You’re Writing a Book: Should You Self Publish or Use a Publisher?

In 1993 I decided to develop a small book on writing essays. Since I knew I was only going to print a couple of hundred copies, rather than going to an established publisher, I I decided to publish it myself. Back in those days it was a photocopy, cut and paste effort, but it did sell. Ever since that first effort, I have continued to self publish, and I’ve learned a lot along the way.

Today, many more individuals have taken the plunge to write their own books, their own stories. They’ve done so because it’s so much easier to have a book published. The technology, especially print on demand, has meant that a limited edition print run is within their budget. There are even technologies that can print a single copy for little more than a few cents a page. Think of it: A single copy of a 100 page book for less than ten dollars.

What decision are you going to make? We can assume that you have a book you want published. You have a choice of doing it yourself or using a publisher. What criteria would you use in deciding which to choose? Here are some thoughts.

Publisher Route

If it’s absolutely certain to be a bestseller, you’d probably go to a publisher. They are set up to handle large sales volumes. They will also provide you with publisher services such as an editing your work, cover design and distribution of the end product.

A publisher will do some marketing for you, pay for essay reddit but these days they spend less and less time on this function. Instead, they expect the author to be very proactive in promoting their own work. Unless the author does it, promotion can fall flat.

There is no guarantee that a publisher will take you on. They receive hundreds, even thousands of manuscripts every year. Preference goes to authors who already have a successful track record or are represented by an agent. And then you’ll have to wait. If they take you on today, your book may not appear on bookstore shelves for a couple of years or more. It can be a long, drawn out process.

But remember this. Publishers take the risks involved in publishing your book and distributing it. You pay out very little. As the author, you get paid a royalty. That’s likely to be in the realm of 10% of the wholesale price or 5% of the retail price. These are generalizations but at least they give you a guide.


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