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10 Reasons To Self-publish

You have an idea for a book. Should you self-publish or try to get a deal with a publishing company? It's a very personal decision and there are pros and cons either way.


Although I work professionally as a ghost writer, I have nothing against publishing companies and they do have a lot to offer. If you want to publish fiction, a publishing company may be your best bet. However, for all other projects, especially non-fiction aimed at a small to medium-size market, most people these days prefer the self-publishing option. Here are some of the reasons why.

(1) You can go ahead straight away. Getting a deal with a publishing company can take a very long time — even if you're highly talented. In any case, publishing companies have hundreds of manuscripts to wade through and can only release a limited number of new titles per year. Self-publishing: you can start straight away.

(2) You can move more quickly. Generally speaking, the self-publishing option takes less time. Even the finest and fleetest of publishing companies tend to move at a pace that can sometimes prove frustrating (as several authors have admitted to me). Self-publishing: no delays, no waiting! When I worked with Gilan Gork on his excellent book 'Persuasion Games', we got the job done in about four weeks.

(3) You're enjoying the benefits of today's technology. Once upon a time, few people had the means to print, distribute or sell a book. A publishing company was really your only option. With today's incredible technology, this is no longer the case. Having been a freelance writer most of my life, it has been amazing to witness these technological changes. Self-publishing: you can produce your book and sell it to the world from the comfort of your living room.

(4) You retain control. If you do a deal with a publishing company, you necessarily sacrifice a certain amount of control. This isn't because publishing companies are evil — it's just how the industry works. Several authors have occasionally complained to me about this. For example, one of them disliked the cover design the company had chosen but was told their decision was final and she had no say. Another felt that the 'publicist' they had appointed didn't understand his book and was fixing up interviews that were pointless. He was told that they knew best. Self-publishing: you call the shots. You produce the book you want to produce and promote it the way you want to. As your ghost writer, I will give you all the help you need but you retain control.

(5) A different business model. Suppose you do a deal with a publishing company. They give you a small advance (hurray!) and then pay for the book to be produced and promoted. Once the money comes in, the company recoups all their costs and expenses, including your advance, before you see a penny. This is perfectly fair because, after all, they are a business and not a charity. Of course, you have to trust their accounting. If they say they spent £5000 on publicity, even if you didn't see much activity or benefit, you have to accept their story. Most publishing companies are completely fair about this but I have heard authors complain about 'creative accounting'. Self-publishing: I will show you how to sell your book via direct sales (from your own website) and via the internet. All the revenue comes to you and you're not waiting for anyone else to take their 'cut' before you see the money. Many people prefer this business model.

(6) Faster payments. With a publishing deal, you get your royalty payments a few times a year if you're lucky — all based on the publishing company's accounts. Self-publishing: you get money from direct sales immediately and from global internet sales at the end of every month.

(7) Greater profit per sale. When you work through a publishing company, you only make a tiny amount of money per book sold. This isn't because publishing companies are bad or greedy. It's just how the retail book trade works. Authors such as J.K. Rowling may end up wealthy but they are the incredibly rare exceptions. Most authors with a publishing deal earn just a few pennies from every book sold. Self-publishing: you get almost 100% of the revenue from every sale. It's true you have some costs (e.g. website hosting and fee processing), but you still make much more profit per book sold than you would with a traditional publishing deal.

(8) You can build a relationship with customers. If you go through a publishing company, you have no idea who buys your book. There's no chance to build a mailing list or develop good relationships with the people who like your work. Self-publishing: when you sell via your own website, you know who your customers are and can build a good relationship with them over time.

(9) You're not limited by retail distribution deals. Your publishing company will put your book through whichever retail chains they've done deals with and only those chains. These deals may involve unhelpful details such as 'staggered' release dates in different territories. A friend of mine from South Africa put his book through a publishing company. When it went on sale, it was eight months before it was available (either in shops or online) in the UK, where I live. Why? Because that's how the publishing company's distribution chain worked. Self-publishing: your book is immediately available all over the world.

(10) You can sustain promotion. Even with the best and brightest of intentions, a publishing company can only focus on promoting your book for a limited amount of time. After all, they have other titles to push, other fish to fry. Self-publishing: you can promote your book and build sales indefinitely. There's no time limit. I'll show you how to do this.

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