The decision to self publish or use a book publisher can only be made with information. Information gives you options.

First write the book. Worry about the publishing later.

For years I’ve watched the debate about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. There is both good and bad on each, and so it depends on your ability and your luck.

A Macquarie University report asked authors how satisfied they are with their current publisher; 20% are very satisfied, 35% are (moderately) satisfied, 30% are ‘neither satisfied nor dissatisfied’ and 15% of authors are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their publisher.

The good and bad news

Have you ever tried to find a publisher for your manuscript? I did for my first work. In doing so, I learnt about slush piles, egotistical editors, and impersonal replies. And remember, a publishing house is a company that takes people’s work and does with it what the author thinks he cannot.

Throughout my process from writer to published author, to self publisher, to publishing house, I had countless writers tell me how their attempts to secure a publisher were as demoralising as mine. So many went the self-publishing route. For some, it worked out well, but sadly for most it did not.

There are several reasons for this. One is that book buyers from retail outlets look at self-published authors with scepticism – they know that more often than not, self-published authors lack the final quality.

Another reason for the non-movement of books from the basement into the hands of the book-buying public is because the author does not know how to sell or market the work.

To self-publish properly, you effectively are running a business. Many will tell you it is easy, and it can be if you have the time and ability.

There are four main aspects that must be attended to:

  • Production
  • Marketing
  • Distribution
  • Administration

But it can be done, and is done, and for those who have the time and energy, self-publishing may be a better option. The main benefit is that you will earn 100% of the gross profit. Another important aspect is that you retain control. For some this creates pressure.

Running your own self publishing company, as opposed to book publishers, could be gratifying and profitable for the right person.

If you get the right publisher, and there are many good publishers, it will be much easier to let them handle all the issues. After all, seldom do well-known authors self publish, as they would rather do what they love, and that is to write.