7 Benefits Of Self-Publishing (And 8 Challenges You Should Be Aware Of Too!)

Posted: February 11, 2019

It is a bold step, yet it can be an exhilarating one, to go beyond pursuing your passion for words as a hobby, and instead re-define your career to follow your passion. Here are some key benefits of self-publishing, and also the challenges that come with it. 

I am sharing some thoughts on the benefits of self-publishing as well as the associated challenges, based on the experiences I have gathered over the last six years in the self-publishing space.

7 benefits of self-publishing

When the power to publish lies at your fingertips, you have:

  1. Full and complete control over the release of each new or revised edition of your book
  2. Access to all your books’ sales reports, depending on the distribution platform. The access can be near real-time with online platforms like Amazon and Flipkart. With brick and mortar book stores it can be a month or more
  3. Control over pricing and transparency
  4. Flexibility to promote your book, when, how and the way you see fit.
  5. A deep sense of satisfaction and fulfilment at having self-published and having turned into an ‘Authorpreneur’
  6. Learn, Grow & Explore. It presents an opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone to explore, to learn and grow with each book you publish. You develop insights into each and every step in the self-publishing life-cycle, as you form a virtual self-publishing team of enablers to cover editing, proofreading, book design and other aspects. If your earlier experience was in an unrelated domain, then you are introduced to a whole new world that revolves around creativity and you begin to empathize with traditional publishers, authors, editors, printers and other team players in the publishing space.
  7. Freedom and flexibility – You call the shots. You write and publish at your own pace and set and follow your own milestones. That can be an unbeatable feeling if you are able to embrace the challenges that go with self-publishing, in the right spirit

8 challenges with self-publishing

With great power comes even greater responsibility!

  1. Owning the risk and responsibility. It is an independent and creative venture and you own the risk for all the time, energy and effort that you put in and the monetary investment too…in case you have invested in editing, cover page design, marketing, branding, maintaining inventory, bulk printing, etc.,
  2. Market Trends – You need to follow and keep track of the pulse of the market, explore new self-publishing platforms and enabling tools, new and innovative ways to present content and promote and price your book and market it accordingly.
  3. Tackling the maverick image of a self-publisher and the negative connotations around self-published books. This can be seen as a challenge or as an energizer. It depends on whether you perceive this as liberating and empowering or as disheartening. If you are considering self-publishing your first book, it is important to be aware that self-published books do not carry public acceptance or open approval as traditionally published books do. But this is slowly and steadily changing.
  4. Chances of traditional publishing in the future decline. An already self-published book will be outright rejected by traditional publishers, if are you interested in the same book being traditionally published in the future (unless of course the self-published book becomes a runaway success). Self-publishing a book could also reduce the chances of your future manuscripts being accepted for traditional publishing.
  5. Self-publishing demands entrepreneurial skills especially if you are planning on doing this long term, ie., writing and publishing your own books. You need to understand the ROI analysis. If you are not already gifted with business acumen and skills for an independent venture, it can be an acquired skill and be a learning in progress as it is for me. It helps to have a strategy and a time-bound plan in place towards tackling each step in the publishing process, after you have decided to self-publish your book. It is important to decide which parts of the publishing life-cycle to outsource, be it proof reading, editing, typesetting, cover design, book launch, marketing, etc and the associated monetary investment.
  6. Promotion & Marketing of your book is a significant part of the self-publishing cycle. Consider all the below as you put together a plan. Book launch, pre-order option, promotional offers, press release, social media promotion, book tours and author talks, etc.
  7. Balance your distribution channels with the investment and expected returns. As you expand your brick and mortar distribution channels and expand beyond a ‘Print-on-demand’ model, you will need to carefully weigh the risks versus returns.
  8. Reasonable and sustainable book sales are not guaranteed, leave alone making it a bestseller. This applies to most of the traditionally published books too, considering the bestseller formula still remains elusive at best. One cannot force readers and reviewers (who may or may not be writers themselves) to read something that does not appeal to them. The book promotions should spread the word and entice the readers to pick up the book in the first place, for the writing inside to even stand a chance to draw or pull the readers. Paying someone to read your book is out of the question as it just defeats the purpose, doesn’t it! Ultimately, the book with a story-line that holds ‘mass appeal’ and also gets most of the other things reasonably on track, like narrative style, character development, marketing and an ‘undefinable quality’ will go on to become a bestseller or at the very least a well-loved book with a fan following. As a writer, if your passion for writing fits a popular genre and topic, then the chances of your book becoming a bestseller are high. But that cannot and should not stop a writer from writing and sharing with the world. For that matter it should not and cannot stop a self-published author from spreading the word about the book!

As a self-publisher, you are prone to come across instances when it feels like the challenges far outnumber the benefits of self-publishing. A rather daunting and discouraging feeling. But it is important to hang-in there and not let it get you down. This particular passion for self-publishing your creative work demands persistence and a long-term investment of your interest and commitment. Over time and with each new book, a self-published author’s tribe of readers will slowly and surely grow.

First published at the author’s blog

Image via Unsplash

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