The pros and cons of self-publishing

By   Hannah Bickerton 2 min read

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In 2018 the self-publishing market grew by 40%, with more than one million books being self-published in the US alone. The self-publishing industry has been growing steadily for decades, and it doesn’t look set to stop any time soon. So, why are so many people choosing to self-publish? What sets it apart from traditional publishing? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing. 

Self-publishing Pros:

  • Money: If you manage to sell enough copies, self-publishing clearly wins out on the financial front. Most self-publishing platforms (Amazon, IngramSpark) pay on a monthly basis, as opposed to the quarterly payments provided by publishing houses. This means that you’ll have a regular, generous income coming in, without harsh royalty terms. Some authors even continue to self-publish once they’re represented, because the financial reward is too great to give up!
  • Control: With self-publishing, creative control is unlimited. If you’re looking to create a niche project aimed towards a particular group, or simply to exercise complete control over the project management, design and marketing of your book, you can find a self-publishing company that will be more than happy to help you. You also have complete control over the creation of audio-books and e-books.
  • Time: Unlike traditional publishing, it could be a matter of months before your book is published: it’s up to you!
  • The future: Even if you choose to self-publish because you’re struggling to get represented, bear in mind that traditional publishers are keeping a close eye on self-published titles, making sure they’re not missing out. There’s still a chance you will be published traditionally as well.


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Self-publishing Cons:

  • Risk: When you publish a book with a publisher, they are investing in you, it’s their risk to take. When you self-publish and retain your rights, that’s your risk, meaning that you will have to cover the costs involved after publication (inventory, storage, admin, etc.) will cost you. This is why many authors choose to print on demand (POD).
  • Legwork: Self-publishing companies vary, and you have to choose the right one depending on your specific needs. Unless you pay for the whole publishing package, there’s going to be a lot of legwork to be done. If you’re up for that, and you have the time, great! If not, you may find that you’re a little out of your depth. 
  • Reputation: There are lots of different rumours and assumptions surrounding self-publishing. Often people mix it up with vanity publishing, which is when an individual simply pays a company to publish their book. This stigma could lead to a level of insecurity when exploring the self-publishing route. However, the more people self-publish, the more people will realise that it’s a viable and respectable route to take; so respectable that even authors like Virginia Woolf and EE Cummings chose it.

We hope this has given you some understanding of self-publishing industry, and the pros and cons of going down the independent route. Don’t forget, the most important thing is finding a company that values your book, and the effort you’ve put into it. Good luck on your writing and publishing journey!

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.