10 Benefits of Self-Publishing with Pencil
Self-publishing has become an ideal choice for people who like to have total autonomy in their writing career and prefer to look at it as an entrepreneurial venture rather than as a passion project to pursue on the side. Whether you’re a renowned writer or are new to the field altogether, the self-publishing method offers you independence from gatekeepers and mainstream publishers, lets you exercise maximum creative control, and allows you the chance to earn a greater share of the profits.
Technology has been steadily contributing to the growing independent publishing movement by giving more access to readers and consequently returning a lot of the decision-making power back to the writer. These authors can now evade the heavily monopolized physical distribution networks established by publishing houses and reach their audience directly through online channels. With the proliferation of digital publishing channels, many platforms made self-publishing their cause by shifting power balances in the publishing industry, helping authors take their books into new global territories, and ultimately transforming the publishing landscape.
Pencil is one such free self-publishing platform whose goal is to truly liberalize the publishing world by empowering writers to become globally published authors and then help their stories get discovered by the global reading community. Before we talk about some of the key benefits of using Pencil to write and publish, let us walk you through the unique publishing model that we follow and help you understand a little more about how Pencil functions.
Pencil is the world’s first incubated & accelerated publishing platform. This form of publishing views the process from an entrepreneurial lens by borrowing from the incubator and accelerator business models. It “accelerates” an existing author’s growth while “incubating” disruptive stories and ideas from new writers to mold them into published authors. This model works in three stages, which are as follows:
Stage 1: Publishing
The authors use the platform to create, publish, and distribute the book in eBook and paperback format worldwide. Pencil enables authors to publish their manuscript entirely free of charge, and helps them leverage a large distribution network to circulate the eBook and paperback formats of their book across 400+ channels in over 16 countries and regions, at zero cost. Pencil also handles some of the technicalities behind publishing for free, like generating an ISBN for each format of the book and converting your book to EPUB (for PDF) and POD (for print) formats. Possibly, the most attractive feature of the platform is its exceptional royalty payment: 70% of the net receipts for copies sold on Pencil itself, and 50% of the net receipts for the ones sold on every other platform.
Stage 2: Incubation
Pencil helps writers access analytics on how readers consume their book on the Pencil reader app. These insights enable the author to identify what demographics their audience belongs to, the exact areas or pages of the book where readers are going slow or dropping off, etc. This way, Pencil helps authors understand their readers and improve their book.
Stage 3: Acceleration
In this stage, Pencil provides authors with the unique opportunity to amplify their work further by making dynamic edits to the current version of the book, based on analytical insights and actual engagement from their readers. Pencil’s ‘Request New Version’ helps authors edit their content once published, using dynamic tools for book editing. Using Pencil’s platform, writers can now understand how their book is being read, make dynamic edits, and sell the new versions across the world in both paperback and eBook formats.
With that, let’s look at the top 10 advantages of using Pencil to publish a book:
- Free writing and publishing: Pencil’s service is built around helping writers become independent in both the creative and financial sense. The platform facilitates this by allowing authors to write, publish, and distribute different long and short-form content entirely free of charge, unlike others that permit posting short-format material like blogs and short stories for free, but charge writers for publishing complete novels and distributing them worldwide. While some platforms may allow you to write a book for free, they come with restrictions like charging authors for distribution or for generating ISBN codes or even lesser-known exclusivity clauses or limited distribution to other retailers, as is the case with KDP. Pencil is 100% transparent about all its terms and conditions and does not limit a writer’s reach by attaching any such restrictions.
- Free ISBN Registration for each book format: An International Standard Book Number, or ISBN, is a 13-digit code used as a unique identifier for books, enabling publishers, bookstores, libraries, and readers to find titles quickly. The mandate is that separate ISBN codes need to be generated and assigned to the paperback, hardcover, and e-book versions of the same book and each publication edition. Generally, authors would need to find an official ISBN administrator in their region, like Bowker in the United States or Nielsen in the United Kingdom, and then pick one ISBN per book format and pay for them. In India, the cost per ISBN is close to INR 3000, and two times that amount isn’t necessarily affordable. Pencil takes this responsibility away from the author completely by registering and assigning separate ISBNs across book formats and not charging the authors anything for it! An ISBN for your work is registered under Pencil as the publisher for your book, and the necessary ISBN(s) will be assigned and inserted on the copyright page and the back cover of your book.
