The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

With self-publishing so accessible, and the options so varied, author David Chitty explores the pros and cons of self-publishing.

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Over the last few years, self-publishing has experienced a massive boost in its popularity. I, myself, have self-published. It’s an amazing platform for people to get their work read by countless people. It’s an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. Can you?

There are numerous pros and cons to self-publishing.

Pro: Anyone can do it

All you need is an internet connection and whatever work you’d like to publish. There are different types of publishing available to you; you can print your books and sell them yourself, and you can supply book stores that are happy to accept self-published books. Some of these options, however, require a lot more work and preparation, plus money if you’d like to print the books and sell them yourself, and you may need to buy an ISBN. If you’re after a basic, simple experience, you can simply upload a document to a website and the rest is done for you.

Con: Anyone can do it

Because self-publishing has become so common place these days, the market is becoming saturated with content. This means that it is very easy to get lost in the sea of books out there. Even if your product is the greatest book that has ever been written, there’s a good chance that very few people will actually read it. This is something you’ll have to contend with no matter how you publish; there aren’t two separate markets. But, self-publishing, you have to do all of the marketing yourself. If you go down the traditional path, however, it’s in the publisher’s best interest to push a bit of their budget towards marketing your book. This helps your product rise to the top of the pile and get noticed.

Pro: You don’t need anyone else

There are publishing houses that don’t require your manuscript be sent through an agent. These, however, are often smaller and are few and far between. Agents are a great gateway betwixt you and the publishers. If you get a good one, they will work their hardest to get your book published and can open the doors to the big publishing houses. Agents aren’t the easiest things in the world to get. If you self-publish, you can cut out this whole process.

Con: You don’t need anyone else

A bit of a controversial point, but hear me out. There is an awful lot of crap in the self-publishing world. Don’t get me wrong, publishing houses push out crap too, but when I’m looking at a book I’m interested in the publisher plays a role in my decision. If it’s from Harper Collins, I know that it’s gone through numerous steps and processes before it gets to me. It’s probably going to be of a certain standard. Self-published books can literally be published by anybody. Most will have no editorial process and have no quality control in place. Unfortunately, that means that I’m worried about spending money on a self-published book. I’ll get one that’s free, but I’m probably not going to spend money on it. And I self-publish myself. There is some great content out there that has been self-published; nevertheless, the crap colours people’s views on self-publishing. That’s something that you’ll have to overcome if you go down that route.

Pro: You don’t share royalties

Let’s be honest, you don’t get into writing for the money. Few authors achieve the massive success required to make billions, some do enough to make a living from it, but a large portion of authors do not earn enough to write as their full time job. If you go down the traditional publishing route you’ll split the royalties between the publisher, your agent and yourself. How much money you make will depend on the cuts your agent and publisher take, but it’s usually going to be in the realm of 20%. I get 69% royalties from my book sales from eBooks and about 40% from any hard copies I sell through print-on-demand. The royalties you earn will differ depending on the route that you take, but, in general, it’s more than you’ll get through traditional publishing.

Con: You don’t share royalties

I know I just finished telling you that the money is better through self-publishing, but you also need to consider the other side of the story. Your money per unit sold will probably be high if you self-publish. However, with an agent and a publishing house working towards getting your book sold, there’s a high chance that you will sell more units. More units means more money in your pocket, despite the lower per unit value.


There are more pros and cons than this, but hopefully I’ve given you something to think about when deciding what to do with your finished work.

David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.

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