• Skeeter Buck
  • Self-Publishing is No Longer a Movement -- It is a Formidable, Credible and Reliable Industry Unto...
Self-Publishing is No Longer a Movement -- It is a Formidable, Credible and Reliable Industry Unto Itself.
Written by
Skeeter Buck
January 2018
Written by
Skeeter Buck
January 2018


What began as a disruptive movement for the big five publishing houses (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, Penguin Random House, Simon and Schuster) a few years ago has now become a formidable, credible and reliable industry unto itself – the industry of self-publishing.

The traditional publishing industry has been turned on its head over the last few years, and as a result, there are more options than ever to see one's publishing dream come true in a timely, cost-effective, and transparent way for the author.

In April of last year, I attended my third Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Conference in Portland, Oregon. I admit openly that the conference was attended by ‘independent publishers,' but also by vendors in the traditional publishing world – printers, public relations experts, and marketing professionals, who see the incredible growth in the industry.

The keynote session was given by Brooke Warner, publisher of She Writes Press and SparkPress, president of Warner Coaching Inc., and author of Green-light Your Book (June 2016) and What’s Your Book?  Warner spoke at great length about the self-publishing industry and the many variations of publishing options available in today's market. Warner claimed that the traditional rules of publishing are fading and, as the industry continues to undergo a period of change, non-traditional presses are publishing important work.

What is ever present over the past few years is the sustained growth in the self-publishing industry.

ProQuest affiliate Bowker reveals in its latest industry report that the number of authors who are opting to self-publish continues to rise, with a growth rate of 21% between 2014 and 2015 for print and Ebooks combined. ISBN registrations for self-published titles have grown more than 375% since 2010, climbing from 152,978 ISBNs to 727,125 ISBNs.


Let's look at the data. The October 2016 Author Earning Report states that “when we look at just the more recent debut authors along each publishing path, the indie cohort of new authors is selling nearly as many print books online as the Big Five, and as Small/Medium publishers.”


Why would someone choose to self-publish? Because there are so many benefits in doing so and if done with thoughtful and ample research, you as the author are eliminating most risks that could turn your dream project into a financial and logistical nightmare.

If you are a skeptic, just Google ‘My Publishing Nightmare.'

There are endless stories of writers who have lost the rights and control of their books to traditional publishers.

Moreover, with traditional publishers, some books never make it to the shelf, or if they do, it is not the original manuscript, design or storyline the author intended for it to be.  Why?  Because to work with a traditional publisher is to relinquish your publishing rights.  Said more precisely, you lose all rights to your book and the right to publish your book anywhere else.  They own your book.

This is not to say that once a self-published author, always a self-published author.

To put this into a little more perspective here is a list of indie authors who self-published their books and they became best sellers.  Once a best seller, they later sold their rights to a traditional publisher.  But in doing so, they had already established themselves as a best-selling author, and this positioned them to have far more negotiating leverage when selling their book rights.


  • The Joy of Cooking – Irma Rombauer printed 3,000 copies in 1931 for one dollar per copy. Five years later, Bobbs-Merrill Company acquired the rights.
  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova, after her agent advised her against self-publishing Simon & Schuster acquired the novel for a reported half-million dollars.
  • Fifty Shades of Grey - Erika Leonard (E.L. James) self-published through a small Australian company, which released it on eBook and print-on-demand. After her independent reader base had driven the book to extreme levels of popularity, the rights were acquired by Vintage Books.
  • ­ Celestine Prophecy - James Redfield self-published his debut novel in 1992. It was later acquired by Warner Books, became a #1 bestseller and has sold more than twenty million copies.


Here are some of the many reasons authors choose to self-publish:

  1. You follow your timeline – self-publish authors are in complete control of their schedule. Many self-published authors have great careers they love and write as a hobby. Others have part-time jobs to support their first career of writing. With either, you as the self-publisher are in complete control of your timeline.
  2. You control the cost – you control all the cost of publishing.  You decide how much and what to spend your dollars on.
  3. You retain the rights to your book – managing the rights to your book and reviewing a contract with a traditional publisher can cost you as much, if not more, than any advance fee you may receive.  As a self-publisher, you control your book and keep all the rights to your book.
  4. You collect higher royalties – the most profitable way for you to sell your book is via your online store hosted on your website. In doing so, 100% of the compensation (minus the printing and shipping of the books to you) is yours.
  5. You get your book to market much faster – you are in complete control of how quickly you get your book to market and in which market your books are sold. Do you want to distribute your book internationally?  You bet, and there are many global distributors available to you to do so. At the click of a button, indie authors can now sell their books through the same online retail storefronts as most traditional publisher.
  6. Biggest market share and is growing the fastest – Self-publishers today account for roughly 50% of total US print sales (2016 Author Earnings Report).
  7. Faster payment – with many distributors you can receive your author compensation on a monthly basis direct to your individually established account – think direct deposit.
  8. Either way, the marketing is up to you – whether you are with one of the Big Five Publishing Houses or self-publishing, the marketing is up to you. Traditional publishing requires authors to become highly engaged at many levels for their book marketing, and many authors become frustrated with the lack of marketing efforts by the traditional publishers.
  9. Longevity – your book will always have a shelf life. Traditional publishers will stop printing and pull your book the moment sales decline.  Self-publishing allows for you to keep the book in print forever.
  10. Pride – there is great pride in bringing that story that lives inside of you to print - whether your print copies are intended solely for family and friends, or your goal is to hit the New York Times Bestseller List – it is your baby from the front cover to the back cover and everything in between.

As the list above points out, there are many reasons to venture down the road of self-publishing as a first-time author, or as a seasoned author.  Self-publishing might not be the perfect fit for every author, but it sure is a good place to start.

My curious mind would love to know: Do you self-publishing comment you'd like to share?  I’d love to hear from you. You can leave a comment below.


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