Is self-publishing right for me?

These days, there are many different ways to publish a book — each of which comes with its own unique set of advantages and challenges. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to publishing, so it’s essential that you keep an open mind, explore your options, and make a decision based on what makes sense for you and your book.

A Changing Publishing Landscape

In the last few years, the publishing world has undergone an indie revolution similar to what the film and music industries have seen. With the introduction of desktop publishing, print-on-demand technology, and the Internet as a direct-to-consumer distribution channel, more and more authors are finding ways to bring their books to market without relying on agents and traditional publishers.

These changes have made for an exciting time to be an author. However, they’ve also complicated the publishing landscape and added more options for authors to consider. Today, there are four main paths to publication that authors can take. Take a look, and see what you like. The first three approaches are self-publishing options and the fourth is traditional publishing — what Simon & Schuster offers, for example. And the third approach — assisted self-publishing — is what you’ll get with Archway Publishing.


1. Do-It-Yourself

With do-it-yourself publishing, an author typically uploads a manuscript to an online tool to create a book and get it into distribution. Some of these solutions are limited in the formats they produce (often e-book only) or in their distribution channels. However, if you follow through, you can get your book formatted and available for sale in at least one format and through at least one online retailer for little to no cost. Many of these options are promoted as “free,” but you will likely need to spend some money on editing and marketing if you want your book to be taken seriously (see General Contractor option below). Because you won’t be using the professional services of others, your finished book could end up lacking proper editing, cover design, marketing copy, etc.

  • Pros: Usually the least amount of financial investment needed to publish a book in at least one format. You maintain the rights to your work.
     
  • Cons: Formatting and distribution options can be limited. Most options do not include any professional services.


2. General Contractor

This approach to publishing requires hiring a number of independent service providers (an editor, book designer, publicist, etc.) and coordinating their activities. Depending on which services you choose and which vendors you use, this option can require the largest financial investment of any of the three self-publishing paths. Of course, you won’t know exactly how much you could end up spending until you get all your quotes and estimates from potential vendors. And depending on whether you act as your own general contractor or hire someone else, this process can take the most amount of time to manage and coordinate the different people and processes involved.

  • Pros: You get to hand-select the types of services you want for your book, plus the exact individuals and companies you want to work with.
     
  • Cons: Requires a large amount of coordination and communication on your part. Easy to get overwhelmed and potentially spend more than anticipated.


3. Assisted Self-Publishing

This is the approach we at Archway Publishing offer to our authors. As an author services provider, we bundle all the services you would need to get a book on the market. We offer publishing packages that include varying levels and types of services to help authors with production, formatting, distribution, marketing, etc. With a full menu of professional add-on services for publishing, promoting and selling your book, this approach offers a one-stop shop for everything you might need to meet your publishing goal. While choosing a publishing package with an assisted self-publishing company requires an upfront financial investment, there is a range of offerings and price points to choose from. You’ll know from the start what you will get and what it will cost. Plus, you’ll have only one vendor relationship to manage, no matter how many services you use.

  • Pros: One-stop shop for everything you need to publish, promote and distribute your book. The cost of publishing is clear from the start.
     
  • Cons: Typically requires a greater upfront investment than the do-it-yourself approach. Publishing packages might not include the exact number and type of services you need, though customization is usually possible and Archway has created 25 different packages to serve a variety of author needs.


4. Traditional Publishing

Even in the face of exciting new options, traditional publishing remains a popular and viable path for authors today. This approach typically involves finding an agent who would represent you and take your project to publishers with the hopes of selling it and getting an advance against future royalties.

If you do find an agent to represent you and then a traditional publisher acquires your work for publication, you will benefit from an organization whose sole focus is preparing and packaging books for publication; including editing, sales support that gets your book into stores and online retailers, and marketing and publicity efforts that help readers discover the book.

  • Pros: The publisher will typically use their editorial expertise to improve the quality of your manuscript, provide sales and marketing support and pay an advance against future royalties.
     
  • Cons: There’s no guarantee of finding a publisher. 

 

 

Do-It-Yourself

 

General Contractor

 

Assisted Self-Publishing

 

Traditional Publishing

 
Pros: Pros: Pros: Pros:
Usually the least amount of financial investment needed to publish a book in at least one format. You maintain the rights to your work. You get to hand-select the types of services you want for your book, plus the exact individuals and companies you want to work with. You maintain the rights to your work. One-stop shop for everything you need to publish, promote and distribute your book. The cost of publishing is clear from the start. You maintain the rights to your work. The publisher will typically use their editorial expertise to improve the quality of your manuscript, provide sales and marketing support and pay an advance against future royalties.
Cons: Cons: Cons: Cons:
Formatting and distribution options can be limited. Most options do not include any professional services.  Requires a large amount of coordination and communication on your part. Easy to get overwhelmed and spend more than anticipated. Typically requires a greater upfront investment than the do-it-yourself approach. Publishing packages might not include the exact number and type of services you need, though customization is usually possible. There’s no guarantee of finding a publisher.


How do you know which path is best for you?

In order to choose a path to publication that makes sense for you, it’s important to set realistic goals, understand your skill set, and determine what financial and time commitments you’re willing to make.

To see if Archway Publishing is the right choice for you, give us a call to discuss the goals you have in mind for your book.