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How Much You Can Save When You Self-Publish

From maximizing on royalties to owning the copyright, here’s how you can save money when you self-publish.

Sp 018 financial benefits of self publishing

Although you may dream of having your book touted by one of the big publishing houses, you don't have to leave your work in the hands of chance to get it published. 

Thanks to the rise in self-publishing, the ability to get published is more of a possibility than ever before for many new writers. 

In fact, as of February 2017, self-published indie authors account for 34% of all eBook units sold in the United States.

That’s exciting, as the majority of writers' probably won’t receive the attention they deserve from big publishing houses. Another exciting benefit of self-publishing? The financial benefits.

When you get published by a big publishing house, you might get a much smaller piece of the revenue pie. From maximizing on royalties to owning the copyright, here’s how you can save money when you self-publish.

Maximize Your Royalties

If you publish your book through a traditional publisher, you typically get a small signing bonus. You’ll then receive a percentage of the profit generated through sales. However, this can be as low as 1% — and that’s if you sell enough copies to make a percentage.

Part of the reason your cut can be so low is that a traditional publisher has to pay the platform or retailer where your book will be sold and then generate some revenue for itself.

Receiving a fraction of a fraction from sales can be a deflating experience for new and experienced writers alike.

Self-publishing cuts out the expenses taken off the top from a traditional publisher. Plus, you'll have the ability to explore any sales platform that you may already have interest or experience using.

Every platform takes a different amount of your earnings from sales. For example, Sellfy — an e-commerce platform for digital products used by over 100,000 content creators — will only take 8%, whereas Amazon KDP will take as much as 59%.

After the platform or the retailer (if you're going local with physical copies of your book) takes its percentage, you get to keep the remaining profit — which, in many cases, is the bulk of the profit.

The ability to distribute across any platform you deem appropriate means that more money can end up in your pocket instead of a publisher's. You can then use those funds to advertise your book and sustain its success or to fund your next project.

Spend Only on the Services You Need

Playing by a publisher's rules may mean spending money on certain services that you could do yourself. By self-publishing, you can be resourceful by contracting editors or designers that fit your budget — or taking these roles under your own wing.

You can learn the skills to be a successful self-editor who only needs a proofer to check for typos and other small details. And local meetup groups can provide free help with large and small-scale editing, too.

When you work with a traditional publisher, you pay for their team of editors, typesetters, formatters, illustrators, and other workers who will polish your work to the publisher’s specifications.

Although this level of professional attention can heighten the level of quality of your work, it all adds up and leaves you with less profit.

Find outside help with polishing services only as you see fit, and cut costs by handling what you can on your own.

You can learn how to write an impressive author bio and effective back-cover copy that will make your book jump off the shelves with the multitude of online resources supported by the online self-publishing community.

You may find resources that are far cheaper than what you'd have to pay a publisher to do. For example, you can find an affordable cover designer on LinkedIn, sites like 99designs, or through a design agency. This is one of the many financial strengths of self-publishing.

Own the Copyright

Working with a publisher limits your ability to share your work in the ways that you see fit. Depending on the copyright agreement, you may limit your ability to share the work or publish it again later in an anthology.

Self-publishing also grants you the flexibility to expand your work if you desire. You'll have complete ownership over your titles and what you want to do with them moving forward.

For example, if you want to create a sequel, you will not have to work within the constraints of a publisher deal. You’ll also have more flexibility to pursue any derivative works related to your book.

Succeeding as a self-published writer takes a lot of grit — but it's easier with the right resources to help you along the way. Download your free self-publishing guide and become an expert on how to sell your book today 

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.

Bookcover lin website

Recently, Steuben Press printed my 213 page personal memoir. If you are contemplating having your own story professionally printed Steuben Press is the company for you! They will handle your manuscript with kid gloves and you'll be ever so proud to hand our each and every copy of your story to friends and family.

– Lin Joyce, Herndon, Virginia

Email Lin and purchase her story "Raising My Family Around the World ~ The Adventures of a CIA Wife and Mom in Stories, Snapshots and Letters."