I've been asked why I'm self-publishing a book, rather than shopping it around to publishers.
One of the questions that I was asked on a recent Stacking Benjamins podcast, and that I've been asked numerous other times, is why I'm self-publishing a book, rather than trying to get a publisher interested.
This question is one that all aspiring book authors have to wrestle with at some point, and it makes sense to take a look at some of the advantages of self-publishing.
My Experience with Publishing a Book
I have other experiences related to book publishing (you can see them on my Amazon author profile). The first book project I had published was a compilation; I was listed as the editor. I put the whole book together. I was paid a flat fee for my services, and the publisher gets all of the profits (if it's making anything). The flat fee was nice because it seemed big at the time, and since I was just starting out, it was very helpful to my family.
The next book I published was one that I co-authored. It was a good experience. I worked with Robyn Tippins, and the book was published by Happy About. They paid the costs, and took care of a lot of the marketing. It was pretty great. We get a cut of the profits. And, unfortunately, we are just getting to the point where we can expect a royalty check. A small royalty check.
I don't regret these experiences, and I'm thinking about publishing another book with Happy About. However, for Confessions of a Professional Blogger, I decided to self-publish.
Self-Publishing a Book
For the most part, self-publishing a book allows you a great deal of freedom. I can write it the way I want, I'm in charge of designing to look how I want it to look, and I get to keep the profits.
Of course, it means a lot of work and some expense. Hiring a professional editor, having the book professionally designed and formatted, and marketing the book all cost money. And I have to foot the bill, rather than have a publisher pay for it. (This is why I am running an Indiegogo campaign; so that I can offset some of the costs involved in self-publishing a book. You can also read about why I ended up using Indiegogo.)
What I'm excited about, mainly, is the potential for keeping the profits. If this works out, my book (and future books, if I decide it's worth the risk to write more) can become a source of revenue. That, in turn, would free me up to pursue other interesting writing projects.
One of the things that keeps from taking risks right now is that I don't really have the resources to do so. I've got a mortgage and a family to feed. Self-publishing a book is a chance to provide the stable groundwork for (perhaps) transitioning as a freelance writer and professional blogger into the next phase of my career.
But it's a risk.
I'm not doing this just for legitimacy, although that is one aspect (nothing says “legitimate businessperson” like a professional-looking book). I'm also doing it because I hope to earn some money with it. I've made it useful, and it will be reasonably priced, because I want to help others, but let's not pretend that this completely altruistic.
So far, I've enjoyed the self-publishing thing. I have more control over the process and the final project, and I'm excited about its potential.