The benefit of using a self-publishing company is that you pay one price and deal with a single company to have your book edited, designed, formatted, printed, distributed, and in some cases, promoted. Each of these six elements could easily be divided among competent freelancers who can provide excellent service at a lower price.
If you are motivated enough, you could even perform these services on your own.
Just keep in mind that when you pay a self-publishing company, you are primarily paying for the convenience.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind about working with a self-publishing company:
- If you use their design services to create your book layout and cover, the company will own the designs. This means that if you ever decide to go to another company, you will either need to buy the designs from them or have someone else design it for you again. The message in the book will be yours, but the design is not.
- If they provide an ISBN number for you, their company will be recognized as the official “publisher” of the book. This simply means that the physical book and any information listing of the book will show their name, not yours, as the official publisher. This mainly becomes important if you want to make any decisions about how the book is priced, formatted, printed or distributed, because you can only do this through the self-publishing company you hired and nowhere else. Some companies may even require an exclusive distribution contract so that you do not have the ability to control how it is distributed. The terms and conditions agreement for most companies disclose this kind of information. However, the benefit of this arrangement is that you focus more on driving traffic to the locations your company uses to sell your book, or focus on direct sales from you to your audience.
- Brick-and-mortar bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million do not tend to carry books from self-publishing companies. You may be able to sell it in their online inventory, but not in their physical stores. The simple reason is that these physical stores pay more bills than their online version, so they want a deeper discount-and these are discounts that self-publishing companies do not tend to offer. This same warning applies to libraries and academic institutions. However, if you focus on selling your book directly to your audience, without using a store, or on driving traffic to the outlets where your book is available, this is not a problem.
Do you think first-time authors should use a self-publishing company to take advantage of their expertise or would they be better of doing the work on their own?