5 reasons to self-publish

By   Hannah Bickerton 3 min read

whitefox: helping brands, thought leaders and writers create beautiful bespoke books

Let’s look at this initially through the other end of the metaphorical telescope.

There are, of course, lots of reasons not to self-publish. It can sometimes feel like a lonely business. You have to have a lot of stamina. Telling the world that your book exists and ought to be read does not always play well for the introverted and reticent, even online. And there are some things that are just really hard to execute as an individual writer without a traditional network of established connections. International distribution. Rights sales. Translation.

But there are also plenty of reasons to think it could be for you. Here are five positives that might help you make up your mind.

Creative control

As long as you are collaborating with professionals in their respective fields of expertise, you will always still have the final say on things that really matter to you – cover design, format, approach to marketing and PR. You are driving the direction of travel for publication, not a group of individuals in different departments within publishing houses who may or may not even have read your book. So your passion and vision, honed whilst creating the book, can take centre stage throughout the process.

If I’m going to be doing all the marketing anyway…

Even if you were being traditionally published, these days your publisher and agent would be asking you to do a lot of the day-to-day donkey work. What does your network look like, how is your commitment to social media, who do you know who can spread the word and give you an endorsement online? So if you are going DIY, it isn’t such a leap of imagination to think that your knowledge and proximity to your own book may just be the biggest asset you have in persuading people to buy it.

I am addicted to learning

Self-publishing is a process of almost constant trial and error. If you like the idea of seeing each new book as launching a small business, you’ll love learning through the iterative process of what does and doesn’t work. And keep adding value as you continue your writing career.

I want to control the timeline

You should always see the run-up to the release of your book as an opportunity to make it as good as it can possibly be editorially and from a design perspective. And you need to be confident in the marketing strategy pre- and post-publication. But traditional publishers are also making sure your book fits in with their schedules across potentially any number of different imprints and are working on long lead time selling cycles with some bricks and mortar retailers. Which may not be relevant to you and the specific opportunities you have created for the oxygen of PR awareness.

Imprints and brands matter as consumer differentiators, right?

Logos on spines and brand awareness are important, yes? Well… beyond a few exceptions, very few have any real resonance with the general reading public. Just look at the overall bestseller lists on Amazon at any given hour of the day, and there are often new imprints listed as publishers that have been created for that single publication or that might have been recently set up by traditional publishing conglomerates. These names may mean something to the editors in charge and to some stakeholders within their business. But that’s about it.

If it is right for you and your book, taking your own book to market could be the best option. And as we often say to writers and brands, these various routes are not mutually exclusive. There is nothing a traditional publisher likes more than a successful indie self-published author who knows their readers, has experimented with what works and doesn’t work on marketing and has data to show that they are selling.

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.