was just telling me about the Martian, because I am thinking about self publishing too. I’m sure you can do it girl! Also, I nominated you for the Blogging Blogger award. (My own stupid award that nominates my blogging crushes) And your one of them!

    Liked by 2 people

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