Is Self Publishing Worth It

Is Self Publishing Worth It in 2023 (The Real Truth)

Are you looking into self publishing to make money? Or do you want to know if self publishing is better than print on demand? In this article we compare self-publishing and print on demand to see what options are better for new and established authors.

So is self publishing worth it and should you do it? As a new publisher the answer is no but under certain circumstances there are benefits to buying books in bulk to sell on other sites similar to Amazon.

What is Self-Publishing?

Is Self Publishing Worth It with a typewriter machine

Self-publishing is when you publish your own media without the involvement of an established publishing company. Media refers to things like books or magazines that you can release with the help of PoD (print on demand) companies or by companies that you have to order from yourself. But self-publishing can be anything from games, video content, artwork etc. so this does not only play to books. 

In the traditional publishing route the publisher bears all cost and risk, but gains most of the profit for himself if the book succeeds. But bear in mind that self publishing is more risky and hard for first time authors, so a print on demand company like Amazon is a good choice when starting out. 

Difference Between Self-Publishing and Print On Demand


Self-publishing is when you publish your own books without the involvement of a publishing company. But do not mistake this because you will use a company for ordering your books and most of those companies are publishing companies. But what you want to do is to buy a bunch of books, do your own marketing and promote your books and in the end get book sales. 

If you are a person with a big following on social media or in any other way have a big following this can actually be beneficial to you. Without the middleman you will be able to earn more money and most of the cash will end up in your pocket. 

Self-publishing also offers different kinds of bindings and materials compared to print on demand companies. With complete creative control over your content, you can chose a way of working that suits you and your life.

Print on Demand

Print on demand is when you use an established publisher like Amazon KDP (kindle direct publishing) where you upload your book to their site. When you get an order on your book they print it and ship it to the customer for a small fee. This is a carefree way of selling your books and it also is a lot easier for authors who want to get their books out without having their own inventory. It is also great for people who publish a lot of books like children’s books, planners, wedding books etc. 

This model might sound like the best one because it is so easy but most print on demand companies also take a % of the money that the book is sold for. If you have a book that sells for $10 and the printing cost is $3 you should earn $7 right? No, in this case Amazon takes 30% of the money and you are left with 70% = $4,9. But this is still a really easy and great way if you want to focus on creating books instead on focusing on marketing.

Is Self Publishing Worth It?

My personal opinion is that it is not worth it at all. The books I have created and published on Amazon KDP usually have a book cover design of 6 x 9 inches and have 120 pages with interior. The printing cost for me is $2.29 USD and that is as low as it gets and why would I want to buy books that I might not be able to sell. Yes Amazon will take 40% of the profit from my royalty rate over $2.29 USD, but if I did all the marketing, ads myself it will still cost me money and time so it is not a bad deal.

Second thing with Amazon KDP is that Amazon has around 80% of the book market in the USA. So if you want to get a good outreach you still have to be on Amazon. Yes you could put your books out the regular way and get more profit, but if you are not familiar with that and are a new writer I really suggest that you start with Amazon KDP.

Why Self-Publishing is Bad For New Published Authors

  1. It costs a lot of money to buy books and keep inventory.
  2. Expensive to send your books to everyone.
  3. Problems with refunds and time consuming.
  4. You have to have money for ads and book marketing.
  5. Takes a lot of your time and you have to know what you are doing.
  6. What if your book is a flop, you lost a lot of your investment.
  7. It is hard to keep track of all of the expenses.

How Much Does It Cost To Self-Publish a Book

a typewriter showing text

When you are looking to self-publish a book most people just think about buying the book from a book printing company. But the reality is that most people who look into self-publishing have a lot of different costs like editing, cover design, formatting, marketing and selling. If you are a serious creator who has made a book that you want to sell around the world you need to factor these costs in.

The cost for an author to publish a book is between $450 to $5,100 per book. This cost depends on how much of the services you need but a good price range is that an editor costs around $2,000 USD and $750 USD for a book cover designer. 

I checked GateKeeperPress for their prices for printing 1000 books, 6×9 inches, 200 pages, paperback, black and white interior and here are the results. 

Standard Cost:
Unit Cost: $3.95 each
Subtotal: $3950.00 
Shipping Cost: $494.95
Total Cost: $4444.95

So the price for each book is $4.445 USD.
But don’t forget that you have to calculate all the other costs and calculate how much your time is worth. It really is a huge cost to take for a new author and it is always hard to calculate how many books you will be able to sell. So is self publishing worth it when you look at these calculations, most likely not. 

But there are benefits to it also so keep reading.

List of The 17 Best Self-Publishing Companies

If you are looking into the idea of self-publishing and want to find the best publishing houses this is the list for you.

  • Apple Books
  • Barnes & Noble Press
  • Blurb
  • BookBaby
  • BookBub
  • Draft2Digital
  • IngramSpark
  • KDP Print
  • MindStir Media
  • PublishDrive
  • Rakuten Kobo
  • Reedsy
  • Reedsy Discovery
  • Smashwords
  • StreetLib
  • Written Word Media
  • XinXii

It is a great idea to click around on every site to see what price they can offer so you know you are getting the best deal for your book purchases.

Why Amazon KDP is the best PoD Company

There is one reason why Amazon is the best print on demand company and that is because they have over 80% of the American market. No other company sells as many books as Amazon does and if you are a serious publisher who wants to sell lots of books and earn a hell lot of money this is the place for you.

One thing that is crucial to me is that the listing fees are relatively low. The individual Amazon seller does not have to pay anything until they sell something. Book publishers who sell on Amazon also know that their product will arrive on time with little to no hassle, and even if something would happen Amazon takes care of it for them. It really is a great system for both the company and anyone selling on the platform.

List of Print On Demand Companies Like Amazon

If you are looking for alternative print on demand platforms like Amazon here are 11 different sites to check out.

  • Ingramspark
  • Draft2Digital
  • Acutrack
  • Lulu
  • Bookbaby
  • The Book Patch
  • Blurb
  • Trafford
  • Diggy POD
  • Espresso Book Machine
  • 48hr Books

If your goal is to sell a book that is unique, one of these platforms is better and might offer better options than Amazon. If you want to sell a spiral bound notebook on Etsy or Redbubble these are options you have to look into so do not be locked to Amazon if you want to go wild with different book types.


So is self publishing worth it and is it something you should try? As a new publisher I want to recommend that you start with the print on demand option that Amazon or tany of the options the other sites offer. Because you do not have to put your money at stake if your book should be a flop.

Have you self published before and have a great success story with it or you failed miserably? Share it in the comments below.


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