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Should You Self-Publish Your Book? 5 Essential Questions to Help You Decide

Prior to 2005, seeing your book in print meant choosing from one of three paths to publishing: Pitch magazines to get “clips” to add to your portfolio so that when you pitch a literary agent you have samples of your accepted writing to go along with your proposal or manuscript, sent to the agent via a modern antique: the SASE (Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope). Spend thousands of dollars at a vanity press and have 500 copies printed on your behalf, 490 of which ultimately wind up in your basement. Visit your local Kinko’s and have your masterpiece spiral-bound. Those limited options changed in 2005 when Amazon bought CreateSpace, a self-publishing platform through which authors could have their print books quickly and inexpensively published. A few years later, in November 2007, Amazon launched its digital self-publishing platform, Kindle Direct Publishing program. KDP, along with other self-publishing platforms like Smashwords and Draft2Digital, paved the way for any author to see their words in print and digital formats. Consequently, today’s authors have numerous paths to publication as Jane Friedman’s helpful informational chart, “The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2018,” attests. But how is a writer supposed to know which route is best for them, their book and their career? Of course, you will ask yourself more than five questions about whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is right for you, but these essential questions ought to provide you foundational answers for a complex and often confusing process. Once you’ve worked through these questions, I recommend researching more on the topics that resonated with you. The world of publishing seems to change on a monthly basis, so it’s to your advantage to research your decisions before fully committing. Now, let’s discuss the five essential questions to ask yourself about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. 1. How soon do you want to release your book? Generally speaking, a traditionally published book takes at least one year to be published. That doesn’t include the writing of the manuscript or the laborious and time-intensive process of pitching agents and waiting on a publishing house to accept your book. Timelines do vary, as smaller publishing houses…

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