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What are the Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing?

Diana Bocco
Updated May 23, 2024
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If you have a book in your hands and are considering getting it "out there," you will soon find out that your options are overwhelming. The main thing to consider, however, is whether you will self-publish your book or not. Self-publishing means you will take complete charge of your manuscript, from production to marketing. This has its pros and cons, all of which you should keep in mind when considering self-publishing.


  • The main advantage of self-publishing is the immediate reward. Traditional publishing requires sending out your manuscript out over and over again until it finds a home, dealing with rejections, and maybe rewriting it to fit a publisher's or agent's requests. All this is part of the normal process of publishing, but, again, it takes time.

  • In the past, self-publishing meant that you had to order thousands of books and then pile them up somewhere in your garage, but the advent of Print-on-Demand Publishing (POD) means you can do now order one copy at a time, making self-publishing affordable to everybody.

  • Self-publishing is a great option for speakers, professors, and experts who have a following and can tap into a niche market eager for information. Those who are targeting a specific niche have more of a chance of selling a reasonable number of copies.


  • Self-publishing can get expensive. Even with POD publishers, you are still using your own money to buy an ISBN, paying for copies in advance, and marketing and distributing your book.

  • Self-publishing means you are the only one in charge of promotion. If you are shy or have trouble dealing with numbers, this may not be the best option for you. When promoting your book, you need to be relentless and willing to go the distance; otherwise, the book is probably doomed before it even hits the streets.

  • In self-publishing, you don't have an editor to guide you through the process, helping you weed out bad grammar, flowery writing, and unnecessary words. Traditionally published books are always awarded an editor, which makes them ready for the market and more able to compete with the millions of other titles out there.
Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various businesses. With a data-focused approach and a talent for sharing engaging stories, Diana’s written work gets noticed and drives results.
Discussion Comments
By MrsPramm — On Mar 30, 2014

@bythewell - There are plenty of publishing houses out there who are exploiting authors. They are still the best way to go if you can get your book in with a good one.

But if you can't for whatever reason, then self publishing is an option, particularly now when it's cheaper and easier than ever. Just go about it the right way. Hire your own editor. Buy a professional cover. Do some research on publicity. And most importantly, be prolific. The self publishers who are making money are the ones who write a lot and write it fast and well.

By bythewell — On Mar 29, 2014

@umbra21 - Publishers tend to take a long time because they do a professional job. I know everyone thinks it's easy to just slap a few words on the page and upload them to Amazon for instant gratification, but those books tend to be terrible.

Publishing involves a great deal more than what you might see on the surface. And publicity alone is worth the wait. They might not promote your book forever, but they will be able to put more weight behind it for the time that they do publish it than a self publisher can usually produce in years.

Publishing houses want authors to succeed, because when the authors make money, the company makes money. I don't know why people seem to think they are simply trying to exploit authors.

By umbra21 — On Mar 28, 2014

The thing is, even if you somehow manage to get an agent and publisher interested right away in your manuscript (which is unlikely, but could happen) you will still wait up to two years for your book to be published. Trade publishing takes a very long time and it can also end up being only a flash in the pan for you, because they don't tend to keep books on the shelf unless they sell really well immediately.

So you might end up waiting two or more years and then your book will only be in stores for a couple of months. Whereas, if you self publish, you control when and where and for how long your book is published. If you go the ebook route, then it can just be up on the internet forever, making you money.

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various...
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