One of the first questions people ask me when I explain what I do, is “What is self-publishing?” so in this knowledge-base article, we’re going to look at what self-publishing is and why this route may be better for you.

What is self-publishing?

Self-publishing is exactly what it says on the tin.

You, as the author of the book, take on the role of publisher and do everything that a publisher does.

But what does a traditional publisher do?

A traditional publisher does two things:

1. Primarily, they are an investor in your book, and as an investor, they do so with the intent of making a profit. They acquire the right to publish your book then publish it. They then give you recompense in the form of royalties. The bigger publishers may be so confident that your book will sell that they give you an advance on those royalties.

2. They polish, publish and promote your book so that they can make as much money from it as possible for as long as they are contracted to do so.

They essentially take your manuscript and:

  • do the editing
  • format your text
  • sort out your book covers and promotional images
  • organise the printing and distribution of your book
  • promote you book
  • pay you some royalties.

You write the book, they do the work, and you get paid. Simples!

However, because traditional publishers are investors, they tend to only invest in “sure-things”. For this reason, not all authors will find a publisher willing to risk their money, especially where the person is unknown.

Why Are More People Choosing the Self-Publishing Route

There are several key reasons why more and more people are choosing the self-publishing route:

1. It’s no longer considered vanity publishing. An increasing number of authors have become very successful in publishing their own books. It’s no longer seen as vanity but as a viable option to releasing your book on your terms. Which brings me neatly to…

2. Control. When someone takes over your book, there is a risk that you lose control of it. When you take on the role of publisher, you get to choose the images, the shape and the direction your book takes.

3. Speed. Traditional publishing has its own processes and its own timeline. Your book may not get the priority you want, and for this reason, it may take longer to launch. They may also push more resources on a book more likely to be a bestseller or to win awards. No one has more interest in your book than you.

4. Print on demand. With the advent of print-on-demand services like KDP, self-publishers no longer have to fund a print run of their book. This takes out much of the financial risk, especially when you’re starting out.

5. Profit. When you look at the number of books sold by traditional publishers and factor in the number of authors they work with, the average number of books sold per author isn’t as high as you’d expect. Self-published authors have the opportunity to build a loyal brand, generating more in sales and getting a higher percentage of the royalties as a result.

The Downside to Self-Publishing

Whilst publishing your own book has many advantages, it doesn’t take away the fact that as a self-publisher, you have to take on all the roles of a traditional publisher. So, you either learn to do it yourself or outsource specific roles.

1. Polishing your book. That means finding editors with experience in your genre, getting proofreaders and typesetters to create a manuscript that is published to a professional standard

2. Marketing. As you write your book, you should also be building your author platform. This is your website, social media platforms and email list as a minimum. Several authors have also set up podcasts and YouTube channels. People can’t buy a book if they don’t know it exists, and your job is to ensure that the people who buy books in your genre know you and your book not only exist but are worthy of investing in.

3. The finished article. From your book cover, to the choice of paper and different formats, all the choices around the published article are down to you.

Is self-publishing for you?

There are many advantages to self-publishing, and on the face of it, you only have two options, but in reality, you actually have four.

  1. Get someone else to publish your book i.e. a traditional publisher. If you’re open to the traditional route, consider querying literary agents and submitting your manuscript to publishing houses. This option may suit those seeking a supportive team and wider bookstore distribution.
  2. Hire someone to publish your book. There are hybrid publishers that do the publishing for you, you pay for a specific package that includes a limited print run.
  3. Do it yourself. If you value creative control, want to publish quickly, and are willing to handle the marketing, self-publishing may be the perfect path for you.
  4. Do it yourself with help. This is where we come in.


Self-publishing is an empowering and viable choice for new authors who are venturing into the world of publishing. With the increasing number of people choosing self-publishing and the potential for higher royalties, it’s a path worth considering. However, remember that both options have their pros and cons, so weigh them carefully to make the decision that aligns best with your goals and dreams. Whether you choose self-publishing or traditional publishing, remember that your voice and story matter, and the literary world is waiting for your unique contribution.

Why Grey Mouse Publishing?

I have a very different philosophy around self-publishing, and aim to teach you the processes involved in publishing your own books by starting off with the very simplest of books: the notebook. We then move on to journals and once you have build up some confidence and some wins, then you’re ready to tackle your signature book.

If you’d like to have a chat, then just book a call.