To Self-Publish or Not to Self-Publish?

The first time I became aware of self-publishing was while reading about the book The Shack, by William Young. Published in 2007 at a time when self-publishing was considered to be the route travelled by those whose manuscripts couldn’t meet the rigour to be accepted by established publishing houses. The Shack defied conventional wisdom and has since sold over 23 million copies (

Since then the self-publishing industry has continued to grow and has become a viable option for many authors. There are definitely pros and cons to pursuing this route and the final decision ultimately depends on an author’s personal goals and circumstances. I felt that it was the best route for me. I share my deal breakers below.

My 3 takeaways about the advantages of self-publishing:

Autonomy - Self-publishing allows you to have more control of the entire process. With traditional publishing there is often a long wait time between submission of your manuscript and hopefully approval. With self-publishing you can jump right in and publish when you’re ready. Being involved in the process is far more engaging and fulfilling, especially since your book is a very personal project. You also get to set your own price for your books in order to maximise on profits.

Easier as a new author - It is a much easier entry point as a new author. It’s more difficult to access the standard publishing industry when you don’t already have a track record as a writer or if you don’t have several manuscripts for consideration. Self-publishing is a great option for new authors. Even from a sales perspective. Most customers will initially be drawn from your network. You can start building this capacity before you even hit publish. Even if you go the standard publishing route, most authors still have to do a lot of their own marketing in order to build a brand and increase sales.

Create your own Dream Team. You ultimately have control over the professionals you choose to work with - illustrators, graphic designers, editors, etc. This is significant if you have a clear vision for your project. You can choose artists who are willing to work closely with you to create an authentic interpretation of your manuscript. Creatives are so much more accessible now with the prevalence of social media that there are very few limitations to creating a team that shares your values.

So there you go. Self-publishing is a great option if you know you are willing to put in the work. Bringing a manuscript to life is a very hands-on and personal process. It won’t stop there as you will have to have a marketing plan as well. However, it will be absolutely worth it when you see your finished book in the hands of others.

What are your thoughts? What would work best for your book project? Share in the comments below.

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