To Self-Publish, or Not to Self-Publish?

One of the top questions in writing today is whether or not one should self-publish. Let's face it. Traditional Publishers receive hundreds of thousands of manuscripts each year, and only a small percentage of those make it into print. The rest are either thrown away or returned to the sender with a nice form rejection letter. For this reason, it makes sense for writers to explore the possibility of self-publication. That being said, let's weigh out the pros and cons.

Pros:

1. You have complete control over your book. There are no editors or publishers telling you to make change after change in an effort to "improve" your manuscript. If you want to make changes, go ahead. If not, that's fine too. It's completely up to you.

2. It's quicker. The process of submitting a book to traditional publishers can be a very long ordeal. With self-publishing, you can usually have your book published in just a few days.

3. You keep more in royalties. Publishing houses don't offer much in royalties, especially if your name in not well-known. If you choose to publish on your own, you receive an average of 40% of the profits from each book sale.

4. You can become "somebody." In the writing world, nobody takes you seriously unless you have a book. The sooner you get your own book, the sooner people will start to take notice of you. Your name and presence will grow.

5. You won't receive any rejection letters. Probably the greatest thing about self-publishing is that you never have to receive that letter or e-mail that states, "Thank you for sending us your manuscript. We regret that we are unable to use it at this time."

Cons:

1. You have to do all the work. Publishing houses have an entire staff dedicated to getting books ready for print. If you're going through a POD or vanity press, plan on doing the work yourself. You will need to be your own editor, cover designer, etc.

2. The marketing is in your hands. Many bookstores do not accept self-published books, and those that do are hard to get into. It will take a lot of hard work to promote your book and to place it in stores.

3. Money is required. No matter which company you go with, there will be some out-of-pocket expenses. Self-publishing requires you to make an upfront payment with no guarantee that you'll sell anything. Plus, there is a lot of financial requirements in advertising and marketing your book.

4. It is often looked down upon. Some people have it in their head that a self-published author is not a true author at all. However, many famous authors began their career with self-publishing. A few examples are Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling, and even Stephen King.

There is no right or wrong way to publish a book. The important thing is that you explore all the possibilities available to you and make an informed decision based on your personal goals and the facts you've obtained.

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