What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?

A Brief History of Self-Publishing

Self-publishing is the publication of any book/media from the author of the specific work without the involvement of a third-party publisher. The author is responsible for the entire creative process including the design layout, price, format, PR, and distribution. The key characteristic that distinguishes self-publishing from other publishing practices is that the author chooses to have his/her work published independently from a publishing house.

Advantages of Self-Publication

  • One of the biggest advantages is that your work will be published. The result of the self-publication will be a copy of the printed book that you can hold in your hand.
  • You are able to retain all of the rights to your own work. Traditional publishers usually require one to give up the rights to his/her work when in a contract.
  • There are no long-term contracts. You have the freedom to take your work wherever you choose.
  • You have complete creative control over your book. You decide the format, design, price, and distribution.
  • The turn-around time is much shorter for self-publishers. The book is able to be published in as short as a week.
  • You get paid quickly and can receive higher-margins for the book.

Disadvantages of Self-Publication

  • An obvious disadvantage to self-publishing is the overall quality of the work. There is a loss of objectivity when critiquing your own work. An author is too close to the work and could decide to keep sentences, paragraphs, or even full chapters an editor would have recommended cutting.
  • You have to handle most if not all of your marketing. This could become a hassle for some self-publishers.
  • It is very difficult to get shelf-space in a big store like Barnes & Noble unless your name has already been established in the literary world.
  • The author is responsible for the upfront costs. This includes cover design, editing, copies of the book, or a number of other facets. The process of self-publishing can be costly.

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Image source: Lauren Lehtonen

By Lauren Lehtonen, Writing major, Texas Christian University Class of 2012


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