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Is It Better to Self-Publish or Get a Publisher?

Is It Better to Self-Publish or Get a Publisher?

The struggle of being a writer isn’t necessarily putting pen to paper or finger to keyboard. It’s what happens after you have crafted your story, either fiction or non-fiction, and are ready for others to read it. Finding a publisher can be a very lengthy process. Some writers try to find literary agents to help get their work published. Others contact publishers directly.

And then some writers don’t feel like going through that whole process and just decide to publish their story on their own through a self-publishing process.

Which is better? The answer is complex. Both could be solid options for you, but sometimes neither is the right course of action to take as well. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help figure out which publishing course is right for you.

Q: Do I have an established network of fans already?

Maybe you blog on a consistent base and have a few thousand subscribers. Maybe you’ve got a few thousand people who follow you on Facebook or Twitter. If you have an established network of people who are potentially interested in purchasing a book from you, then self-publishing could be the right way to go. Your profit margins are potentially higher if you can cut out all of the middlemen in the retail arena.

Q: How much control do you want to have over the final product?

If you are self-publishing a story, then you get to have the final say on the structure of the book. If you work with a publisher, you might have to make some compromises about the content, characters, and other components of your story to have it reach the market. If you don’t mind making changes that can help you achieve more sales, then a publisher could be the right move. If you don’t like the idea of ceding control in any way, then self-publishing might be the better option here.

Q: Do you have expert-level editing skills?

The advantage of going through the traditional publishing process is that your story is going to transform into something that’s more fit for today’s reader. Copyediting, story editing, and other feedback will come your way without you having to pay for it as you would if you were self-publishing. If you don’t have the money to hire an editor and your editing skills are not what you’d call fantastic, then getting a publisher is probably the better course to take.

Q: How much time do you expect to spend on marketing?

Publishers are going to expect you to market your book once it is published. You’ll be attending book signings, speaking engagements, and making other public appearances that they’ve scheduled on your behalf. You’ll be doing the same thing when self-publishing, but you’ve got to be the one who schedules every event. If you’re not great at reaching out to others you may not know to promote your work, then getting a publisher is a better idea. If you love making cold calls, then self-publishing would be a possibility.

Q: Do you see writing as a business opportunity?

Writing can be a lot of fun when you’re in the middle of the creative process. When it’s time to start marketing yourself, editing yourself, and the other tasks that are required once a book is finished and it’s not so fun, will you stay committed? If you don’t see writing as a business opportunity on some level, then neither option is right for you at the moment. It takes just as much work to sell a book as it does to write one.

[bctt tweet=” It takes just as much work to sell a book as it does to write one. #writing #publishing #bookmarketing” username=””]

Q: What are the financial consequences going to be?

If you self-publish books in certain states in the US, especially Alaska and Washington, then you may be required to apply for a business license. If that is the case, your sales become business income that could be potentially taxed under B&O rules. That opens up the potential of being taxed twice on your sales revenues – once on personal income and once on business income – unless you setup an independent business from your personal accounts. It’s not that complicated everywhere, but if it is where you live, you might want to consider finding a publisher instead to avoid this mess.

Is it better to self-publish or get a publisher? There is no perfect general answer that can be offered. Ask yourself these questions, give yourself honest answers, and you’ll be in a better position to know which choice is right for you.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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