Self Publishing: A Book Vs Author Battle?

Publishing has always been a nerve wracking business but an essential one that keeps things going for authors and writers. While the traditional way of publishing looks good it often is a tedious process. For starters, it takes months of applications and even greater time in rejections before you can even get closer to publishing your book. Self-publishing, on the other hand, gives you much of freedom which you desire and also hastens the process. However, similar to the traditional form of publishing this too has its pitfalls which often get you entailed in the Author vs. Book struggle.

books scattered

Source: Purple Motes

No. of Copies Vs The Viewership

Unlike traditional publishing, this is a more straight-forward and direct and hence it works well unknown aspiring authors who don’t have that much money or access to people. Self-publishing work by publishing your work mostly in the electronic form that is, in PDF and then in print form. Here you invest a small amount of money and list your book for publishing in Amazon and other companies offering self-publishing services. While there is a nominal amount that you would be charged for this yet it isn’t as exorbitant a deal that you make with a publishing house.

Here you will be selling your books on your own website and other platforms and slowly and gradually as your audience opens up to it you gain traction and speed. Unlike traditional publishing house, you don’t have the pressure of publishing the first 100 copies or 500 copies which is often marked as a success rate in this industry.

book copies
No. of copies of book


Here, the stress is more on sustainability and viewership. It’s kind of like a social media campaign that takes up space by its viewership and longevity. So, the longer the book is in the list and steadily gains a good following and viewership, the more is its chance of surviving.

Hence, unlike mega launches and book signing parties, this will develop slowly and gradually. A few months of the steady show and you continually upping the game with book discussions and communications with your audience will show steady results.

For example, writer Joseph Hogue (Author of The Passive Income Truth) describes this well in his article how sustainability matters in self publishing. He has published more than 3 books by this method and have made nearly $2k  a month in 3 years. While it doesn’t seem much but if you witness the steady growth you will understand that in the long run it is a better and more sustainable idea than approaching a publishing. He confesses that he made less than $500 a month when he published his first book on Amazon. But gradually as he maintained it and published more books the income starting gaining traction. As of April 2018, he has sold more than 624 copies of his books in Kindle, Paperbacks and Audio books

In other words, the amount of time you spend in traditional publishing going door to door, applying to editors, listening to them, facing their rejections – nearly same amount of time you are spending here promoting and remaining visible for a long period of time.

Is It About the Book or the Author?

As we see in traditional publishing system , well known and renowned authors gain and upper hand , often making it seem more about the an author than the book. Of course, first time writers do make a mark but it takes a fair amount of time and social networking before the publishing houses can bet on you.

For example, an established author such as Margaret Atwood or Amitav Ghosh would get more copies sold simply because of their popularity and outreach. A new writer might not get that much advantage as they don’t have that audience base yet. So, a new author will lose out in the battle of perception when he goes for the traditional method.

Author Any Mason Holding her Book at an event

The scenario is quite the opposite in case of self-publishing. Self-publishing is the trusted avenue of a first time author who doesn’t have the exposure. Here, you get the liberty of publishing your work without being judged whether it’s worthy to be read or not. In a word, you are more likely to be heard here than elsewhere. And as you are doing it for the first time – it’s as much about the book as much as it is about you.

Hence, your perception, your ideas of living and thinking is what gets reflected in the book. It’s the world’s way of knowing the author as well as his tale. So, most self published books which do well are either fiction relating to these kinds of personal perspectives or motivating uplifting books

We can take the example of the Mike Omer, a 39 year old self-published whom people have never heard of, yet they have bought more of his books than bestselling authors such as J.K. Rowling . This Israeli author topped the charts in Amazon Prime Day sale in the July of 2018.

Understanding the Audience & Strategizing

As different books on self-publishing point out, it’s not an easy game where you write some fancy word and put in your money to publish. You need to have a strategy and balance it well. There should be you but not more of you and less of the book you are selling.

For example, if you are selling a book on self-help you should be strategizing it and target the audience who is most likely to suffer through similar conditions and need to read that book. Unlike, publishing here you don’t have the luxury of editors and marketing strategist helping you. While there are people to help you but you need to done the publisher’s hat and think strategically.

people with books
Different people reading different books            

Thus things like a proper introductory note, a preface and the most important of all a catchy title matters. Along with this you have to remember that the internet is your strength here and you need to understand and prioritize it. So, fast and foremost a unique catchy title that sets your book apart and instantly hits the Google and other search engine algorithm when people search for similar topics is essentials.

This is the same strategy that bloggers and website makers keep in mind while making content. This drives up views and actions.

For example – you are selling a book titled “The Mind of a Killer” as opposed to a book titled “The Killer’s Mind”. The second one is short concise and more direct. It provokes action taking sentiments which attracts people to enquiring more about it. The first one on the other hand is a passive statement which is good but doesn’t sound unique and interesting. It’s sounds like a general synopsis of a criminal mind rather than being the mystery thriller Mike Omer’s book is.

The traditional way of going about this will be much different and doesn’t depend on online viewership. For them, the content presentation would be important and as it is more in print media so the media uproar, book launches and the uniqueness of the subject matter is important. This is one of the reasons why fictional novels and short stories go for the traditional way of publishing which highlights the uniqueness of the topography.

Take the instance of Gautier’s Fleece of Gold which was the original title of the The Quest for a Blonde Mistress.

Haldeman’s original title had an estimated outreach of 6000 copies per year but the new title sold 50,000 copies per year as it revealed less about the book. Despite the French writing being a rage in 1900 it didn’t work because the idea and presentation of the subject matter was too foretolding and didn’t leave any mystery about the subject matter. So, the title is important whether you are in traditional publishing or self-publishing.

e book
Different formats of books


These are the very basics of self-publishing that one must follow in order to be successful in this venture. It’s an author game plan all together and it’s the way of making yourself stand out and creating a business of your own. For this you need a good website to run your campaigns and outreach ideas along with the other websites. Despite self publishing making money than traditional publishing houses, the authors aren’t always placed too well to gain from it. As a Guardian article points out most self-publishing authors are earning $1000 a year. You just have to work it out – use all the tools available at your disposal. Remember with self-publishing comes advantage of various formats and platforms. So, use all of it – Audio books, paperbacks, kindle etc. and catch your readers.

Make your work count and put on the thinking cap and channelize your inner author to a publisher. There’s not much to brainstorm but only a time and strategy to think. Remember it’s not a book vs author struggle. Rather it’s taking a leaf out of your life and making book out of it. Just carry the book with yourself.