7 Reasons to Self-Publish, From the Top…

I’ve helped savvy authors transition their books away from traditional publishing houses, newly publishing authors make informed decisions to pursue other options, and even had personal experience publishing under my own traditional contract. Here are the top 7 or so reasons to re-consider holding out for that traditional contract and self-publish today…

7 – Traditional publishers lose money on over 85% of the books they publish, so they only accept 2% of those that are submitted.

6 – Traditional publishers typically accept manuscripts only from established authors who have already demonstrated a proven platform.

5 – Authors lose all control of their content during the editing process with a Traditional Publisher.

4 – Authors must still invest an enormous amount of time, energy, and money promoting a traditionally-published book.

3- Traditional Publishing: Authors typically receive 5-10% royalty on the wholesale price of the book, and from that have to give 15-25% to their agent. Do the math.

2 – The majority of books published by Traditional publishers go out of print within 3 years. Many books that are stocked on book shelves remain stocked for as little as five weeks before being returned, unsold, to the publisher.

1- Traditional publishers acquire all rights to your book and keep them, even when the book goes out of print or the publisher goes out of business!

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– Karl Schroeder

5 thoughts on “7 Reasons to Self-Publish, From the Top…

  1. Interesting post, but number 5 simply isn’t true. Editorial input is thorough and often desperately needed, and self-published books can show the lack of it. But with a traditional publisher, the author certainly does not lose all control: you have the final say.

    Also, traditional publishers do not keep all the rights to your book if it’s out of print for a certain length of time. The rights revert to the author. As for bookshop shelves – your best chance is with a traditional publisher, even if the shelf-life is short. It is incredibly difficult to get shelf-space for any midlist book; self-published books stand barely any chance at all.

    I am all for self-publishing when the options are exhausted, and it’s a perfectly respectable way of getting into print (if you avoid the vanity boys), but you have to go into it with your eyes open.

    1. Gillan – I cannot stress enough the importance of editorial input, regardless of source. Some self-publishing options do offer some form of that service, although it can be quite a bit more costly than a basic copy edit. Book stores will look for a strong edit, competitive pricing, and compelling cover design/copy when considering stocking any book. While getting a self-published book placed on a brick and mortar shelf is difficult, it is perhaps easier still than getting picked up by a traditional publisher.

      The publishing landscape is changing and we all have the unique opportunity to cultivate and shape its future. There are many options available, and with divergent agenda’s. For any author, don’t jump past thorough research in the temptation of instant gratification. Do the research. Be informed.

  2. While most of your points here are well-taken, point No. 1 is incorrect. Every traditional book publishing contract has a reversion of rights clause that will revert rights to the author once certain conditions are met. Commonly, rights revert after the book has gone out of print.

    All agents vigorously defend an author’s rights in this area and would never allow an author to sign a contract where the publisher kept all rights in perpetuity. (That would be considered a work-for-hire.)

    1. Jane – you’re very right. Thank you for the clarification. While each contract is unique, authors/agents will generally find some form and duration of this clause. Publishers will also often negotiate terms for rights to be sold back to requesting authors for an appropriate fee prior to the term stated in the contract or out-of-print status of a title.

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