There's no doubt about it, we're neck deep in the Digital Age. With so many aspects of our lives taking place plugged in and online, very few of us can deny that the digital world—once so foreign and unfamiliar—is now different from just the world we live in. Our world—the world of the everyday—is the digital world. We conduct our business online, talk to friends online, catch up with relatives online, take classes online, earn degrees online, play online, date online—I could go on. Our lives are as married to technology and the Internet today, as they were to the written word and print media in the past. This digital revolution has influenced many aspects of our culture, not least the world of books, publishing and authorship.
Today eReaders like the Kindle and Nook have become extraordinarily popular among the mass public. While they were met with much contention, now, the hoopla and outrage against the electronic book seems to have mostly subsided. People today purchase their favorite novels and magazines from the online interface their eReader provides and then read the copy directly from the machine. While literature purists and bibliophiles were at first put off by the page-less devices, many have succumbed. On the one hand, eReaders and digital publications have been challenging in many very significant ways to publishers and major publishing companies (drop in print sales and pricing structures). On the other hand, the electronic devices and technologies have opened up many exciting new avenues for self-publication and independent publishing companies.
For the past decade or so, the "independent" label has gained in popularity, firstly in the United States, and now throughout the world. Many individuals are looking for more organic and locally sourced goods. We want natural, local food, independent music and movies, and organically small, independently published books—the mass produced label has lost its credibility in many ways. That being said, this has become a good time for authors and individuals interested in and passionate about self-published print. New devices, technologies, and trends in recent years have helped the world of independent publishing flourish. But, of course, as with anything outside of the mainstream, self-publishing comes with its advantages and its challenges. Here are some of the pros and cons of self-publishing a body of work in today’s digital world:
More control over your own work
With self-publishing, it's all you. You make the decisions about every aspect of your work. Sure, this is more work, but you can be sure that things are done the way that you want them to be done. Obviously, this is one of the most prominent and apparent pros of self-publishing. Major publishing companies often reign in control over your work once you give them your text.
Make stronger relationships with those working on your text
With self- and independent publishing, authors are able to play a larger role in the entire process. This means that they interact more closely with the editors and marketers of the work. A stronger relationship with all involved typically means a better publishing experience and a more individualized experience.
It's less expensive
Smaller publishing companies and self-publishing routes almost always come at a smaller cost than major publishers. The author invests the money they want to into their own work. This can be risky, but also very rewarding.
Smaller marketing reach
One of the biggest advantages to using a major publishing company for your work is the exposure and marketing opportunities they provide. Major publishing companies are just that—major. They have a wide following, are able to make big marketing waves, and have the resources to find major selling outlets once the publishing process is complete. This can be a huge (HUGE) advantage, but should not be seen as the most important element of publishing. The fact of the matter is there are fewer marketing and advertising opportunities for smaller, lesser known publishers.
Great cost risk up-front
This is one of the areas of publishing that many people do not understand very well. With small time publishing either self- or through an independent label, the author invests the money into the project. This means that they put up the money they want to for the book or publication with no guarantee for a financial payout in the long run. (ED: more and more small publishing presses are offering minimal or no advances to their authors). While the overall cost of self-publishing is smaller than doing so with a larger company, there is less of a guarantee for success as a self-publisher.
Katheryn Rivas is freelance writer and blogger who dedicates her time to discovering the latest online education trends. When she's not writing, she can be found playing softball or reading a good book. She encourages your comments here or at firstname.lastname@example.org.