The End Of Self-Publishing On The Cheap

The End Of Self Publishing On The CheapSelf-publishers really need to pay for some professional services.

Self-publishing has developed the reputation for being a cheap way to get published. In a sense this is true, as publishing an ebook on Kindle costs nothing at all, and there are ample promotional opportunities to be found on social media to plug ebooks to death.

Even a cover can be created for free by using sites such as Morguefile for free images and then popping a title and author name on top in Word. Proofreading can be managed by finding a friend, and with a lot of luck, perhaps a friend who has a clue about editing.

This is all well and good, but the problem is that there are so many self-published authors now that it is very difficult to stand out in the crowd. Kindle is inundated with ebooks, while social media is wall to wall with book plugging posts and messages, which are usually mostly circulating within the crowd of other hopeful authors because authors have the habit of following other authors.

Then there is the issue of product quality. It goes without saying that the quality of many ebooks is poor, but often this is only because they were prepared on the cheap, or for nothing.

With that said, self-publishing is definitely here to stay, and no amount of ‘bagging‘ self-published ebooks will change that fact. Self-publishing will continue to deliver ebooks covering the whole spectrum of quality and in vast numbers every year.

Self-publishing is a business, so treat it like one.

However, this is, in fact, a great opportunity for smart authors, who realise that self-publishing is not at all about being free or cheap.

Those authors who change their mindset and start thinking about how to exploit a business opportunity will understand that with some market research, business planning and a little investment, self-publishing has the potential to be turned into a viable business, as the ebook buying market is absolutely massive now and growing.

Sure, publishing has always been a business model based on gambling on the success of a title or two, but it has worked for a very long time.

To succeed at self-publishing, an author is going to need titles, and the more the better, as only a handful will probably succeed. So writing will be the number one priority to create a lot of saleable product.

They will need to market smart and look for paid advertising and promotion opportunities, which give at least a modest return on investment. They will hire a great cover designer and an editor.

They will understand that like almost all new businesses, self-publishing will probably run at a loss for the first year or more.

But most of all, they will understand how to differentiate their product in the market, and continually seek out market niches they can exploit. All business 101.

There are many, many authors who have already succeeded at making self-publishing their business because they worked very hard to make it their business.

Many more will follow and succeed I am sure, but it will only be those authors who realise that there is nothing much to be gained from self-publishing on the cheap.

Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

3 thoughts on “The End Of Self-Publishing On The Cheap

  • I recently turned down a publishing contract with British publisher (Austin McCauley) because they offered me a contract with the prevision that I “contribute” to publishing costs to the tune of 2500 British pounds. Their stated reason was that, although their editorial board liked my book, their financial board felt that since I was not published in the genre of adult literary fiction, they needed to minimize their risk. I have published over 30 children’s nonfiction books, most available on

    Do you think I was right to turn them down? What advice do you give for pursuing a traditional publisher first? I’ve had one other publisher (Sourcebooks) take it to the editorial board level, but it didn’t make the final round. Right now, I’m concentrating on getting an agent. What do you think?

  • Thanks for your comment, Gina. All I can really say is that when a publisher asks an author for money, it’s then vanity publishing, and self publishing is always a better alternative to that.

  • You were right to turn them down. I’ve been offered similar “deals” in the past. I eventually was accepted by a traditional publisher. The works in question were never published and, looking back, I can see why. Whether we authors like it or not, many traditional publishers are aware of what can sell and what can’t. I can understand why some might like a book but not consider it part of their genre. For example, my publisher will not consider a beginner book on astronomy,

    I think the self-publishing route is worth considering. In your case (and mine), we have published books so can believe in what we do.

    I have seen it written many times that a lot of self-published books are written by people who think they can write but can’t but that doesn’t diminish the efforts of those who can write and choose this route,


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