Since the advent of mass produced printed books, self publishing has carried a stigma. I suspect that this perception has been driven by big publishers in an attempt to gain total control of the market (and exacerbated by small presses or indie companies that don't care about the quality of the finished products).
Keep in mind that the book trade began with self publishing—with the
self-starters who had the vision, content and marketing skills to bring their
insights to the world—and it's my belief that it will end with it as the
big, slow behemoths begin to fail. In fact, this is already starting to happen.
benefit of self publishing is that you own the rights to your work and
get a bigger share of the profits. It's not unusual to make less than
10% of the net profit when signing with a big publisher. As a self
published author, you can keep upwards of 30% of the profits. If you sell your book as a digital download from your author web site, then you can earn 100% of the profits without any inventory or shipping costs. Of course if you want to sell more copies of your books, you may consider paying other web site owners a percentage of the profits for the sales that they refer which means you'll pay out commissions, but also make more sales than you could have on your own.
you own the rights to your content, you can repurpose it. Take your
content and record it as a CD or tape. Or turn it into a seminar or
workshop. Or break up your book and sell individual chapters. This way, you can create multiple revenue streams without needing
to write another book.
If your information is timely or tied to recent or upcoming events, this is the route to take. Big companies are behemoths that take years to produce the finished product. Case in point: a good friend of mine submitted her children's book to a New York publisher. Five years later, the book finally hit the shelves.
As a self publisher, you have more control over the finished product. You control the content, look, style and presentation of your book. With increased control comes more responsibility and obviously, a lot more work.
Although a lot of authors are worried that they might not be able to create a book that has a look and layout that looks professional, today's tools allow even novices to do this without expertise in complex software programs. For instance, the printing company that I recommend to authors who want to try their hands at self publishing, allows the creation of a professional looking book by simply uploading the Word document and the cover file via their browser to the printer's web site. For more on the benefits of going this route and step by step instructions on how to set up your account, click on CreateSpace publishing.
Many first-time authors will not believe this, but the most grueling aspect of self publishing is not writing the book itself, but taking the steps required after the book hits the shelves. This, my friends, is called marketing and promotion—dirty words to authors who want to focus only on their writing. If you truly value your work, however, then you will want to get it in front of as many eyes as possible, even if all you do is build a web site as I described above. This is where an entirely different level of creativity and skills come into play. We'll explore these aspects in another article. For now, think about the benefits of self publishing and how they will work for you and your particular work.