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Advantages / Disadvantages of Self-Publication
AdvantagesDisadvantages
Total control over all aspects of the final product: writing, editing, coverart, book design, printing, distribution and marketing Total responsibility for all aspects of the final product: writing, editing, coverart, book design, printing, distribution and marketing; as it is unlikely one has mastered all the required skills to a professional level, will have to contract for at least some, if not all, of these services
100% of net revenues (cover price minus printing and distribution costs; leaves about 20-35% of cover ) go to the authorAuthor responsible for initial investment costs (editing, coverart, book design, printing, distribution, and marketing)
No need to wait months or years to hear whether book has been accepted by a publisher; book can be in print much soonerLearning curve required to acquire self-publishing skills; and to identify, recruit, and coordinate appropriate independent artists, designers, editors, printers, and distributors, etc.; more effort than when a publisher does it for you
Amazon and other online booksellers now make possible selling self-published books to mass market worldwide Severely limited (essentially, no) access to other major distribution channels: bookstore chains; book racks at airports, drugstores, Wal-Mart, Costco, 7-11, etc.
Print-on-demand and e-publishing allow self-published authors to market to local and niche genre markets that are too small to be economically viable for large corporate publishers (e.g., poetry, local history, East-Indian Steampunk) Sales potential to niche and regional markets correspondingly limited (Note, however, that a large corporate publisher would count sales of 5,000 copies over a ten year period a failure; whereas self-published authors may be very pleased with such sales)
Self-published author not limited to predetermined marketing categories, or limited by marketing department's sales projections, or publisher's need to appeal to lowest common denominator; free to pursue own artistic vision, push boundaries, be edgy, innovative, creative; to take risks that large corporate publishers may not feel they can Not fitting predetermined marketing categories or appealing to mass market may adversely affect sales.

Authors who choose self-publishing because traditional publishers were unable to recognize their genius, likely delusional

In contrast to traditional publishing model that markets a book for only a few months before remaindering, self-published print-on-demand and e-format books need never go out of print; longer lifespan allows for word of mouth and author's reputation to build; smaller sales figures extended over many more years may add up to equivalent sales over lifetime of the titleWithout a critical mass of copies physically available on bookstore racks, POD and e-format books may never come to attention of potential buyers; as an author puts out new titles, must still devote time and effort to marketing and managing backlist; self-published authors often have no one to take over managing titles if they become ill, wish to retire, or are otherwise indisposed
A few self-published works have gone viral and achieved commercial success; the occasional self-published work is picked up by a mainstream publisher The vast majority of self-published books sell less than 100 copies a year; most publishers will return self-published submission unopened
A few self-published authors have won awards or received critical acclaim Most reviewers will not review self-published books; self-published works may not qualify for many literary contests or awards; self-published authors may not qualify for professional writers' associations; many consumers will not consider buying self-published books (and are increasingly sophisticated in spotting which titles are self-published, fake press names notwithstanding). Unlike the music industry where local and garage bands have always been afforded at least limited respect, self-published books have a poor track record and public image
 
those who hold day jobs in academia, a significant disadvantage is that self-published works do not count for academic standing

 

Last updated August, 2010.