Self Publishing Vs Traditional Publishing

If you have not guessed by now, I have decided to try my hand at self publishing. My first venture is an ebook of three short stories – The Adventures of Viola Stewart, to be followed by the novella Doctor Jack – part of the same series.   I am currently doing one last round of edits before reformatting the stories. The cover will be revealed later this month.

It was not a quick decision, nor an easy one. I took a scientific approach, did some research and looked a the pros and the cons.

Why not to self-publish?

Cons: I decided to start with the negatives, hoping it may put me in a realistic frame of mind.

Not only would I have to write the manuscript but I would have to:

  • organise own editing, come up with a title
  • organise or design own cover, book trailer etc.
  • organise own distribution and marketing and
  • juggle the pricing factor
  • battle the perception of poor quality writing for self-published works
  • more upfront expense
  • no one to prod me along or boost my morale

This meant more work. I couldn’t just hand it off to the publisher who would organise professional editing, artwork – the lot. This would mean I would either have to do the work myself or outsource and pay for it myself.

Why self-publish?


  • push that glass ceiling of published female writers
  • More control on cover, title
  • more control on my own time and deadlines
  • more control on distribution and marketing
  • more control on pricing
  • potentially bigger income 30-70% royalties, compared to 5%-10% (more if lucky, but usually under 12% it seems) royalties via traditional publishing.

Some Facts and Figures:

Royalties: The 7 K report was published by Hugh Howey in early 2014 . It is one of the few statistical analyses of author earnings I have seen. The publishing industry is generally coy about earnings. Now with smashwords, kindle, createspace, lightning source, there are platforms to professionally publish both ebooks and paperbacks. With increased % royalties for independent publishing/self-publishing, there is not only more control for author but increased income per book sold.

Price point? Looking at amazon and smashwords, short stories seem to sell from 0.99 – 2.99 depending on the length. In the blog, A Time Travelling Apocalypse,  a price survey of the top 100 Best selling ebooks sold was published. Sales for 2.99 and 4.99 seem to be on the rise, with 0.99 ebooks having stablised. Sales of books >$7 have been falling over the past year and half.
(So far, I am rolling with: Short stories: 0.99. Novella: 1.99, and Novel 2.99, as I am debut writer. I will review, if the market changes.)

Overcoming past self-published misconceptions:

It is a fact self-publishing has been swamped with a sea of titles. Some are poorly edited, or (worse) unedited. I feel for the unsuspecting reader who buys a book, excitedly begins the story, then finds it unreadable.

But not all self-publishers skip editing, are unprofessional or vanity publishers. They may go independent for many reasons. Their genre may not be deemed marketable by the big publishers, as it is not on current trend. Maybe they wish to take advantage of the increased royalties or to keep control of their work (being also an artist, this is at the forefront of my reasoning for self-publishing). Some traditionally published authors are even self-publishing past books, now they have publishing rights returned to them.

Many independently published authors are professionally edited, have professional covers, and take the time to ensure their writing is up to standard. Thankfully, this appears to be a growing trend in many genres. It is up to self-publishers and hybrid publishers (writers who both self-publish and publish via traditional publishers) to show we can produce quality reading.

I am always reading the advice: Get an editor. Get an professional looking cover. Being a self-published author does not have to equate to being unprofessional. I just hope readers will not dismiss all self-published (or Indie) authors, because of past reading experiences.


I have worked hard for twenty-eight years in my profession, often working (unpaid) overtime and working through lunch breaks. I am no stranger to hard work.

During this time I dealt with people, provided customer service, did sales and marketing and attended seminars on the same.  I have an insight into the amount of work required and am willing to learn more about the book industry. I have a lot more to learn but it was not an inconceivable task.

I have previous (though unpaid) experience at movie making (I even have an official letter from Skywalker Ranch commending one of the fan convention videos I made in the 1990s. Big fan squee!). I have done artwork, design and photography for over thirty years.

I like a challenge. This was going to be a doozy.

There have been recent changes in the traditional publishing scene. More are now requiring writers to have their own social media presence, their own brand and to do more of their own marketing now. It seems most of their time and money is put into advertising the big five sellers. Whatever my final decision, it seems I would have to do my own spruiking anyway.

I set up my professional website and blog, in 2013. Early research into a writing career, suggested it was important to do so as soon as possible. I followed this through with social media and a look to make the connection obvious.

webpage banner

Possibly the biggest bonus, for me, is less outside pressure. I would be working to my own timetable and not stressed by an unbreakable publisher-imposed deadline. This is also more practical when suffering from migraines and other health issues, some of which forced me to quit my day job. If I stay organised, I could possibly make this work.

There, I have said it. It is official. For better or for worse, the buck stops here. I am going to self-publish.  Now the work really begins.

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Self Publishing Vs Traditional Publishing was originally published on karen j carlisle / off the artboard

About karen j carlisle

writer artist gardener chocoholic tea lover
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