Self-publishing brought publishing to the people. Print on demand and ebook publishing have democratized writing and thought like nothing else since the printing press. Before you embark on a self-publishing journey of your own, know the good, the bad and the ugly of the self-publishing industry.

The Good

Self-publishing gives you the greatest amount of control over your book. You can decide the content, price, distribution and marketing for the book. You decide what your book cover looks like. You earn the highest royalties. Do you want it in available as an ebook? Done. An audiobook. Sure. If you want it published on your birthday or tomorrow or two years from now, you have control to set the timing of your publication date.

You decide what you want to write. You are not constrained by simply what is commercially marketable. Maybe you just want to write a book for your family. Do it. Or, maybe you want a book to give to perspective clients in your business. Sounds perfect. It can be a 5,000 word ebook or a 200,000 word novel, whatever you decide.

You also get to decide how successful you want your book to be. If you have modest expectations, spend less time and money getting it published and less money and effort on marketing. If you’re interested in wild success for your book, enlist a publishing, marketing and public relations team to make it happen. You get the point. Whatever you want, you can have if you are willing to work for it.

The Bad

Although self-publishing turned the corner in terms of respectability, there is still a stigma attached with a self-published book. The ease of access to publishing and distribution allows anyone to produce a book. That means anyone. There is a built-in disincentive to create a better book. It costs money to hire an editor, cover designer and publishing coach to make it good or, at the very least, make it better.

So, with all of the good about self-publishing, being an indie author means you are responsible for making it all happen. The success of your book is entirely up to you. Successfully selling a book over the long run means approaching authorship like a business. The commitment of time and money can be daunting for some. This is not intended as a discouragement, but as a realistic look at life as an indie author. People that understand this reality going in are often the most successful.

The Ugly

Like any other industry, there are companies that will take advantage of an aspiring author’s desire and ego to get your money. Vanity (or subsidy) publishers emerged as an antidote for the guarded fortress of the traditional publishing industry. Getting behind the gates of a traditional publishing house is even harder as costs rise and profits decline. Many companies claim you can write a bestseller in a weekend, get rich quick or be featured on Oprah. While all that may be true for a very tiny minority, most first-time authors are not prepared for the investment of time or money necessary to attain those goals. Those companies make money on aspiring authors, not the books the authors sell. Therefore, they don’t have an investment in your success.

It is important to know your options when choosing a route for publishing. Thoroughly research self-publishing companies to find the ones that are working for you.

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