We live in an author’s world.

It used to be that authors were dependent on publishers for getting their work out into the world and getting paid for their labors. Publishers were the ones with all the power and authors were completely at their mercy.

An author, if they were lucky enough to even have their work accepted, had little choice but to agree to editing changes to their book, and new authors had to submit to title changes, bad covers, terrible back-cover copy. They had no say over how or when their work would be published. And for the honor of having it published, they accepted pitiful advances and as little as 5% net royalties. They were not informed properly of sales, nor even of whether their book had been translated into another language and sold in other countries.

There are advantages of being published by a traditional publisher—distribution and the prestige of having gotten past the gatekeepers. But today authors have so many more choices. There are medium-sized publishers who work on a similar model to the big ones. There are small publishers, and, of course, self-publishing.

Self-publishing has lots of pros and a few cons as well.

The most difficult parts of self-publishing are

1) learning how to do it;
2) finding a team (because even though it’s called” self” publishing, no one can do it on their own;
3) distribution; and
4) marketing.

The pros of self-publishing are:

1) not relying on a large company to prepare and get your work out;
2) being in complete control of every aspect of the final product (editing, cover design, etc); and
3) the potential to earn more money.

Let’s look at all of these in more detail.

1) Learning how to self-publish isn’t actually that difficult. There are loads of classes and coaches to teach you. There is a learning curve, however.

2) To find the right team can be tricky. The best way is through asking other authors in your genre—because you want an editor who knows the conventions of the genre, and the same with your cover designer.

3) If you self-publish, online distribution is easy. You can publish directly with Amazon, Barnest Noble, Kobo, Apple, and Google Books. There are distributors like Draft2Digital, Ingram Spark, PublishDrive, and StreetLib to reach libraries and foreign markets. The hard part is getting your work into physical bookstores. A personal connection usually needs to be made, and it’s best if your book is available through Ingram, the catalogue most booksellers buy from.

4) Marketing can be done by the author, or you can take a chance on hiring someone but they must know the book market—a very niche place. It also can cost a great deal of money, no matter how you go about it, and money is something many authors have in short supply.

For the pros, just not being beholden to any one else for product (editing, cover, etc) design is worth it. And a self-published author will earn between 35% and 75% of royalties on ebooks sold—depending on the price of the book and the retailer. For print-on-demand, the amount earned is usually much less simply because of the physical costs involved.

Now, if an author is looking for a happy medium between a traditional publisher and self-publishing, there are small publishers who will do all the work involved in the publishing process but also give the author a say in some aspects of the process—title and cover design, usually. For the benefit of having someone else do all the hard work, an author will split the royalties—usually a 60/40 split with 60% going to the publisher and 40% to the author. The best small publishers are, like editors, genre-specific. That way they know the conventions and who to market the book to.

Where do you find a small publisher? Once again, speaking with other authors is the key. You can, of course, look on the copyright page of books you enjoy, but many independent authors now give a name—an “imprint”—to themselves to make it look like there is a publisher behind them.

There are many different considerations, when deciding how to publish a book—mainly how much control you want over the process. But you, the author, now have a choice. You are the one with the power to say how you want your book published. It is your work.

If you are a romance author, Annessa Ink is now accepting submissions. If you want to learn how to self-publish for yourself, contact me. I am a publishing coach and can teach you all you need to know.