Self-publishing has been around for decades, and for a long time, it was viewed as a “scam,” merely a way companies got rich off the hopes and dreams of otherwise would-be “legitimately” published authors. However, in the electronic age, self-publishing is becoming more widespread, more accepted, and less expensive. Writers who have grown tired of beating a path to large publishing houses are turning to self-publishing companies and some writers are experiencing more than a modicum of success.

But are there good reasons to self-publish? And what are the reasons people shouldn’t self-publish their book?

Why People Choose to Self-Publish Their Books

When a person has spent perhaps years writing his “great American novel,” he doesn’t want to spend another several years simply trying to get someone to look at it. Writing, while satisfying, is a difficult, arduous task, and depending on the habits of the writer and the length of his novel, writing a book literally can take years.

Marketing one’s book takes a large amount of time as well. Many publishers won’t look at someone’s book unless she has an agent. So, whether an author is marketing her book to a publisher or an agent (or both), she has to “sell” her work. This means she not only has to have a manuscript in great order, but she also has to put together a synopsis of the book (one that meets the demands of whomever she is submitting to, because requirements do vary) as well as a query letter that gets the attention of a publisher or agent. And some agents/publishers require even more items along with a submission. Add to that that some agents/publishers will not accept simultaneous submissions (thereby increasing the time it takes to market said book), an author can begin to feel quite frustrated.

So, simply said, here are the reasons an author might choose to self-publish:

  • It saves time. Rather than spend months and months marketing one’s book, the writer instead spends time preparing the manuscript for publication.
  • It could save money. Some self-publishers don’t charge writers for their services. Marketing one’s book to agents and publishers costs money that can add up. Granted, many publishers accept email submissions but not all do. Mailing and printing costs accumulate over time.
  • It’s gratifying. It’s nice for an author to be able to hold his book in his hands and say to the world he did it. There’s little satisfaction in showing friends a pile of rejection slips.

Reasons Why People Reject Self-Publishing

If self-publishing were so great, every writer would do it. But there are some things that writers will want to consider before deciding to go the self-publishing route.

  • Some self-publishing companies charge for their services. And while some services might be free, some have hidden costs. Authors will want to carefully research before making their decision.
  • Most self-publishing companies do little or no marketing, so even though an author has her book in print, it’s not in the public eye. The writer may need to do marketing on her own (which costs money). Some writers are able to arrange book signings, but they must also have the books available, and most self-publishing companies are print-on-demand (POD), meaning they print books as they are purchased (again, money the writer must spend up front).
  • Some authors don’t want to tell people that they have self-published their book. There is still a stigma associated with self-publishing, and many writers would rather admit they were are still getting rejection slips from large publishing houses.
  • Most self-publishing companies do no proofreading; it’s up to the author to make sure his manuscript is print ready. That means the book will be published, mistakes and all. Some writers don’t want to take that chance.

To Self-Publish or Not?

Some writers will decide, after thinking it through, to continue pursuing publication through traditional paths, no matter what the outcome. Other authors, though, will decide that self-publishing is a good idea for them. At that point, they will want to begin researching self-publishing houses to decide the best fit for them. At least in this day and age writers have that option available.