There are many reasons that can lead a creator to make the decision to self-publish. The pursuit of complete autonomy, the desire to exercise control over the entire publication process, and the desire to offer the audience a more personal work are just a few examples. The self-publisher also receives a greater percentage of the proceeds from his work of which he can decide the selling price. It may be recalled, as an indication, that on average in the classical publishing world (in France, for ex.), 55% of the price of a book makes it possible to remunerate its distribution, 20% the printing, 18% the publisher, and the remaining, around 7%, corresponds to copyright. In Quebec, these figures differ slightly: the author generally receives 10%, the publisher 30%, the distributor 20% and the bookseller 40%. The self-publisher, depending on his choices, has more limited distribution and publishing costs, but on the other hand often higher printing costs (due to the small number of copies). The fact remains that he can generally set a price below market prices, which is an advantage. Depending on the reason behind their business, creators pursue different objectives that will influence their choices of production (aesthetics, print run) and distribution (ISBN, sale price, recourse to an intermediary).
In addition, self-publishing makes it possible to distribute texts that hardly fit into the normal framework of the publishing world. It is a means adapted to modest-sized projects in very specialized fields (regional history, technical field, etc.).
Some authors who have succeeded in the field of traditional publishing may choose to become their own publisher, with the same means and methods as a traditional publisher: we can cite Marc-Édouard Nabe, who has become the leading figure in this new editorial medium. – which he calls “anti-publishing”. Nabe describes the intermediaries of the publishing world, such as the bookseller and the distributor, as parasites, and questions the role they are supposed to play: “Why would an author be content to earn 10% on his work, when others stuff themselves in passing with 34%, like booksellers?”
Self-publishing is relatively common in comics. Designer Claire Bretécher mentions that it was his desire for independence and the prospect of increased income that motivated him to embark on self-publishing: “It takes a lot of energy, but you earn more money. And then the editors are so paternalistic.”
Self-publishing can also be an option in theatrical publishing. In fact, with regard to the theater, the author does not only receive income from the sale of his books, but also and above all from the performance rights for his works. It may therefore be more relevant for a playwright to offer his texts for free download on his own site in order to facilitate access and circulation. By renouncing to collect rights on the sale of his texts, a playwright can thus hope to generate more presentations of his plays and therefore receive greater income in the form of performance rights.