Finding a publisher who is willing to take a punt and offer an advance has long been the Holy Grail of aspirant authors as they contemplate their uncertain futures whilst putting together their maiden works. However the arrival on the scene of self-publishing has changed the game beyond all recognition.
Self-publishing in the modern age is no longer, as was once the case, a next-best scenario for writers not quite able to make the grade. Many authors today, having considered the options available to them carefully, plump in the first instance for self-publishing as a route of preference to the uncertainties of dependence upon the goodwill of a middle-man whose primary interest is invariably the financial bottom line. One could do worse by way of an example than Fifty Shades of Grey
There are, of course, many advantages to sticking with the traditional publisher route, but here are ten reasons why many opt to self-publish all the same:
1. Complete editorial control
The thing you want to say may not be the same thing as what a publisher thinks the customer wants to read. As the saying goes he who pays the piper calls the tune, and if the traditional publisher feels strongly enough your piece of art is going to be tossed about and re-purposed with solely commercial objectives in mind. With self-publishing you write what you wish to write, and trust your own judgment as to whether or not it will sell.
2. No barriers to publishing
For better or for worse, the book you submit is the one your readers will see. You are responsible for spelling, grammar, syntax and layout, and any mistakes are yours alone as it is nobody's job to spot them on your behalf. But as long as you take care of the basic housekeeping, you do know at least that your work is going to make it into print.
3. No minimum sales threshold
Modern printing technology means that books can be printed as and when ordered, meaning there is no minimum number of sales that the writer has to achieve and no financial commitment beyond the purely optional cost of hiring a proofreader or cover designer. Platforms such as Amazon's CreateSpace will make a profit even if you should only sell one solitary copy.
4. Faster process
When you upload a book for self-publishing it is live and on offer to the world sometimes within a matter of a few hours. Of course the actual writing of a book is time consuming, as is proofreading and formatting it for publication, but once that is done there is no waiting for months or even years for a publisher to get around to reading it. Hit the send button and you’re away.
5. Print On Demand
The beauty of self-publishing a paperback is that copies are not printed until or unless they are ordered. Which means no stacks of unsold copies in the garage and no financial gamble involved.
6. Ebook option
As it becomes even easier for just about anybody to download an electronic version of your book and to store it on their reader, smartphone or PC, so sales of ebooks will inevitably increase. As there is no physical copy being printed or shipped royalties on ebooks are usually significantly higher than with printed books.
7. Better royalties
Royalties on ebooks are generally up to 70% of the sale price. Even on paperbacks they are substantially higher than would be the case had it been published by traditional means. You set your own price and your royalty is determined from there - simples.
8. Easy to amend manuscript
No matter how many times you read and re-read your work there will always be a typo or two which invariably you will spot just as soon as you’ve uploaded it. Self-published books can effortlessly be taken offline and altered. Within 24 hours or so you’ll be back in business!
9. Longer shelf-life
Self-published books are available to purchase from your online store or webpage in perpetuity. They never die.
10. No longer the preserve of second-rate authors
The days when self-publishing was for substandard writers who couldn't secure a deal with a real publisher are long gone. The random and sometimes seemingly arbitrary way in which publishers seem to decide who does and who doesn't get a contract has inspired writers to look for another way, and self-publishing has risen to meet that demand. Today many established authors of proven ability and talent are eagerly embracing the self-publishing route.