When you first have to make the choice between self-publishing or traditionally publishing your book, you would undoubtedly be bombarded with several common misconceptions about self-publishing. With the high availability of, and preference for, ebooks, more authors are turning to self-publishing—but even more are plagued by myths and uncertainties.
Most of these myths are often out-dated, while some of them never had any basis in truth. The number of authors who started off their writing career with self-publishing and met with success and worldwide acclaim are many, despite common misconceptions. Following are some such myths that still circulate within the publishing community.
1. Self-Published Books Are of Low Quality
Most people inadvertently assume that self-publishing is for books that aren’t good enough to be picked up by traditional publishing companies. Therefore, for decades, self-publishing has been looked upon as inferior and less prestigious in comparison.
But that is simply not true, considering the fact that more talented authors go into self-publishing because of its convenience and the independence it offers to authors. Many authors who later gained worldwide fame were actually first self-published—like Ernest Hemingway, Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf.
A modern example of a self-published author who gained international recognition is Christopher James Paolini, the author of The Inheritance Cycle, who self-published his book at 15 years old.
Also, one important thing to remember: just because a renowned publishing house published a book doesn’t make that book of a better quality. It all comes down to the author.
2. You Make Less Money Off Self-Publishing
When traditionally publishing your book, your publisher will take care of most of the costs—editing, cover design, marketing, promoting, etc. Therefore, you are often left with about 10-15% of sales royalties for your book. Meanwhile, successful self-published authors can even enjoy up to 50-70% of sales royalties, while also cutting down costs of cover design and posters by learning to do it themselves.
Furthermore, self-published authors also have the freedom to set their own prices and offer discounts as they see fit.
3. You Can’t Switch to Traditional Publishing From Self-Publishing
Christopher Paolini, after self-publishing his first book in The Inheritance Cycle, was picked up by Knopf Books and republished later. The rest of the series was published by Knopf. Similarly, Margaret Atwood, who self-published her first collection of poetry, published The Handmaid’s Tale traditionally later on. Mark Twain, tired of all the effort involved in going through agents, chose to self-publish The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, regardless of being well-known by the literary world.
There is no one path to choose—and no one to stick to, once chosen. You can always publish traditionally after being self-published, and vice versa.
4. Traditional Publishers Will Do All of Your Marketing
While traditional publishing companies do take up a large chunk of marketing and promotion upon themselves, that doesn’t mean you have nothing to worry about besides writing—which is not the reality at all. Publishers, sadly, pay more attention to the books of celebrity authors (since they already have an established fanbase) and put everything else behind.
Therefore, whether self-publishing or traditionally publishing, authors need to know the basics of marketing anyway. Everybody has to fret about marketing!
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.
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