3 Major Benefits of Self-Publishing Over Traditional Publishing

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With the recent news of Brandon Sanderson's independently published series (which earned over $19 million in just a few days), it seems like there's no better time to reassess the very idea of self-publishing. Once considered the last refuge of writers who can't land a book deal, indie publishing is now seen by many as the first port of call. And here are three good reasons why:

1. It's the only way to guarantee your book gets published

The difficulty of getting a traditional book deal often reminds us of the Bible. Indeed, it can be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than to catch a good agent's attention with your manuscript, convincing that agent to sign you, pitching your book to publishers, and then persuading them to take a chance on you.

The road to a book deal is more often than not paved with rejection — which explains why more authors are turning to self-publishing first. Simply put, nobody is going to tell you what you can and cannot publish. If you absolutely, positively need to publish a book, you can do it yourself and guarantee its release.

2. You keep the biggest piece of the pie

When you first imagine becoming an author, the idea that you'll earn two dollars for every copy sold sounds terrific! It's only when you understand that a 'solid debut' from a novelist sells 5,000 to 10,000 copies that you start doing your sums and realize you can't quit your day job just yet.

But how is it any better as a self-published author?

Here's the simple version: traditionally published authors enjoy a royalty rate of 5-15%, while self-published authors keep anywhere between 50% to 70% of sales revenue. Even if you only sell half as many copies as an indie author as you would with a traditional publisher, you'd still take home three times more money. With a little bit of marketing work (in the form of mailing list building and digital advertising), these sales numbers are more than achievable.

3. Nobody's going to tell you no (apart from the reader)

This last point is perhaps the most appealing one.

When you publish through a traditional press, you have some influence in the production process. Ultimately, the publishers will have the final word on everything from book cover design, picking your editors, and settling on a title. They will even decide when your book will be published — which is often two years after they buy your rights.

As an indie author, you are the boss. You can hire editors who suit your needs and fit your communication style. You can get involved in the creative side of designing your cover. You can decide when your book gets published.

This freedom is, of course, a double-edged sword. Self-publishing relies on the author understanding how their book appeals to their target readers. Without industry gatekeepers guiding your project and telling you 'no' at key moments, you'll need to surround yourself with trustworthy advisors who can tell you whether your book works. After all, you may be the boss now, but once readers get their hands on your final product, they're the ones you'll have to please.

So, if you reckon you have a winning story on your hands — and you're ready to find the people who can help you shape it into a great book — then self-publishing might be your next step.

Rose Atkinson-Carter is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world's best self-publishing resources and professionals like editors, designers, and ghostwriters. She lives in London.