Books·Breaking Bad·Featured·Self Publishing

5 Reasons I Self-Published

7 minute read

CreateSpace-LogoA popular question for self publishers is, “Why did you choose self publishing over traditional publishing?” While an average reader may assume that most self-publishers chose that route because they simply couldn’t get a traditional book deal, this can be far from the truth.

There are a number of reasons why a writer might choose to self-publish.

Here are five of my own:

1. Time

You can self-publish a book twice as fast as a traditional publisher can release one.

Typically, it takes a traditional publisher about a year, if not longer, to get a book to market. Sure, their reach, packaging, and editing may be better, but what if you want to capitalize on a major cultural event for your book launch? [ref]I launched The Gospel According to Breaking Bad when the premiere episode of the last season of Breaking Bad aired. Had I gone a traditional route, and had it been accepted, it’s likely that the book still wouldn’t be available.[/ref] What if you don’t want to be stuck thinking about the same book for more than a year? What if you want to Write. Publish. Repeat. so that your work as an author starts to build upon itself?

[Tweet “Self publishing: write, release, learn from your mistakes, and start the next book, yearly.”]

2. Money


It’s highly unlikely that you will start Scrooge McDucking (or, as I like to call it now, “Huelling”) on your mountains of gold coins after you self publish your first book. It could happen with your fifth book, or your tenth, or it may never happen at all. I didn’t self publish because I thought I could earn an exorbitant amount of money, but money did play a factor in my decision.

For me, it was about the percentage of sales I could take home (and give away). With a traditional publisher, royalties can be anywhere between 25% and 40%. [ref]To those with hard information on these stats, please correct me if I’m wrong.[/ref] Amazon was smartly disruptive to grant authors a 70% royalty on sales of their ebooks, so long as the ebook is priced between $2.99 and $9.99.

Additionally, instead of getting paid every six months and seldom seeing hard sales numbers, self publishers enjoy monthly checks (if they sell anything) and easy access to up-to-date sales numbers.

3. Ownership

From now till Kingdom come, I own the rights to my book. I get to decide when to release it, where to publish, and what kinds of products I may want to turn it into. I don’t have to wait for years for the rights to revert back to me. I already have them. While I may miss out on what traditional publishing’s stamp of approval could provide to my work, the fact that I own my book outright allows me to experiment with a number of variables.

For instance, an audiobook version of The Gospel According to Breaking Bad will be coming in the next few months. I’ll be releasing Kobo and Nook editions in the near future, and I may even venture into iBooks. I may even look into a translated edition at some point, considering that Breaking Bad is being remade for Spanish audiences under the title Metástasis.

And, because I own the rights, I can set the price at whatever I’d like, whenever I’d like.

4. Because I Could

If I’d wanted to self publish my book even a few years ago, it would have likely cost me an exorbitant amount of money with a vanity press whose distribution methods would have relied on my ability to personally sling expensive hardcover copies to anyone on the street. With the advent of CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, Smashwords, and a long list of other online book creation companies, the road to self publishing has never been more accessible.

Sure, you’ll suffer a headache or 10 as you try to navigate your way through getting your book into the real world,[ref]If you have the desire to get a book out, but need assistance with the story or the practicalities of self-publishing, I’d be glad to help you out for an agreed-upon fee. Just contact me.[/ref] but the opportunity is there, and it’s so cheap to do that anyone can see their work in print and have it distributed by a major, global company for pennies on the dollar.

5. Freedom

This last reason may have been the most enticing, and it sums up all four reasons above. While a self-publisher’s greatest drawback is the fact that they’re the one responsible for all the work, a self-publisher’s greatest asset is the fact that they’re the one responsible for all the work.

Want to offer your book for free? Want to create a high-end, hardback, collector’s edition via Lightning Source? Want to record your own audiobook and release it for free on your website? Want to partner with other authors in your genre to cross-promote books? Want to send print copies to 100 reviewers? Want to turn your book into a play?

The options are endless, and the power of self publishing allows you to choose your own adventure. If an experiment fails, so be it. Share it on your blog, learn why it failed, then move on to something different. Self publishing allows you to iterate your brand quickly. Such freedom of experimentation will serve to make you a better writer and marketer.

QUESTION FOR CONSIDERATION: If you’ve self published or are considering self publishing, why did you choose that route? What would you add to my list?

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10 Replies

  1. I agree Blake. I used CreateSpace for my book and have been very happy. When I travel and speak, I print as many copies as I want and have them sent to my speaking location. I don’t have to rent a warehouse for extra books!

  2. Great point Chris. What’s the turnaround time been like for you? Are these mostly speaking engagements in the states or in SA? … as I’m sure that variable plays a major part in your answer.

  3. The money and ownership issue is major. Plus, you’re going to be working just as hard after you’ve published to sell the book through your platform, so why not keep more money doing it for yourself? The self-publishing industry is fascinating. I used to be a purist and said I would never self-publish. Now, I don’t know. There’s definitely a mystique about being wanting by a publishing company and an agent, though.

  4. Love this! Very similar reasons for myself. Time is sooooooooooooooo important.It’s very likely many authors shop the book, spend their time and energy for a year or so and then just end up self publishing. I love the concepts in Write Publish Repeat as well. Can’t wait to chat with your more about this Blake.

  5. Re: working as hard, that’s what I’ve read from others as well. If you’re an author just starting out, it’s not too likely that a traditional publisher will do all (or even much of) the marketing for you.

    Another part of the debate between self-publishing and traditional publishing is taking into consideration the type of book you’re writing and your ultimate goal with it. My book was for a very niche audience (I think), so it seemed unlikely to get picked up, so I self-pubbed.

    I agree with your last point too, but if I’d waited to see what my chances were, I wouldn’t have released a book last year. 🙂

  6. Well said. Do you want to spend your time pitching, or writing?

    But, like I replied to Alison below, your publishing route can depend on the type of project you’re working on. There’s pros and cons, as you know, either way. Maybe a followup post should be 5 Reasons I’d Still Like to Be Traditionally Published.

  7. Good stuff Blake! You really confirmed (again) that I am going down the right path with self-publishing. I would hate to wait a year or so just to be told “no thank you” on my book.

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