The End Is Near For Free And Cheap Self-Publishing

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Self-publishing for free or on the cheap

Self-publishers need to invest in quality

Self-publishing has developed the reputation of being a free or very cheap way to get a book published.

In a sense, this is true, as self-publishing an ebook on Kindle Direct Publishing costs nothing at all, and there are ample promotional opportunities to be found on social media to promote ebooks.

Even a basic book cover can be created for free by using free images from sites such as Morguefile 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 some knowledge 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 and attract book buyers.

Kindle is awash with millions of ebooks. Social media is wall to wall with book promotion posts and messages, which are very often circulating within a crowd of other hopeful authors because authors have the bad habit of following other authors.

Then there is the issue of product quality associated with cheap self-publishing.

It goes without saying that the quality of many ebooks is very poor. It almost always because they were prepared on the cheap, or for free.

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 big business

However, this is 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. The ebook buying market is absolutely massive now and still 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 book promotion opportunities, which give at least a modest return on investment.

They will hire a professional cover designer and a competent editor.

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

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

All of these are business 101.


Making self-publishing your business

There are many, many authors who have already succeeded in 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 that can be gained from self-publishing on the cheap or for free.

Why? Because a product, including a book or an ebook that sells well, was never created, produced, marketed and promoted without incurring at least some expenses.

This does not mean that it requires thousands of dollars to be successful in self-publishing.

Just a few hundred dollars will go a long way in increasing the chances of a book’s success.


Further reading: How To Get A Book Published – The Five Options You Have


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Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

7 thoughts on “The End Is Near For Free And Cheap Self-Publishing

  • December 8, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Are there reputable self-publishing or traditional publishing companies that put process above profit, and the author at least on equal footing with the companies in question? Nearly everyone that I have reviewed to date has had numerous complaints filed against them at the Better Business Bureau.

    Am I asking the impossible or am I just being unrealistic or idealistic?

  • February 15, 2018 at 2:43 am

    I’m writing a children book. I’m almost done with it. It’s going to be a chapter book. I also wrote a picture book. I can’t draw who does the drawings and will it cost me anything?

    • April 15, 2018 at 3:15 am

      There are plenty of freelance artists who will do the art for you, and yes, it will cost you. How much depends on the artist, and you will need to negotiate the terms with them and put together a contract. If you’re serious about your children’s writing, it may be worth joining SCBWI(the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), and checking out some of the children’s writer/artist discussion groups on LinkedIn. People often ask questions such as this and get answers from artists. Hop3 this helps!

  • May 6, 2015 at 8:24 am

    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,

  • May 6, 2015 at 8:21 am

    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.

  • May 5, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    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?


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