What Does It Mean To ‘Self-Publish’ a Book?

Many writers have a dream of seeing their books on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. What you may not know is that this dream comes with a lot of work! Whether you are going down the traditional route or self-publishing, the same is true. But what does it mean to self-publish exactly?

When you self-publish a book, it means that you are responsible for the entire process from start to finish. You will need to either find an editor or hire one. You will need to source a designer to create your book cover or design it yourself. You will need to have your book proofread.

These are just a number of things that you will need to do just to put the book together, but it does not stop there. What about marketing? What about distribution? What about all of the other things that a traditional publisher would take care of for you and more.

In today’s world, self-publishing has become an incredibly viable option and is often seen as being just as legitimate as the traditional publishing route. Imagine that!

5 Things To Consider Before You Self-Publish A Book

Five things you should carefully consider before deciding whether to go with the more traditional route of finding a publisher for your manuscript or taking on all aspects and responsibilities yourself.

1) Do You Have The Time And Money For Self-Publishing.

2) What’s Your Publishing Timeline?

3) What do you want to get out of a publishing experience?

4) What are your goals and ambitions for the publication process?

5) What’s most important – reputation, money or something else entirely.

These questions will help guide you in the decision-making process before going down either route. So lets dig a bit deeper into what each of these entails.

Do You Have The Time And Money For Self-Publishing.

As mentioned above, self-publishing means that, while you keep 100% of the profit, you also carry all of the upfront costs or fees the different sales platforms charge.

Self-publishing can cost absolutely nothing or thousands. When you take into consideration services you need such as, editing, design, proof-reading marketing and distribution. What you decide to spend your money on will depend largely upon what your personal goals are for the publication process.

Traditional publishing takes care of all these aspects up front and in return they take a percentage of profits that can vary anywhere from 25% – 50%, usually around 35%. This is a guaranteed level of payment. What you do not have to worry about though is all the upfront costs that come with self-publishing your book.

If you wish to spend less money and do a lot of the heavy lifting yourself then you have to factor in the time it will take to do all of these things yourself, also.

What’s Your Publishing Timeline?

Your publishing timeline is going to be determined by the level of expertise you have in each area. If you are an expert, then it will take a shorter period of time than if you’re not very knowledgeable about book design or marketing for example. What your timeline is also tied into is how much money and resources (time) you want to spend on self-publishing.

What do you want to get out of a publishing experience?

This is an important question that all aspiring authors should ask themselves because it really boils down to what your intentions are with releasing this book into the world. What does success look like for you and why did you start writing in the first place? What does publishing a book mean to you?

What are your goals and ambitions for the publication process?

This question is also very important because it should be tied into what your intentions with self-publishing are. What do you want out of a publishing experience or career as an author in general? What do you hope to achieve? What are you trying to say with this book. What do you hope people take away from it and how does self-publishing help make that happen for you?

What’s most important – reputation, money or something else entirely.

This question is the key one of them all because it gets down to what your mindset is like. Your focus and determination will see you through to your goal so it is important to be aware of exactly what that goal is!


Self-publishing is not for everyone and before you decide whether or not this route would be a good one for you, make sure that your motives are clear. If they’re mixed up then don’t worry about it because editors have told us over the years that some of their best authors had mixed motivations. What’s important is that you don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to do everything on your own or not being realistic about what it will take for a self-published book to be successful.

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