More and more people are writing books these days because the rise of the self-publishing industry has made the process easier and more accessible to the average person.

In fact, you probably know someone who has self-published a book.

In 2008, the number of print-on-demand books exceeded traditional books for the first time in U.S. publishing history. Print on demand is a digital technique that is economical for small-press runs.

Authors who choose this route hire publishing companies for a range of fee-based services, such as editing, design, marketing, advertising, and public relations. Of all of these services, hiring an editor is the best investment of your money, according to David Carnoy, executive editor of CNET, in his article of 25 self-publishing tips.

One thing to keep in mind: Niche/specialty books sell better than fiction, which is also true of the traditional route.

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  • You don’t have to invest a lot of time shopping for agents and publishers, as well as coping with rejection.
  • The public’s perception of self-published books is becoming more favorable, shedding the somewhat disrespectful reputation.
  • Print on demand is much cheaper, quicker and simpler. You’re the boss and have complete control, so you are not dependent on other people.
  • It’s accessible to the average person; you don’t have to be famous or a big name.
  • eBook publishers incur less expense, such as no printing or distribution costs, so royalty payments to authors is usually 40 percent of wholesale price, compared to 15 percent of traditional publishing.
  • If you have a niche concept, you can promote it as a boutique book, instead of competing commercially with mainstream markets, such as Wal-Mart. (Note: To successfully achieve this approach, you must produce a professional, high-quality book, so that’s why hiring an editor is so important.)
  • It’s an excellent supplemental marketing opportunity to boost business profits. For example, a self-defense teacher can sell instructional books after the class is over, recapping the techniques.
  • Even established, successful authors are being left behind in the wake of traditional publishers’ battle with the digital revolution. With less revenue these days, publishers are offering authors significantly less marketing support.


  • Some people think traditional publishing legitimizes and validates authors.
  • You must conceive and execute a marketing/promotion strategy yourself.
  • Be cautious: Some traditional houses are taking advantage of aspiring authors by offering self-publishing imprints and selling expensive packages to those who they rejected. In addition, literary agents may begin to reap referral fees for navigating authors toward self-publishing.
  • Heavyweight, traditional media don’t typically review self-published books. But other alternatives are emerging, such as blog reviews. Respectable book reviewers, such as Kirkus, offer special review services geared for self-published authors. The author pays for the review (about $400-$550, depending on the speed), and a freelancer writes an objective critique. Also, Midwest Book Review gives priority to small publishers and self-publishers.
  • Bookstores are hesitant to stock self-published books, and it’s nearly impossible to get prominent display. Keep in mind, though, even traditional books have only a handful of copies and a fairly short shelf life. Moreover, your royalty there slides to about 10 percent.

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