Saturday, April 1, 2017

Self-Publication Part 1 // What It Is and Why I Chose It

Are you ready for this five week series? Today I'm talking about what self-publishing is, comparing it traditional publishing, and explaining my decision-making process.

Self-publication is all the rage today. Before this option emerged (largely with the Kindle's birth in 2007) the only way to get anything published was through traditional methods: a publishing house for books, a newspaper for serials, and a magazine for articles. You had to prove that your book is worthy of publication to a publishing house, and then give them most of the control over your manuscript. But having a significant publisher represent you is profitable for sales, and they arrange lots of the marketing and laborious details for you. So the real question is, do you feel comforted by that process? Is that what you want for your manuscript that you've worked so hard on? It often involves rejections to your queries, but an agent to help you, and only some control over the details, which can be a blessing or a curse.

Self-publication opened up a whole new world where anyone with the willpower (not necessarily the talent) could publish without the big names. There are online companies such as Lulu, BookBaby, and CreateSpace which only require the inputting of information and the uploading of files in order for you to publish your book. BookBaby requires payment to use them up front, CreateSpace takes part of the royalty, and from what I can tell Lulu charges you per copy you require. Depending on your funds and their services, you can decide which method is the most appealing.

While tradition publication requires you relinquishing some control, self-publication has no such demand. In fact, everything is on you. What you can't do yourself, you must hire to do for you (more on that in the next post). You are in every part of the decision-making process and it takes a lot of time and research to decide what's best for your book.

When I published Martin Hospitality, I self-published through CreateSpace. I liked that they were an Amazon company and would automatically stock my book on Amazon upon publication. They also print-on-demand, meaning a book is made when someone orders. There are no "extra" books on hand for either of us to lose money on. My royalty is the list price minus production cost and CreateSpace's share.

While I did look at the differences between traditional and self-publishing, it was not a hard decision for me. I am a control freak. I knew I wanted the control that comes with self-publishing. I didn't mind having to do the dirty work of publishing. I also liked the idea of finding my own services--people I could trust to handle my manuscript well. It's an uphill battle to prove that your book is quality and to get it noticed by people. I didn't mind having to work for it since I could publish on my own timeline and know the book was completely mine when it was finished.

I don't regret self-publishing in any way. It's been a wonderful experience, even though it is daunting. I love that I was so involved in the process even if it requires a lot of work from me even after publication. I have nothing against traditional publication, though, and might even give it a shot someday for a separate book series. It's still the "normal" way to do things and it's a big deal to get accepted by a publisher. And it certainly isn't impossible.

My brothers watch The Incredibles recently and when I overheard Edna, I couldn't help thinking "traditional publishing." Mr. Incredible wants a cape. She says "No capes." She's the pro ... no capes it is. That basically sums up why I chose self-publishing ;)

In summary, here's a pros and cons of both methods:

Self-Publishing Pros
  • you have all the control
  • you are free to do what you'd like
  • you're involved in the entire process
  • you don't have to wait for a contract

Self-Publishing Cons
  • you do everything yourself or hire people
  • you have to educate yourself to make the right decisions
  • self-publishing is often assumed to be lower quality
  • marketing is all on you
  • many distributors do not consider self-published items

Traditional Publishing Pros
  • an agent represents you and does your marketing
  • you have more time to write with less on you
  • readers will find you easier (and chains accept you)
  • traditional publishing is often assumed higher quality
  • your agent can find you unique opportunities

Traditional Publishing Cons
  • you are subject to their deadlines
  • you may not have much say in their choices for details (cover, editing, formatting, release date, etc)
  • you have to get noticed before you can publish
  • lots of other people are very involved in your work
I assure you none of this is all-inclusive. As you can see, the routes are very different. They both require a measure of bravery and dedication. You've got this!


Thank you all for submitting questions to the survey so I could plan out my posts. What questions do you have about self-publishing? Will I be seeing you on the bookshelves?

For other resources on the differences, pros, and cons, try Victoria Minks and Jansina :)


  1. This is very, very helpful! If I ever published, traditional publishing seemed like the only option and honestly it just didn't seem possible from all the stories I've heard of getting rejection letters.
    I'll definitely have to look into CreateSpace instead of LuLu when I get around to finishing a story haha!

    1. Yay! Thankfully traditional publishing doesn't have to be the only option any more!! It's still hard to get into, but it doesn't mean you have to be unpublished if you can't make it in traditional publishing. Who knows, I might give it a shot eventually ... I'm generally just too impatient to wait around on a publishing house to accept my manuscript when I could already have it self-published and in my hands :P

  2. This is so enlightening! Thank you for sharing your experiences and first hand knowledge! <3

  3. Thank you, Abi! I will definitely being referring back to these posts in the future. :D

    1. Awesome!! It can be hard to judge what would be helpful to know, so I'm glad it's useful information! :D

  4. Ahh! This is so helpful! (I was hoping that you'd do some posts on self-publication at some point ;) ) I'm still trying to figure out if self publishing is what God wants me to do.

    Thank you for sharing this, Abi! :D

    1. Hooray! Yes, I'd been told such posts would be appreciated so *ta-da* ;)

      It's definitely not for everyone. I still love the idea of traditional publishing, so I might give it a shot some day. But I loved learning all the ropes having to do this first book myself :)

  5. This was a very helpful post!

    1. Great! That was my goal. It helped that people asked specific questions, so I knew exactly what I needed to cover!! :D

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