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Self-Publishing Books or Collections

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 19 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Self-publication; Self-publish; Poetry;

In an age where marketing opportunities abound, both on- and off-line, increasing numbers of creative writers are choosing to self-publish their books, plays or collections.

By essentially bypassing the “traditional” route of agents and publishers, these authors hope to reap 100% of the profits of bringing a literary work to the public. As exciting as the process may appear, it can be fraught with hidden costs and intricate problems.

If you’ve ever tossed around the notion of self-publishing, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to consider before making the leap into this nonconformist style of getting your work into print.

ADVANTAGE: You’ll have editorial control over your work.

By self-publishing, you’ll never have to worry about having a bevy of opinionated editors pick over your writings until you barely recognise them anymore. Though it would behoove you to pay someone to ensure that your text is grammatically correct and has a decent cadence, you certainly are under no obligation to “cow-tow” to someone else’s whim. This means that the piece you publish will reflect exactly what you want to say… and generally speaking, how you want to say it.

DISADVANTAGE: You’ll have to pay out of your own pocket for all upfront costs.

If you’re working solo (rather than with an agent or publisher), you’ll incur all the expenses that go with publication. This means that every sheaf of paper, every publicity release, every phone call will be paid from your personal (or business) bank account. Therefore, you’ll need to plan for funding by saving over a period of time, obtaining a loan or opening a line of credit.

ADVANTAGE: You’ll be able to market your book the way you want.

Do you have a background in public relations? Have you ever thought, “I’d love to market a book! I’d be so much better at it than anyone else.”? If so, you’re likely to enjoy the self-promotional aspects of publishing your works without outside assistance. Though you’ll have to make all the contacts on your own (which can be difficult), you’ll have a huge sense of accomplishment when your works make it to bookstore shelves.

DISADVANTAGE: You won’t have a large publishing house behind you.

Agents and publishers are familiar with trends and markets; they also know one another and have contracts with larger booksellers. Unless you come from the publishing industry, you won’t have the benefit of those immediate inroads. Instead, you’ll have to develop your own networks, which can take plenty of time and cost substantial amounts of money.

ADVANTAGE: You’ll retain all the rights to your book or collection.

Because you’ll be self-publishing, you’ll be able to hold onto the copyright of your piece(s). This is tremendously appealing, especially to creative authors who feel that they have been “burned” by unscrupulous contract arrangements in the past.

DISADVANTAGE: Your book advances? Zero.

Published writers who work through agents are accustomed to receiving upfront advances; but if you’re self-publishing, you won’t receive a penny until you’ve sold copies of your book. That means you’ll be working for nothing until sales reach an “in-the-black” point, which could take a year or longer.

ADVANTAGE: You can be as creative as possible.

Want to sell your collection of short stories online? Do it! Want to turn your poems into a line of self-published greeting cards that are offered on your personal blog? Go for it! When you are in control of how you get your writings to readers, you can use your imagination. You’ll never have more freedom, so if you yearn to take a calculated risk, self-publication may be the best route for you.

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