Is Self-Publishing the best Option for Authors?

Iris Hunter

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For many people, trying to get a book published by a traditional publisher can be rough and sometimes seem impossible. According to Forbes, there are literary agents who do not take self-published books as seriously as traditionally published books because self-published books may be poorly edited, written and/or designed.

However, there is a new route that authors have taken in order to become a published author, which is through self-publishing.

A new analysis of U.S. international standard book number, or ISBN, data by ProQuest affiliate Bowker reveals that the number of self-published titles in 2012 jumped to more than 391,000 books, which is up 59 percent over 2011 and up 422 percent over 2007. E-books continue to gain on print, comprising 40 percent of the ISBNs that were self-published in 2012, up from just 11 percent in 2007, according to Bowker.

What is Self-Publishing?

Many writers have taken advantage of self-publishing and have also found success as a self-published author. Self-publishing is nothing new as famous authors have been doing it for years. These authors include Walt Whitman, author of “Leaves of Grass;” Emily Dickinson, author of “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers;” Jane Austen, author of “Of A Ministry Pitiful, Angry, Mean;” and Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of “The Scarlet Letter.”

Holly Brady, founder of Brady New Media Publishing, describes self-publishing as going directly from the writer to the reader using new media/digital tools. She said that the various options of self-publishing include e-books and printing books using print-on-demand facilities.

Brady is a publishing strategist, editorial consultant and developmental editor and has been helping clients to explore the use of new media tools to produce books and e-books for the past three years.

“Most of the people that I work with are self-publishing books,” she said, as she uses her knowledge and experience in the publishing industry to help these authors. She has worked with senior editors from top U.S. publishing firms including HarperCollins, Random House and Simon & Schuster.

In addition, if an author does not have the necessary skills to complete the self-publishing journey on their own, they have the option to hire a consultant or company to help with the process.

Why has Self-Publishing become so Popular?

So, why have writers decided to step out of the box and self-publish? Actually, there are several main reasons why aspiring writers have chosen this path. Brady said that most people have turned to self-publishing because they can get more royalties as well as more control over how their book reaches the market, the look of the cover, the size of the book, and the editing in the book, among other things.


Self-publishers will receive around 20 to 60 percent of the cost of the book and royalties, according to Brady. Writers of traditionally published books usually receive between 10 and 15 percent.

Sometimes self-publishers are approached by traditional publishers to sign them as a writer. However, they pass up the offer because they can make more money if they remain a self-publisher, Brady said.

Publishing Time

She also said that another reason why individuals are turning to self-publishing is due to the short turnaround time for their book to be published. With self-publishing, a book can be printed within a few weeks. However, traditional publishing companies generally take 18 months to publish a book. During this time the publishers are working with the writer to rework the book, marketing, editing and proofing the book.

“All that takes time and when you are doing 30 books a season it takes a long time to get them all done,” she said.

Brady also said that a book that is self-published will not go out of print, but it will if it is published by a traditional publisher. In addition, traditional publishers will market your book for six weeks and if the sales are not there then they will drop the book and start to sell the next one on the agenda. When they drop the book it usually sits in the catalog for years before the rights revert back to the author.

During this time, the publisher is not really marketing the book. This is when a lot of writers get frustrated because they can’t really do anything without the rights to their book. When the rights revert to the writer this gives them the opportunity to republish the book, Brady said.


Marketing a book as a self-publisher may be somewhat of a challenge, but authors should not get discouraged since using social media can drastically increase their chances of successfully marketing their book. There are various ways that authors can successfully market their book, including sending out press releases and attending events.

A self-publisher can set up a website or blog to help market their book, said Brady. These methods are less costly and can be quite effective.

Traditional publishers have an advantage of marketing books because they have stronger marketing muscle and access into bookstores, she said.

Is Self-Publishing Right for You?

When choosing to self-publish, authors have the opportunity to choose from a variety of options. These choices include print-on-demand publishing, when a book is printed only when it is ordered; electronic—e-book—publishing, when a book is in digital form; or vanity publishing, when authors pay to have their books published.

Nvate Authors, Brady New Media Publishing, createspace, Iris Hunter, literary agents, self-published books, Self-publishing

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There are a variety of things that authors should know before choosing a specific route, including the amount that will need to be invested, the variety of services that the company for the project provides and if the author would like to produce a printed book, an e-book or both.

Aspiring authors can choose from a variety of companies in order to get their work published. A popular company that many authors use is CreateSpace. According to the website, CreateSpace allows their customers to sell books, CDs, and DVDs for a much lesser cost of traditional manufacturing while allowing them to keep more control over their work.

This company offers affordable and professional services that writers can take advantage of when producing their works, including editing, designing and marketing services. Also, in order to maximize sales, an author can sell their book via Amazon, Amazon Europe, their own eStore, Kindle as well as expanded distribution options. In addition, the company offers competitive royalties, affordable copies for authors, and no set-up fees, among other things.

Many people who are just starting out in their career are good candidates for self-publishing, said Brady. In addition, publishing requires a series of skills—editing, production, design and marketing. Brady said that most people do not have all these skills themselves, so therefore they hire consultants to help them with the self-publishing process.

Brady knows how frustrating going the self-publishing route can be so she makes sure that she guides her clients through the entire process. In addition, she said that when she consults with an individual one of the things that she does is develop a road map of how to get their book published. “Some people just want a road map and nothing more,” she said.

In addition, she said that she also sits down with her clients to find out what their skills are as well as the tasks that they would like for her to complete and that depending on the type of work that clients hire her to do, it can be very labor intensive.

Self-publishers are bringing more experience and skills to their work and there are so many people who use self-publishing tools well and part of that is because of the new media tools, she said.

The Future of Self-Publishing

An individual could become a successful self-published author, especially since the future of self-publishing looks promising. According to ParkCulture magazine, in 2008, for the first time, more books were self-published than those published traditionally. In 2009, 76 percent of all books released were self-published, while publishing houses reduced the number of books they produced. Within three years, 75 percent of books will be sold online with 50 percent as e-books and 25 percent as printed books. Only 25 percent of books will be sold in physical bookstores.

There are authors who have gained national attention after self-publishing their book, including Amanda Hocking, a paranormal, romance, young-adult fiction writer. According to her website, she is a USA Today bestselling author with her Trylle trilogy and six additional self-published novels. In addition, she has gained self-publishing success after selling over a million copies of her books, mostly in e-book format.

Self-publishing can be an exciting and frightening experience and is probably not a good choice from some individuals. However, if an author would like full control of their book, then self-publishing may be the path that they should take when trying to become a published author.

To learn more about self-publishing and the services she offers, visit Brady’s website.

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