10 cons of desktop publishing


The odds of becoming a successful self-publisher can seem daunting to a beginner. But if you are really serious about seeing yourself in print and using your writing to help as many people as possible, then no number of negatives can stop you from achieving your goals.

However, when reading this list, keep in mind that there is no one right way to publish your book. Therefore, it is important for each writer to consider their own goals, reasons, and resources before opting to go the traditional book publishing route or the desktop publishing route.

Here are ten reasons why desktop publishing might not be the right thing for you when trying to publish your new book:

1. No guarantee of success

There are no guarantees of any kind of success with desktop publishing, or with any type of publication or business, or in life in general. This is how it is. One of your publications that you put all your effort into could sell one copy a week. And the next one will sell 100 per week. You won’t know for sure which of your books will sell well until you write and publish it. And to make the whole desktop publishing process more interesting, you take 100 percent of the financial risk. If you can’t deal with any of that, then desktop publishing is not for you.

2. High out-of-pocket expenses

Startup costs for desktop publishing can be very high if you foolishly buy and receive a large number of books from a print shop. And then spend the next three years trying to sell them. And then get tired of the whole process and sell them to a big chain of bookstores for pennies on the dollar. Where do you think those expensive coffee table books on the bookstore discount table come from?

3. Choosing a particular niche for your writing can be nonsense

There is a market and an audience for every imaginable niche. But if you’re hoping to make money writing about your particular micro-niche, you’d better choose wisely and really know what you’re writing about. A traditional publisher will probably not accept your book if its micro-nice is too small to be profitable. They will help you make your book more marketable to a wider audience. But if you don’t want that kind of professional help, you can self-publish your book on a very dark subject that interests you, and not many others, and languish in the dark.

4. Reviews can be expensive

Revisions can be very expensive if you haven’t already sold most of your starting inventory of books – that inventory you foolishly ordered in bulk to lower the price per copy, and are now storing it in your basement.

5. Distribution is limited

Distribution may be limited because chain bookstores, for the most part, do not accept self-published books. But eventually you will find other outlets for your books. You can do your own distribution by looking for a bookstore that accepts self-published books in your niche. You can also sell and distribute your books directly to buyers who contact you through your own website. Shipping fees, bookstore fees, and distribution company fees will take a big chunk of your profit. And all of this takes time away from your writing.

6. The fiction market is very difficult

The fiction market can be particularly tough to sell, especially for new or unknown authors. It’s especially difficult to get a following for your fiction without the backing of a traditional editor. And most critics won’t touch your book with a ten-foot pole.

7. It can be time consuming

Desktop publishing is time consuming, especially if you expect to make money from it. Don’t forget that with desktop publishing you are responsible for all aspects of production, marketing, sales, design, copywriting, advertising, finance, website design, etc. of your book. It can easily become an important part of your life.

8. You must accept returns and make refunds.

If your books don’t sell, stores return them to you for a refund. And pay for shipping both ways. You can offer a bigger discount and write a special contract that rejects returns, but stores won’t accept it. Accepting returns and giving refunds can be a dangerous and costly game for a self-publisher with limited financial resources.

9. There is enormous competition

If you’re afraid of competition and the challenge of building a following for your posts, then desktop publishing is certainly not for you. Competition is what keeps you on your toes and you are constantly striving to offer a better product and helping more people in the process. It’s called capitalism. If you don’t have the gut fortitude for a good challenge and a chance to help people with your books and earn a little money while doing it, then a life of desktop publishing is not for you.

10. Big learning curve

There is a very big learning curve for desktop publishing. It can take a few years to learn all the ins and outs of desktop publishing. In addition, you must know the ins and outs of the publishing industry and also all aspects of running a small business.


Sure, the odds of becoming a successful self-publisher can seem overwhelming. But hey, that’s life. If you are really serious about seeing yourself in print and using your writing to help as many people as possible, no amount of negatives can stop you from achieving your goals. I tell you this because I know it to be true.

I have learned to overcome or overcome all the obstacles that I have encountered in desktop publishing and in business. And you can too. And don’t forget that starting out as a self-publisher doesn’t stop you eventually from going to a traditional publisher down the road, and the reverse is also true.

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