Step3: Factors to Consider Before Self Publishing

These are questions to ask yourself while deciding whether to publish traditionally or to self publish. Both methods allow access to large readerships and have the potential to be greatly fulfilling for authors.

Jesus, while talking to the disciples about following Him, asked them to count the cost. The same Scripture applies to authors today – you have to count the cost from the beginning to ensure you don’t stop at some point in your book project’s journey.

For which one of you, when he wants to build a watchtower [for his guards], does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is unable to finish [the building], all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one who is coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else [if he feels he is not powerful enough], while the other [king] is still a far distance away, he sends an envoy and asks for terms of peace. Luke 14:28-32Amp


The Cost of Self Publishing


While most aspects of writing depend on factors that vary greatly among authors, getting a book traditionally published is a notoriously time-consuming process. First, your manuscript must be accepted by a publishing house, which is an ordeal in and of itself; most houses accumulate a “slush pile” of manuscripts that takes months to work through (if ever!).

Once the publisher reads your pitch, they may still choose to reject it, but take heed: many authors—including incredibly successful ones have had their manuscripts rejected by several publishing houses before they were offered a book deal. So don’t give up too easily.

If your manuscript is accepted by a publishing house, putting the book together and printing it require many months. It can sometimes take several years to put a new book on the shelves.

With self publishing, however, you personally (with the help of professionals), edit, proofread and design the layout of your book as well as determine how many copies will be printed. This greatly expedites the publishing process. You could be holding a copy of your book in about twelve months. If you decide to self publish an e-book, which is possible in several online platforms like Kindle Publishing and Books for My Soul (among others), it could be on the digital market in much shorter period.

If you choose to do Hybrid Publishing, where a publishing house handles the process for you at your cost, you can release the book to be published as you focus on your vocation or writing your next book.


Money and Responsibility: 

There is a good reason that traditional publishing takes so long: many experts collaborate to design a high-quality product. Once the manuscript is polished, the author’s work is done. It’s up to the publishing house to design, prepare, print, and promote your book.

If you self publish, you’re on your own although you should work with different book experts to give yourself a competitive edge and with great publishing power comes great financial responsibility.

Writing the manuscript is just the beginning of the process. You must comprehensively edit and proofread the book; commission cover art; organize the book’s contents (layout) taking into consideration the relevant fonts, style and flow fitting to your target readers; manage the printing process; decide how many copies to order; market and publicize your work; as well as set up a distribution strategy.

While traditional publishing houses foot the bill for all of these steps, if you go the self publishing route, each cost will come out of your own wallet. Keep in mind that though a publishing house will cover all of these costs, it will also keep a cut of the book’s profits. If you self publish, every shilling you make is your own.

It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of the route you take and decide what you can and cannot live with. Some of the weighty cons can be mitigated by joining an authors group to receive continued support, fellowship, training and focus on your book project.



Because traditional publishing houses aim to maximize profits, editors may want to adjust your book to make it more marketable. Sometimes, authors are not happy with these changes. It takes a great deal of trust to allow someone else to rearrange your work.

Many authors prefer to maintain control over all elements of their writing. If the thought of an editor going through your manuscript with a red pen to permanently alter your content makes your hair stand on end, you may prefer self-publishing, as it allows you to decide which parts of your book to keep and which parts to cut.

That said, you will still need to work with editors in self publishing and they will suggest cutting off some parts and adding others. It’s important for you to receive this expertise input to make your book shine. The only difference is that in self publishing you have more control to decide the final outcome.


The Choice Is Yours

Determining which publishing route is right for you boils down to personal preferences pertaining to all of these (and other) factors. Would you prefer that experts handle the details, or would you like to have plenty of input in the publishing process? Are you determined to see your book stocked at major retailers, or do you trust your own marketing abilities?

Next, we will look at the Requirements for Self Publishing.

Training by: Dr. Muthoni Mercy Omukhango

Publisher in Africa | National Director @CLC Kenya |Authors’ Manager @African Christian Authors Book Award-ACABA | Marketplace Minister | Patron at CLC Kids and Teens | Advancing God’s Kingdom through literature. 


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