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Successful Self-Publishing Tips: Pros and Cons

You may have already heard how good self-publishing can be. It can at least give full control on your own books and also increase your net profits. But is it something really that great? Are there any disadvantages or downsides for self-published authors? The answer is obviously yes, as you know, everything must have its pros and cons.

(i) Extra Costs.

Traditional publishers normally get as high as 5% to 10 % of the total book sales. But for self-publishing, one can easily increase net profits to as high as 50%. The downside, however, is that you must subsidize everything you need beforehand. This kind of subsidization can be a major risk for your self-publishing business. While you may spend around $1K for self-publishing book, you can never guarantee that any subsidization costs will be eventually returned back to your pocket.

In most cases, even for self-publishing, you will still have to seek help from a distributor because booksellers are normally not that willing to purchase books directly from self-published authors. As a result, you must offer discounts to your distributor as well as bookseller, and this extra cost can cut your expected net-profit by half! Another possible issue is if your book does not sell that well, some bookstores will return your book and then ask for a refund. For preventing this problem, some self-published authors might draft a contract that does not allow refunds or returns, but of course book stores will request for a special discounted price for that.

Tough competition is also another key issue. Most readers will not purchase your book easily, especially if you were a new self-published author. You must give them some strong reasons to buy your book out of many other books with similar topics. Publicity and marketing are the key to resolve this problem. But they will have to be added up into your costs too.

(ii) Everything in Your Own Hands.

If one really go for self-publishing his book, then one shall be ready to multitask. As a direct comparison, traditional publishers normally have cover artists, layout artists, printers, and editors etc who are generally available and can work anytime for them. But for self-publishing, one must handle all of the above tasks, and if one cannot do every necessary task on his own, he still has an option to hire or get some people who can work for him. It will, however, cost him additional money and reduce his net profits. But even if one run outsourcing, one must still oversee its effectiveness and ensure that it can meet his own publishing standards.
Time can be a major issue for most self-published authors. Some may even have their full-time day jobs and have to fit self-publishing tasks with their time schedules. In most cases, time-consuming tasks such as promotion, marketing or advertising are also fallen into hands of self-publishers.

(iii) Editorial Bias.

Self-published writers regard his book as his own kid. It is not good to disparage or criticize your own child, right? As self-published authors must do almost everything on their own, including every editorial task, it may not be easy to keep objective all the time. In some cases, self-published writers may protect parts which are not so aesthetically important. As a result, it can become difficult to get rid of some redundant parts that are of very low significance for book readers. That is actually the reason why we need editors. But if a writer is also his own editor, problem of editorial bias can then easily occur.

(iv) Credibility and Reputation.

Another main issue for self-published authors is the credibility and reputation. In fact, many book readers do not give high credibility to self-published authors. Some readers are even biased extremely against self-published books because they think that if traditional publishing houses do not accept the book, then it should mean that quality level of the book is not high enough.

Just like everything else, self-publishing books have its pros and cons. The major risk is that your returns may not be high enough to cover all the money you have spent. But if you think a bit more positively, everything can be risky. You can never live without risk. After all, risk is just part of your business success.


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