Should You Self-Publish or Commercially Publish?

Should You Self-Publish or Commercially Publish Your First Book?

You may have written your first book. The first thought that might come to your mind whenever you are about to write is whether you should publish the book on your own and watch how it performs. You may also contemplate about whether you should approach a few publishers and agents or not. Perhaps, you think it might be a good idea if you get in touch with some publishers and agents and if that does not work out, go for self-publishing.

  • So what would be your way forward?: A very important question that you should ask yourself at this juncture is whether the subject of your book has a national or broad appeal or is it on a topic that you are passionate about or expertise in. If you want to attract one of the traditional publishers, particularly a reputed one, you must have a book that caters to an already established genre and possess mass or commercial appeal. In case, your book is on a specialized topic, you can approach a publisher who is known in the market to specialize in that subject. Alternatively, you can simply decide to self-publish your work. If the book is written on a topic that you are highly passionate about, you might directly go for self-publishing.
  • What is the extent of control you desire to have on the process of publishing?: If you take a conventional way, you would have hired an agent who would definitely want that you edit your book prior to submission. Hopefully, you would also have a publisher who might ask you to do a revision of your work. You might not get approval for your cover and at times you might have only mutual consent on the title of your book. It means that, in case the publisher does not approve of the original title, you might have to reconsider it and arrive at one that can be agreed upon with the publisher. There might be limited control as far as the how the marketing of your book is conducted. When you approach a traditional publisher, you have to cede control on your book to some extent. However, it could be a great thing as you would be interacting with experts in the publishing industry who have years of experience behind them. Though, it is quite natural that you might sometimes get frustrated with some of those decisions that you do not really approve. On the other hand, while self-publishing the book, the entire control is vested upon you right from cover, edits, marketing, and title. Deciding whether you want to approach a traditional publisher or self-publish the book may not be alternative decisions always. You can approach some traditional publishers first, and it does not work out, can resort to self-publishing.
  • How capable are you at self-promotion?: There is no guarantee that a publisher is going to adequately promote your book, but they'll at least give you a bit of a boost at bare minimum. If you self-publish, you're entirely on your own. You don't necessarily have to be a social media maven or a celebrity in order to give your book the boost necessary to generate crucial word of mouth, but you're going to have to do something. The good thing is that if you are able to market yourself properly, you'll be able to profit much more then if you went with a traditional publisher. Not only that but you have the power to sell the foreign rights to your book and get paid right away instead of waiting around for the publishing company to write you a check.

While not always the right path, self-publishing is a very good way for an author to make a living. Traditional media has to change and adapt to survive in the 21st century and in a market which was once controlled by major publishing houses, the tides have turned and now the author has more say than in the past. So think carefully before you act, but know that you can be just as popular and just as profitable if you self-publish then go the more traditional route.

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