What Is Self-Publishing? How to Publish a Book and Its Outstanding Benefits

With the increasing popularity of self-publishing, it is no surprise that more and more people are trying to publish their own books. In this article, we will talk about what is self-publishing means and the steps to follow when self-publishing  

Writing a book is no easy feat. For many authors, the process can take years. However, once that piece of the puzzle is complete, you are eager to get your work into the hands of readers. We can’t blame you there! 

In between the writing and the selling, though, comes the publishing. You may not even realize that there are many ways to approach the publishing process. Even if you have already settled on self-publishing, it is a good idea to understand traditional publishing to be well-versed in the world of publishing as a whole.

Defining self-publishing

Self-publishing is when you publish a creative work of art without the use of a professional firm. It also means that you use all your own resources to accomplish this, and each step of the process is completed and paid for independently.

Defining traditional publishing houses

Tackling publishing the traditional way means that you work hand in hand with a publishing firm throughout the entire process. There is typically a contract involved, and the entire publishing process is handled via professionals, using their resources.

What is self-publishing? Why self-publishing is great for authors

How to self-publish a book

Many authors know how to harness their creativity but now how to make it marketable. If you are determined to become one of those self-published authors, you must train your brain to tackle the semantics just as efficiently as you do the creative components.

Write your book

The undebatable first step is to write your book. This implies that you have also defined your niche, determined your target market, and created an outline that suits them both. Writing seems simple in that it simply takes pen to paper to generate a work of art, but self-published authors understand that they need to be a little more organized than that.

Edit your book

After getting your book to a place where you feel content creation is done, it is time to edit. Here you are going to focus on things like length, grammar, and tone. During this process, you will want to be sure that you catch any mistakes that could challenge the book’s integrity or you as an author. Even if you are self-publishing, that doesn’t mean you need to do every step yourself. In fact, with something like editing, it would be helpful to outsource this aspect of publishing as it can be great to have a fresh set of eyes and perspective on your work.

Formatting

This step will largely depend on the type of book that you’ve written. For example, if it is a chapter book, you need to pay attention to the length of each chapter and if the flow is sensical to the reader. However, if you wrote a children’s book, your focus should lean more towards ensuring that the layout of your pages suits the age range of your content.

Illustrations and book cover

When you self-publish, you might still need to outsource the artwork. Even if your piece does not support the need for interior artwork, think about hiring a cover designer to create options for your book cover. As an extension of the editing process, you also must focus on the placement of your illustrations, the volume, and how the book would look printed. This is important even if you’re only focusing on creating an eBook. Your cover is still necessary as it will still be used in your marketing.

Marketing your book

Arguably one of the most challenging aspects of self-publishing is marketing your work. With traditional publishing, you will be able to take advantage of the resources and strategies of the publisher who have done this before and likely have the process nailed down.

The self-publishing process is different. You will need to research strategies and execute them independently. This is not impossible and can certainly be rewarding, not to mention lucrative. Your marketing will mean the difference between a flop and a best-seller. So ensure to give the proper effort and investment when planning your marketing strategy.

The pros and cons of self-publishing

Now that you know what self-publishing is in general, let’s do a deep dive into the pros and cons versus traditional publishing so that you are as prepared as possible for the journey. 

Benefits of Self-Publishing

  • You have creative control and freedom to write whatever you want to
  • More money goes into your pocket from each sale than you would receive from print books
  • You operate on your timeline and under your own terms

Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

  • Less immediate visibility
  • You will be responsible for all upfront costs
  • Less industry support and knowledge

Bear in mind that these are subjective, and what one author deems a pro, another may deem a con and vice versa. The entire publishing process will have ebbs and flows, and regardless of your methods, you should expect such.

What is self publishing? Exploring the self-publishing route

The costs of self-publishing

As previously stated, if you go the route of self-publishing, you will be responsible for all the costs to do so. A traditional publishing company will foot the bill upfront but remember that this means less in your pocket on the back end.

