The word ‘publishing’ sparks images of rows upon rows of books, stretching along loaded shelves. Bibliophiles browse manifold selections of every possible genre with wide eyes and eager wallets. When self-publishing and/or traditional publishing is mentioned, however, opinions are as strong as a bibliophile’s unwavering attraction to the printed page. The ongoing controversy will not be settled anytime soon, nor should it be, ever. The hottest fire melds the strongest steel.
Moreover, this article will not attempt to offer arguments poised to convince one side or the other. We simply want to share some of our overarching reasons for loving self-publishing. And, why you as a writer should love it, too. Forget the standard claims we’ve all read in different forms. Consider these reasons for our self-publishing passion.
Highlight Your Uniqueness
Writers write for any number of reasons. Whatever the intrinsic motivation, your writing and reasons for doing so are uniquely yours. The singular you follows an inspirational and creative path like that belonging to no one else. Sure, we may all practice similar writing disciplines; but the course we chart when producing our work is totally unique.
Why, then, risk compromising that uniqueness by surrendering our creations and rights to a staid, structured, and conventional route of publishing? Traditional publishing has a damning tendency to squash the singular contributions many writers make in their own work for the sake of “marketability” or other such restrictive concerns. After all, their focus is to publish as many “winners” as possible, and winners must achieve a certain level established by editorial boards.
Self-publishing allows every writer to maintain their singular creative panache in every aspect of the project from start to finish. Be as exclusive and uncommon as you desire with your topics, genre-mixing, writing style, marketing style, cover design, and publishing process. Every facet of the journey can reflect your individual personality to the fullest, with no overarching authorities imposing restrictions.
Why do we love self-publishing? It allows us to each highlight our own uniqueness.
Push the Boundaries
Self-publishing is opening the doors to more authors than were ever recognized in the traditional publishing realm. In the past, books selected for such recognition as the Booker Prizes or Literary Nobel Prize followed a painfully predictable pattern. Self-published independent authors were excluded. A new prize, the Folio Prize, is gaining status among the publishing world, and it is open to any author writing in the English language, no matter the mode or method of publication. Organizations championing self-publishing, such as the Alliance of Independent Authors, continue to lobby for the right for self-published works to enter any competition.
Female writers are realizing success in self-publishing more than they ever could in traditional venues. FicShelf, an online publishing platform, reported that women are doing better in self-publishing than men. Among the top-rated self-publishing platforms, FicShelf found that 67% of the top-ranked titles were produced by women authors. Conversely, of the top 100 traditionally-published titles on Amazon, 61% are written by men. Clearly, it is the effort by the individual that counts in self-publishing, not merely an author’s gender.
As more new authors seek to push the boundaries in how they write and choose to publish, the doors to new opportunities open and the walls that separated us are torn down. This can only serve to enlighten and enliven the entire publishing world.
Why do we love self-publishing? It allows us to push the boundaries in every area of publishing.
Take Advantage of Market Share
Self-publishing has all too often been left out or grossly underrated when computations concerning U.S. and worldwide market share are correlated. The digital book phenomenon has caused self-publishing and resulting worldwide sales to literally explode. Further, non-traditional, untracked suppliers make up a large percentage of eBook sales all over the world, and these numbers are rarely if ever included in market share figures.
The main analysis self-publishing proponents point to is the May 2016 examination of traditional and self-publishing numbers by AuthorEarnings.com. In that study, the Big Five trade book publishers only claim 23% of market share, compared to 45% for self-published books. While these numbers are solid, and tell an encouraging tale, a new, more precise study is now available for examination; and it is even more promising.
A new refined measurement methodology by AuthorEarnings.com from February 2017 included the following:
- The top five English-speaking countries
- The 15 largest eBook stores
- 750,000 top-selling eBooks in all genres and categories
- Daily sales data featuring 700,000 points of data from more than 20,000 eBook titles across all 15 stores
Here’s the distilled numbers from the long page of study charts and numbers. Authors utilizing self-publishing are achieving between 24%-34% of all eBook sales in each English-speaking market, including but not limited to the United States. Authors who fit into no distinct category, most of whom are also self-published, bump the true market share to between 30%-40%. These are hard, data-supported numbers that paint a bright picture for independent authors.
What does it all mean? It means authors who self-publish have a greater share of a growing market for their product than those who follow the traditional publishing route.
Why do we love self-publishing? It means more opportunity for earnings and growth than ever before.
What do you think? What’s your take on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing? Do you love self-publishing? Why or why not? Share your responses in the comments.