Knowing When Self-Publishing is the Answer: Beginning Your Writing Adventure

Posted on December 11, 2013


imagesAn author’s main goal is to publish.  However, receiving an acceptance letter from a traditional publishing company is not always an easy feat. Thankfully that is not the only option.  Someone may have already told you about self-publishing, and you were not certain how to go about it. In this article, I will address the basics of self-publishing and beginning the book writing process. After reading this article, you should be able to decide whether to self-publish or to try your luck elsewhere.

The prime candidates for self-publishing are your next door neighbors and fellow church members with stories to share. They are people who have day jobs and families to feed and who love the art of writing. Not all of these individuals have college degrees or fancy letters in front of their names, but they do possess stories and ideas that should no longer be hidden. In other words, the prime candidate for self-publishing is YOU!

Choosing a Genre

So now that you have decided follow your dream, what are you going to write about? Should youwrite about that whirlwind romance you experienced last summer in Paris, or about the tragedy of a loved one taken by a horrible disease? You have a plethora of great stories; how are you to choose which one to start off with first? One way to decide what to write about is to be aware of why you are writing. Are you going to write on subjects that you feel you are an expert in, or are you are going to write based on the genres that are popular in today’s market?

While some authors write what they have experienced, other authors write for genres that are popular and what can gain them an interested audience. If the latter is you, then you would need to keep an eye on what genres are increasing in popularity. It is very important to know your market and who your target audience will be. You have to make certain that the plot is appealing to your audience and characters are relatable so that they remain interested. Without knowing this, your book could start off as a disaster.  Below are the top five genres for self-publishers:


Ranked at number 5, this genre uses the idea of magic and other supernatural plots to gain the interest of its audience, which usually consists of children. Fantasy is among the top genres of 2013 for self-published authors.


Ranked at number 4, action/adventure has gained popularity from both sexes and all ages alike. While romance is dominated by female readers, action/adventure is the male equivalent to romance. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (yes, it was self-published) is considered to be one of the bestselling novels in the action/adventure genre. And you thought men didn’t like romance!

Mystery and Paranormal

This genre is one of the youngest genres to hit the literary scene, but has gained a great following among e-readers. Ranked at number 3, this genre is one of Amazon’s top-selling genres. Among the best-selling books on in this genre is Brothers and Bones by James Hankins.


Get ready to be thrilled or to thrill. Thrillers are gaining in popularity all over the world. Although considered a broad genre of literature, this genre is the one that readers gravitate toward for a whirlwind of excitement and emotions.


Romance is ranked number 1 for self-publishers. In fact, romance has accounted for more than half of the total sales of self-published books. For over a year now, romance novels have been in great demand with the reading public. Among the most popular self-published romance novels are The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken, which sold over 80,000 e-book copies in the U.S. and UK in 10 days, and the oh-so-steamy Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James, which has sold over 70 million copies.

When to Publish

“So when should I publish?” is a question that many authors have a hard time answering. Most people decide to publish their books when their agents land them a publishing contract or when their books are finished. Maybe you have finished your novel and are ready to publish and reveal it to the world. Your mother and sisters are excited and anticipating the release, but who else is waiting? Do you have fans and an anticipating community? Writing is an important part of a book, but what is the point if no one knows it exists? Once you have acquired your fan base and stretched them to the point where the need for your book is overwhelming, you are ready to publish. Make your story needed.

Reasons to Self-Publish

After you have finished your book, you need to decide how you are going to print it. There are a number of avenues, from small publishing companies to online DIY (Do-It-Yourself) sites that will allow authors to self-publish their works. How much can you afford to invest? Do you want to be in total control over every aspect of the book or are you okay with someone else taking the lead on it? Knowing the direction in which you would want to go will determine if you will go with a traditional publisher or on your own.

If you decide to self-publish, there is help out there for you.  Many self-publishing POD (Print On Demand) companies offer a wide range of services, including e-book and POD publishing, marketing (for a fee) and a small royalty retainer rate, which works out best for your pockets. While the upfront cost may seem high initially, it is well worth it to keep the rights to your book.

There are many reasons why writers self-publish instead of using a traditional publisher. If you do not see yourself making a career from writing, but want to create a book for a very specific or limited market, such as a local market or to showcase your talent to your family, then self-publishing is the best approach. However, these are not the only reasons people decide to self-publish opposed to using a traditional publisher. Some other reasons include:

Accomplishment:  Some people self-publish not for money, but for a sense of accomplishment in their lives. While some people look to writing as a career, others do it as a hobby and something to share with their families. Their intentions are not to become rich or to see their names at the top of the best sellers list: but to create something special for the people around them. For anyone who is publishing for this reason, self-publishing is a great decision.

Control: Royalties are important to every writer. After writing and publishing your masterpiece, it would be great to benefit financially from the sales, correct? This reason alone is why some authors choose to self-publish. Not only do they have a say regarding their book, but also they get to keep a larger percentage of the royalties.  Although traditional publishers have the ability to dish out a substantial advancement for book sales, acceptance, and publication of the manuscript, the author will typically only make 10-25% from royalties. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep a larger percentage of royalties for yourself?

Cover Design:  When authors self-publish, they are in total control of their books and how they look; this includes the formatting, inside covers, and even the creation and implementation of the cover design and binding. Authors are not bound to certain criteria, they are free to roam; however, they must make certain that the finished products are professional, flawless and inviting to the audience they are trying to attract.

I hope I have answered all of your questions regarding self-publishing and how it can benefit an author like you. Like all adventures and things we are passionate about, it is going to take time, hard work and sweat to complete, but the finished product will be worth it all. So what are you waiting on? Grab your pen and finish that story; you have a book to self-publish.

Angelique Anderson, Writer and Editor, Asta Publications

Asta Publications has a long history of helping writers tell their stories and get published. Since 2004, Asta Publications has helped hundreds of authors bring their book concepts to life and we are ready to help you too! Our dedication to our authors is unmatched. We deliver first-class products and services that are accurate, high quality, and exceed our authors’ expectations.

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