Self-Publishing v. Conventional Publishing

While self-publishing and being an established author are often thought of as different routes to publication, there are many successful authors who self-publish. Many authors who contract with conventional publishing houses, large or small, are subsequently unhappy with the deal. They lose all control over what their book looks like, and how it's distributed. They discover that the royalty percentage that they earn on each book sold is tiny. And once they've signed a contract, they have assigned the copyright in their life's work over to someone else for as long as the work is in print. To make a book successful requires a lot of promotional work from the author. If that promotion (and the book) is successful, then the financial rewards from a conventionally published book go into the publisher's pockets, not the author's.


Drawbacks of major publishers are:

  • Poor publicity support for most new books
  • Author loses control of the process
  • Lack of interaction with publishers employees
  • Author has no input into cover design and pre press
  • Author relinquishes most or all rights to work


Drawbacks of self-publishing are:

  • Massive amounts of time required of author
  • Large amount of organization
  • Starting a new business
  • Many new procedures to learn, unrelated to authoring
  • Poor distribution, sales and marketing
  • Absence of clout with major accounts


Drawbacks of small presses are:

  • Lack of funds for serious promotion
  • Limited clout with national accounts
  • Limited professional resources
  • Publicity support may be very limited

Recently, the editor of the Midwest Book Review, Jim Cox, wrote an excellent article on the information an author needs to acquire when making the self-publishing decision. He points out how much work is required to successfully self-publish a book. But if you want a big advance from a New York publisher, self-publishing is one way to get there, according to a recent article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

With the Author's Publishing Cooperative, the authors pay for printing, publicity, sales and warehousing. But they retain all their rights, and earn the publisher's profit as well as the author's royalty on all books sold. The Cooperative uses economies of scale to purchase printing and other services in bulk for several authors at one time. It charges the authors a single flat fee for originating and overseeing the many chores involved in publishing. For a full list of what we do, click here. For books that are expected to sell very small numbers, Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing might also be an option. Dan Taylor wrote an excellent overview of POD publishing called "The Truth about POD Publishing" which lists its pros and cons. And by clicking here you can see an article from USA Today about the differences between conventional publishing, self-publishing and POD.

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you're going to do all the work required to make your book a success, why not self-publish, and reap the financial rewards as well?