Self-publishing has become a way for authors to keep control over their work. Additionally, it allows them to generate a bigger share of royalties over those of a traditional publishing house.
Amazon is one of the biggest online retailers in the world, and as such, many authors choose to go with their easy self-publishing platform. But should you?
In this blog post, we'll go over the pros and cons of self-publishing with Amazon.
The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing in General
If you've landed on our page, it is likely you already are interested in self-publishing. You may have already made up your mind, and it's possible you've already read the multitude of articles on our site that discuss whether self-publishing is the best move for you.
Still, it would be a shame if we didn't discuss this, however briefly, in this article.
Pros of Self-Publishing
There are many pros of self-publishing, and the first is the royalty share that you'll get. Depending on what platform you go with, you may either pay upfront to get the books created and then reap 100% of the royalties by selling the books yourself. Or, you may choose to have the books printed on demand, a model which Amazon uses. In this model, you'll still receive the lion's share of royalties, but Amazon will knock off a little bit for the cost of binding the book or hosting it on its website.
As a self-published author, you're entering into the world of freelancing. But more than that, you're an entrepreneur, or authorpreneur, looking to build your brand and an income stream from your books, which are completely under your control.
Traditionally publishing also means that you may even spend years getting one novel or book published. Firstly, you'll need to shop for agents, which isn't an easy task. Most agents are fully booked and aren't taking on new clients, thus your book will need to absolutely wow them before they take it on.
Then, you'll need to work with your agent to mold the book even further, which could mean a total rewrite. And that's if you get to sign with an agent at all.
Pros of Self-Publishing: Avoiding the Traditional Publishing Merry-Go-Round
Once your agent is happy with the book, you'll need to then have it submitted to publishing houses. They'll then read the manuscript and decide if it's worth it for them to publish, which comes down to a little bit of luck. But you'll also need to note that most reputable don't even read manuscripts if they don't come from agents.
If you're lucky enough to get a deal, then you'll have to work further on the book. This will include making even more edits and some that you may not have envisioned for the book originally. You won't likely get control of your book cover design, or many other aspects of your book.
If you self-publish, you'll only make the edits you want. You'll select a cover that you want, and you'll only present to the world something you want specifically. At the end of the day, with a self-published piece, the story is yours exclusively. With a traditionally published piece, you'll need to make some exceptions for what other people invested in the book want.
Cons of Self-Publishing
There are a few cons to self-publishing that you should be aware of before embarking on your journey.
Firstly, the market is so crowded, even if you publish on Amazon, that your self-published book won't come with the mark of approval from a reputable house. You won't get reviews or blurbs from big-time authors for free, and you'll have to convince an audience you're one to watch from scratch.
Secondly, if you want to put out a book free of errors, and a book that has a great flow to it, you'll need an editor. This can be incredibly expensive, and in some cases, cost-prohibitive to authors. You can publish without one, but be prepared for critics to slam your book for grammatical or spelling errors.
Thirdly, you'll have to do all of the marketing and leg-work yourself. According to Forbes, however, most fiction authors will have to do this anyway, even if they publish traditionally. Therefore, you may not be losing much by going for self-publishing over traditional.
Pros of Self-Publishing on Amazon
Now, let's get into the pros and cons of self-publishing on Amazon specifically.
Amazon is a Huge Selling Platform
Amazon itself is a huge platform. It's trusted and reputable, and your book will be sold alongside those of reputable authors. This means you won't be selling your books out of the back of your trunk, instead, friends, family and potential readers can get it online without you having to distribute it.
Additionally, most self-published authors don't know how to market their books, and Amazon has tons of marketing tools built-in, you'll just need to learn how to leverage them.
Amazon Offers Print on Demand
Amazon offers a print on demand service, meaning you don't need to buy stock and then try to sell it. This means you can get a hard copy of your book sent anywhere Amazon operates, without you having to physically get it first.
Amazon Offers KDP Select, Which Gives You More Flexibility
As a self-published author, you do have quite a bit of control over who sells your books nowadays. You can choose to publish with every major platform, or you can choose to publish exclusively with Amazon.
You may wonder why anyone would decide not to publish on every single platform available, but Amazon does give you quite a few benefits. For example, your book will automatically be enrolled in the Kindle Owner's Lending Library (KOLL) and the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program. This way, people who are subscribed to Amazon's subscription services can read your book as part of it. You'll then receive profits based on individuals borrowing the book, which is smaller than if someone buys the book.
With Kindle ebook publishing, you're paid by the number of pages the individual has read.
With KDP Select, you also have exclusive marketing features, which allows you to make your book free for a period of time. This is a great way to boost your book sales, as many authors see a marked increase in them after offering their book for free. This is because the book becomes more visible if it becomes a "best selling" free book for that time period. It also offers you a chance to collect reviews and build a community.
KDP also allows you to offer your book for a heavily discounted price for a limited period of time.
Amazon partners with Audible to help you bring a new dimension to your books. While this is a whole other topic in itself, as an Amazon publisher, you've got the freedom to tie in an Audible audiobook with your Amazon list prices.
Of course, audiobooks are not exclusive to Amazon, but on Amazon, consumers will be able to get it in a "one-stop-shop."
Cons of Self-Publishing on Amazon
Now that we've given you the perks of publishing on Amazon, let's talk about the downfalls of it.
If You Enroll in KDP Select, You Have a Limited Reach and Limited Income
If you enroll in KDP Select, this means your book can only reach so far, depending on your genre. Your friends and family who may be more comfortable getting your books somewhere else won't be able to do so. If people don't trust Amazon, or they're boycotting it for some reason, this means you lose some of your business. However, for some genres, going with KDP Select is a financially smart decision because of the marketing it provides.
And, if you're supporting yourself on your Amazon self-published books, this means you only have one source of income, which is often a no-no for a freelancer. It should also be noted that Kindle Select payouts via Amazon are getting smaller and smaller as competition grows. Because of this, many authors are leaving KDP Select and looking for better options to ensure that their checks keep coming in and the same rate.
The 90-Day Exclusivity Clause
When you publish any digital items on Amazon, they have a 90-day exclusivity period in which you cannot sell your digital copy elsewhere. This can put a dent in a launch, especially if you expect to publish everywhere.
You Have Content Limitations
As an Amazon.com Publisher, you cannot post more than 10% of your content anywhere else online. Even if it's in your personal blog or part of a Wattpad story, it needs to be taken down immediately or else you'll be violating your agreement.
There are also limitations for romance authors, who find that some of Amazon's control over their work is a bit stringent.
Is Self-Publishing via Amazon Best?
Self-publishing on Amazon is ultimately the best way for a new author to go, especially if you're not ready to or are just learning about how to build your author brand on wider networks. If you're a seasoned self-published author with a built-in audience, you may wish to go with other options and keep growing your network on bigger and wider channels. But a newbie is ripe for Amazon, and a perfect way to get their books noticed, depending on your genre.
If you're interested in publishing with Amazon, click here to see how PublishDrive can help you. achieve success. We can make your book stand out from the crowd, thus driving sales to your work.