• Vancouver, British Columbia

Why I chose to self-publish

When I first thought about publishing a book, all I knew about it was to approach a traditional book publisher. However, of course, breaking into the traditional book market without any formerly published work seems sheerly impossible. While writing itself is considered a craft or an art, we cannot move on blindly to the next step without thinking business. Why would a traditional and well-established publisher put his faith into your pen and bet on a horse that has not run a mile, yet? An investment into the unknown and, most of all, a financial risk. It may sound harsh because you have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into your drafts, however, it is also, from a business point of view, a product that needs to be sold.

To make a long story short, breaking into the book or publishing market is like asking, “What came first?” because how can you publish your first book without having published a book prior to this one? That is where Amazon’s KDP service comes in handy, offering the perfect solution for first-time authors who like to be recognized as such.

The benefits were obvious to me:

  1. Establishment.
    Let’s be realistic. We may have no other choice but to self-publish first. You have written your first novel or non-fiction book and want to be recognized as a writer. I am sorry to burst your bubble, but usually, this does not work, unless you have a network of professional connections in the publishing world. If you have not even tried to submit your book to a traditional publisher or have been facing rejection, self-publishing your book will help you establish your reputation as a writer at your own pace. Reviews can serve as references that may make your book more attractive to traditional publishers if you decide to go that route eventually.

  2. Control.
    When self-publishing you have control about everything. That includes the content and formatting of your book, the cover design, the date of publication, revisions, advertising, promotions, and even the pricing itself.

  3. Copyright.
    As a self-publisher you own 100% of the copyright of your book which you will have to revoke when signing with a traditional publisher.

  4. Royalties.
    Amazon offers up to 70% in royalties for the sales of your book which are solely your own.

  5. Amazon’s customer service.
    Amazon’s customer service not only responds fast but to the detail to my requests. I am feeling comfortable and respected as an author and customer on their platform. Issues are usually resolved within less than 24 hours via email or you can call them, as well. KDP also offers a plethora of free advice for new publishers and writers on how to get the most out of the KDP service and present themselves as professional authors. Since Amazon earns their fair share with your sales, they truly want you to succeed.

  6. If you are in Canada.
    One of the downsides of KDP is that it solely available in the United States, meaning, foreign publishers will have to declare their KDP sales as a foreign income with the IRS. However, on the flipside, Canadians enjoy a variety of local benefits as self-publishing authors. The Canadian government distributes ISBNs for free via ISBN Canada while other countries request an $80-140 fee per ISBN, which can become quite costly not only if you decide to publish your book in different media formats but if you accidentally make a mistake and require to register a new ISBN. Registering yourself as a Canadian author is as simple and fast as creating a new email account; the same applies to registering the copyright for your book ($50 CAD). The only thing the Canadian government requires you to do is to deposit your work through the legal deposit program, i.e. to submit either a digital copy (in case of an ebook) or a physical copy (in case of a paperback) to the Library and Archives Canada.

    The benefits of Amazon’s KDP service are obvious, but why should you still consider going the traditional route afterwards? The answer is short and simple: Distribution.
    Having your book enrolled in KDP won’t get it on the shelves of your local bookstores or into popular online stores such as Chapters, Indigo, or Barnes & Noble. Therefore, Amazon offers first-time authors a perfect solution to build a reputation and then take this information and transition to a traditional publisher in order to advance the distribution of your book.

    Is it still possible to approach a traditional publisher once your book is out on Amazon and has an ISBN assigned to it? Of course it is! Many books have been published by various publishers under the same title before. (At this point, I highly recommend you to register your own ISBN for your book instead of letting Amazon assign theirs in order to avoid distribution or copyright challenges in the future.)
    Approaching a traditional publisher and signing a contract will have an impact on the copyright, your royalties, ISBN, and everything else you once had control over, so you will need to ask yourself at which place your book may find a greater audience. If your book is already a best-seller on Amazon, why change? If not, maybe it is time to consider the other way.

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