Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: November 19th, 2009 ]

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!

– Karl Schroeder



If you happened to read Karl’s original post six years ago and if you happened also to keep up with current affairs in the self-publishing and traditional publishing industries, you’ll know that very little–if anything–has changed.  Many authors turn to indie, hybrid, and self-publishing platforms because they’re driven away from the Big Five, either by the industry professionals themselves (i.e. outright rejections of book proposals) or by ideological differences and a desire to remain at the helm of their own publishing experiences.  This is what I call “white space thinking,” in which the predominant motivation is to define our choices by what they are not (“I am not going to publish traditionally because of x, y, or z”) or by what they want to steer clear of (“I don’t want to align myself with x, y, or z trend I see at Hachette, or HarperCollins, or some other Big Five publisher”).  What’s left outside of the margins, in the so-called “white space,” can be loosely described as “independent” publishing.

You don’t have to be running from traditional publishing to choose an alternate method, however.  There are a lot of reasons to run to self-publishing, without reference to the ills and crimes of a more traditional path.  While the reasons Karl states above remain accurate and true, I’d like to thicken out his list with a few additions that illustrate how positivity can actually be one of the foundational motivating factors for indie authors today.  And so, without any further ado, here are my additional 7 reasons to self-publish:

  1. You get to create your own timeline, from start to finish.  Your book might take two months, or two years, or two decades, but it will ultimately turn out true to your vision if you get to define your own benchmarks, deadlines, and so on.
  2. The process is simple, and not even  “simpler than….”  It’s just plain streamlined, start to finish, because you are your own middleman, and you are a marketing, design, and decision-making committee of one.  There will always be some fine print to wade through, but on the whole it’s not uncommon to panic at the sheer ease with which you can click your way into self-publication.
  3. The time is right.  There’s a whole slew of options to choose from in terms of indie, hybrid, and self-publishing platforms–and they’re all pretty good, and they’re all continually pushing themselves to do better, since the competition between developers and software designers is fierce.  We’ve crossed a kind of rubicon when it comes to forward momentum in the industry: companies have all the motivation they need to keep improving the user experience.  Self-publishing has gained the luster of a successful niche market, and is rapidly leaving stigma behind in the dust, while commercially successful self-published books rake in the film options and substantial net profits.  You can now make a name for yourself as an indie author!
  4. You can actually break new ground.  Without the checks and balances that tie up any big industry or company, you can quite literally strike out into uncharted waters and be at the forefront of a conversation, putting out timely book after timely book that reaches people where they’re at, while this or that specific issue is at the peak of popular interest.  You can write a book that future readers will call “prescient,” simply because you’re on the cutting edge, predicting and creating new paradigms–and perhaps even new genres!
  5. You can revise your book on the fly, at will.  You created this book, you own all of the rights to it, and you can re-release it if something about it strikes you as needing a little more work later on down the line.  This falls in line with other matters of creative control, as you get to call the shots on every detail that you want to … and you can offload the minutiae to a hybrid publishing company to free up your valuable time to do more of what you really love.  Which is, of course, writing.
  6. You can write responsively, because you have at your disposal some of the finest analytics tools ever designed for authors.  You can watch, in real time, what readers respond to–and tweak your writing process to deliver more of the same, or, alternatively, to make an unexpected turn and give them something they never knew that they wanted, something that isn’t pandering to popular acclaim.  You see everything, and you can make decisions in response to reader interactions that no one in the history of publishing–of any kind, period–has been able to make before!
  7. You’re a believer.  You don’t just own the rights to your self-published book, you own the vision for its totality, from the first splash of ink to the last burst of pixels.  You don’t need a team to tell you what’s what or how good a writer you are; you already know.  You already know that you have something to say that others need to hear, or see, but above all encounter.  And with that kind of conviction, you can cut through all the white noise and baffling criticisms and bureaucracy and simply do what you were born to do: write your book, and publish it on your own terms.  You believe in yourself and your book, and I do to.  All of us here at Self Publishing Advisor do!  ♠
KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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