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The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Published

How bad/pathetic/scary/depressing/pick-your-negative-adjective is being self-published? Really?

Are there even pros to it? Or is it all cons?

Because it seems like there are only cons. Right?

Today, we’re clearly addressing the pros and cons of being self-published. And believe it or not, there are pros to it. Just like there’s more than one side to being traditionally published.

Most creative writers, when they first start out, don’t even think about self-publishing. Why should they when they’re going right to the top of the novel charts!

Move on over, baby, so you don’t get trampled.

Non-fiction writers, I think, are typically more practical than that, probably because they know it’s novelists who make the big bucks in the publishing industry, not them.

Yet no matter what kind of writing you do, self-publishing might be a viable option. Not even a last-ditch sort of possibility. An actual viable option right from the start.

That’s not to say it always is. But it can be. And in order to know whether you’ll be happier and/or more successful going the self-published route, you have to know what it involves, what it doesn’t involve and what it might involve.

In other words, you have to know the pros and cons of being self-published.

Here are the definite cons:

  • As a self-published author, you’re on your own to produce a polished final copy. It’s all on you to either:

  • Edit the book all by yourself, which isn’t recommended since we writers have a tendency to mess silly – and even major – stuff up when left to our own devices

  • Rely mainly on friends and family to tell you how to improve your writing, which is more recommended but still poses some significant problems

  • Or pay a professional editor out of pocket, which can be expensive. Maybe even really expensive.

  • A self-published author is also responsible for designing or paying someone else to design their own front cover.

  • And a self-published author is responsible for doing all of his or her own marketing, or paying someone else to do it.

If that seems like a definite lose-lose-lose situation, then keep reading.

Here are the definite pros:

  • You don’t have to waste your time searching for a literary agent or publisher, a process that can take months or years without a single guarantee that any of your efforts will amount to anything. You just hit the publish button when you’re good and ready.

  • There’s no chance you’re going to sign away your rights to your book. Nobody owns it. Nobody owns you. Both of which are very big deals. That means nobody’s going to force you at point of contract to change beloved details about your book, or shove a front cover on you that you can’t stand – again, at contract-point – or set you up on a mandatory deadline to produce a second work that you don’t have time to write well, much less publish well. And yes, all of those things can, have and no doubt will happen to traditionally published authors.

To me, those are pretty big pros to consider, to the point where I am self-published and happy about it. Perhaps you would be too.

Perhaps you wouldn’t.

That’s up to you to determine.

Now, you may have noticed that, last week, we included an “iffy” section along with the definite pros and definite cons. But because self-publishing is so much more straightforward – you publish it and either successfully market it or not – there isn’t much of an “iffy” section to be had here.

In the same way, next week, we’re going to cut out yet another section. That’s because there’s no “pros and cons” to going the vanity publisher route. There’s only…

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