After years of practice writing and partial drafts, I finally have a complete book that’s (almost) ready to go out into the world, so I’ve been thinking a lot about publication recently. In particular, I’ve been looking at the big dilemma that authors face these days: do I submit to publishing companies or do I self-publish? Self-publishing used to be a less legitimate and less successful option, but the industry has changed a great deal, and plenty of authors have had great success publishing on Amazon and similar platforms.

After a lot of research, I realized that the big advantages of traditional publishing aren’t as big as they used to be. A publishing house ensures that your book ends up on bookstore shelves — but less than 30% of book sales take place in physical bookstores these days. A publishing house markets your book — but only a little bit, and in most cases still expects the author to handle the book’s publicity. A publishing house gives you a chance at becoming an official bestseller — but bestseller lists are curated and don’t always reflect actual sales numbers. A publishing house does your formatting and cover design for you — but as an artist, I’d really prefer to do all that myself.

In a way, self-publishing is a lot more work. It means I’ll be entirely responsible for editing, formatting, cover design, release schedule, publicity, social media, marketing, talking to local bookstores about carrying copies, and more. But it also means I won’t have to wait months to hear back from publishers, I won’t have to worry about contract details or deadlines, and I won’t have to get permission from my publisher to release excerpts, details, or extra material from my stories. It might be harder to sell large numbers of books on my own, but I’ll get a much higher percentage of the sale price for each book.

It’s hard to let go of the sense of legitimacy that still accompanies traditional publication, and it’s daunting to commit to the amount of work required for self-publication. But after looking at all the pros and cons, double checking my research, and praying over the options (and checking my research again, and second-guessing myself, and doing just a little more research) I’ve decided to take a shot at self-publication. If it doesn’t work out, I can always try submitting later books to publishing houses, but for now, I’m pressing forward on my own.

I’m starting to get really excited about the process. I’ve been working hard on my current, hopefully penultimate, draft and started looking for a final set of beta readers. (If you’re interested in beta reading, let me know!) I’ve started scheduling and setting deadlines for releasing my book. I’ve already had experience doing editing, layout, and cover design for other self-published authors, so I know what to do on that front. Running my art business these past few years has taught me a lot about publicity and finding my audience, so I have a lot of ideas for that side of things. I think I’m as ready as I’m ever likely to be, so here goes!

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