Even as a self-published author, you might still want to outsource some of these tasks, so the cost should be considered and a budget created before starting a project.

Editing costs

Using an outsourced editor can be beneficial because it means that a second set of eyes has checked over your work. Especially if you have spent an extended amount of time writing, reading, re-reading, etc., your book, having another person go through it with a fine-tooth comb is probably not a bad idea.

When you research someone to handle this for you, think about looking up titles like proofreader and copywriter. Professionals with these job titles can be expected to have experience in the specific tasks you need at this stage of self-publishing.

Artwork

It is quite rare for an author to have the talent to create the artwork that all books need. Traditional publishing houses have established relationships with illustrators and photographers that they will link you up with. When you self-publish, you need to find and pay for, these services independently.

The good news here is that you will collaborate with this other professional on your exact vision. Headshots are a common necessity for authors used in book jackets and other pieces of marketing. You will want to be sure that the picture your readers see of your face represents who you believe yourself to be. A perk of self-publishing is that you do not have to fight for your own vision.

Marketing

Self-publishers have to be their own marketing team and market their work aggressively because they are starting from scratch regarding their credibility. A self-published book does not have big-name backing from the publishing industry, so the name and brand must be built from scratch. Some marketing efforts, like social media, are free, but others come with a cost.

While you have total freedom to market in whatever way you see fit, proven methods work more successfully than others. Consider whether the marketing on your own is enough or whether you want to spend a little money to enter paid markets with greater outreach.

Distribution

A traditional publishing house will handle all the distribution for its authors. When you are self-publishing, this is another aspect that needs to be considered. Things like the printing process, packaging, shipping, and inventory control are your responsibilities. An online retailer might provide support regarding distribution, but utilizing one is not without cost.

Places independent authors self-publish their books

The ‘where’ of self-publishing can be exciting because you have choices, unlike the traditional route. Research the different pathways and determine where you believe you will find the highest level of success.

Amazon

Kindle direct publishing is one of the most popular publishing platforms because the outreach is significant, and the process is relatively easy. A traditional publisher does not have the time to review and support every good idea or story out in the universe, so indie publishing was born out of necessity.

Your target market, the readers, are the true gatekeepers to your success. Self-publishing does not imply that you did not qualify for a traditional publishing deal. In many cases, quite the opposite. Amazon is one of the major publishers for all types of authors, both beginner and experienced.

Apple iBooks

This is a free app within your Mac or iPhone that can facilitate your self-publishing dreams. This platform comes with a little bit more fine print to be aware of, true to Apple form, but there is a significant element of ease if you are familiar with Apple products in general.

Tips for a smooth self-publishing process

The blueprint is yours to create, but here are some things to consider if you want to optimize for specific goals or timelines.

  • Have a professional do your editing
  • Make sure your cover and jacket artwork is aesthetically pleasing and relevant to your book
  • Use smart marketing strategies that have evidence to support their success, do lots of research.
  • Be realistic about how long the process will take, what it will cost, and how much work you’ll have to put in
  • Network as much as possible, even across niches and with competitors

Traditional publishers have a knack for doing most of the heavy lifting, so if your self-publishing expectations align with that fact, you should understand that it will take a little more time getting your ducks in a row. Do not expect the process to be flawless, instead focus on recognizing mistakes and using them as lessons to mitigate them in future projects.

Summary

Self-publishing can be incredibly rewarding. It is not guaranteed to succeed more or less than those who have gone down the traditional publishing process. 

When you seek to self-publish, you have already determined that you want to be in the driver’s seat but understand that there is a need for outside support and resources. When you set out to publish, give yourself some space to have the final result potentially look different than you assumed that it would.

When you, as an author, allow yourself the unique balance of control and flexibility, it can be very powerful. Knowing that the decisions being made are of your own authority but also potential for someone else’s perspective to lead you down a better path is evidence of growth and maturity as an author, businessperson, and person in general.