The INside Track — Self-Publishing

Self-publishing. Just saying the word usually splits authors into two camps: Those who believe self-published authors aren’t ‘good enough’ to get published traditionally, or those who see it as just another way to get a book out. There are as many reasons to self-publish as there are ways to do it successfully, and in this blog post, we’re going to talk about some of the pros, cons, misconceptions, hard truths and stigmas surrounding it.

It’s about to get real.

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing:

On first glance, self-publishing may seem like an answer to all your publishing prayers. No query letters? No synopsis? No waiting months and months to hear back from an agent or editor? Be still my heart!

Well, yes. But it’s not all sunshine and unicorns prancing on rainbows.

While it’s true there are a lot of upsides to bypassing the gatekeepers of the big publishing houses, there are some downsides, too.


  • YOU maintain control over book production/marketing
  • More ability to reach readers directly
  • Cost to self-publish has gone down
  • Increased Internet presence
  • Stigma in the publishing industry is reduced/seen as another professional way to go


  • You do all the work (Yes, all of it) or pay to have third parties do it
  • No publishing house behind you to help market/sell works
  • Potentially fewer sales (potentially)

So what does this mean for you, as the author? Well perhaps the biggest pro/con when you self-publish your book is that you are essentially the publisher. This means, while you have control over everything that goes into your book, you are also doing most of the work, unless you hire it out to third parties, which can get expensive. That means paying for (or doing) developmental editing, copyediting, proofreading, cover design, interior design, social media, marketing, launching, and maintaining sales. That’s most of the things a traditional publisher would normally do for you.

Sounds like an awful lot for one person. And it is. That’s why most self-published authors have a ‘team’ they assemble to do most of the production phase, like the editing, cover design, etc. After a while all of that work can get expensive, but it is the price to maintain total and complete control over everything that goes into your book.

However, there are other pros: You choose when to market your book. If you go traditional, the publishing houses decide what price your book is, and when to market it. You are completely at their mercy. Conversely, with a self-published book you are in direct contact with your readers through social media and author platform, and you get to choose both price, and when/how to promote you book. This takes up more time and money on your part, but if you run ads consistently it has the potential to make more, too.


This may be the biggest reason why some authors choose not to go self-published. I know I felt that way for a bit when I first started working in the publishing industry. ‘It’s the easy way out. It doesn’t count as REALLY getting published’.

That may have been the belief once, but with some authors making millions (yes, millions) on their self-published books, professionals and publishers can no longer turn a blind eye to the potential the self-published market holds. In this way, the stigma as a self-published book being ‘lesser’ than a traditionally published book has diminished. It hasn’t gone away completely, and there is still a much higher chance of submitting a crappy self-published book than submitting a crappy traditionally published book.

But with some of the stigma gone, and the promise of more control over what gets to go into their work, an increasingly popular route some authors are choosing is to become a ‘hybrid’ author. This is where authors choose to publish some of their bigger works through traditional venues, while self-publishing other works for some extra revenue or to keep their name visible. They essentially get the best of both worlds: Their books in bookstores and airplane venues (what author doesn’t want that?), but with the control, author presence and freedom of self-publishing.

Obviously this post just touches on the basics of self-publishing, but there are plenty of resources on the Internet or in numerous writing books. If you’re looking for more writing inspiration and tips to make 2016 your best writing year ever, join literary agent and bestselling Amazon author, Andrea Hurst, and myself, Sean Fletcher, author and developmental editor, on January 30th, 2016 for the Start the New Year Write all-day writing workshop!

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Happy writing!



  1. You mention “you do all the work” as being a con, but a lot of authors view that as one of the most rewarding parts of the process. Sure, some authors like to write their manuscript and be done with it, but there are many authors who love being involved in the entire process.

  2. Very interesting and informative. I’m querying agents about my debut novel right now. I have a couple mss out being read, but it’s a very slow process, and I’ve thought of self-publishing so I can get into book two whole heartedly. Also pinged on Monica Haynes’ comments. Agree cover is very important. Thanks!

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