- Highest royalty rates in the industry: Royalty is the amount paid to an author for each copy of a book sold. For every copy that a reader buys on the Pencil reader app, you will receive 70% of the net receipts as royalty. For every other platform, your royalty would be 50% of the net receipts. These rates are certainly more than what you would have received if you had decided to follow the traditional publishing approach, but they are the highest in the self-publishing industry too!
- Omni-distribution of eBook and paperback across the globe: Pencil is the first free publishing platform that aids Omni-distribution, i.e. your paperback book is available on all major retailers like Amazon, Flipkart, Barnes & Noble, and several more. Also, your eBook is made available on Amazon Kindle, Google Play Books, and Kobo, to name a few. With the help of our expanded distribution network, eBook and paperback formats of your books are made available to 400+retailers across 16 regions, including slightly more challenging ones like China and North America. To enable this, Pencil has built a tech-driven platform to enable increasing their digital book sales by publishing books to hundreds of stores and thousands of libraries worldwide. The distribution in the first stage is the widest available for eBooks and paperbacks (via Print on Demand) across all major markets globally.
- Assistance with professional services to produce high-quality novels: Regardless of the publishing route you take, your book must be of the highest quality in terms of content, appearance, and formatting, before you take it to your readers. Whether you’re a first-time author or an experienced one, first impressions matter, and it’s always necessary to add that professional touch to your completed manuscript. Pencil helps authors avail editing and design support at specific stages of the publishing process for a nominal charge. For example, while you’re writing the book, you will have an option to request assistance with editing, whereas you can seek design-related support from the respective screen if you’re in the design phase of the home page. All you need to do is fill up a form providing some details about your book, and specify what kind of service you’re looking for. Pencil will then assign a publishing advisor responsible for managing your project’s tasks and milestones until all the services you have purchased are delivered.
Most self-publishing authors who have decided to seek editorial help face the challenge of looking for compatible editors in their niche, understanding and reviewing their credibility and level of experience, and asking for a sample edit before finally setting out to work with them. Pencil uncomplicates all of this by providing an avenue for authors to connect with seasoned, verified editors who possess the required know-how in specific sub-genres and subject areas. The same goes for design. Pencil allows you to reach out to professional designers who can help you with all kinds of graphic and visual formatting, and general design-related queries pertaining to your book cover.
- Retention of copyrights: One of the biggest selling points of self-publishing is the author’s ability to retain sole rights to their work. The same is the case with Pencil too, which ensures that the author always owns the copyrights. With our agreement, we become your publishers, which merely allows us to distribute your work to multiple retailers worldwide.
- Real-time audience analytics and dynamic editing: One advantage that comes with any form of online content is the ability to judge its reception by the intended audience. Pencil makes this possible by providing writers access to data to help them understand how a reader consumes their book. In addition to knowing the basic demographics of your reader, you can also check the readability index of every page, how many people started to read the book and trailed off halfway through, where they have left it, etc. Moreover, Pencil gives authors a chance to bridge any gaps between their book and the readers’ perception of it by allowing them to make dynamic edits using the “Request a New Version” tool. It allows you to edit your work based on the reader’s consumption and feedback provided, thereby allowing you to sell new and improved versions of your book worldwide. When you want to withdraw any of your published works, you can put in a request for the book by clicking on ‘Request New Version’ under the Insights section. Once you’ve decided to go ahead with this, you’ll need to cite one of four reasons for creating a new version:
- to change the script based on user feedback
- to add content to an existing chapter
- to add a new section or chapter
- ‘other’ wherein you must briefly explain your reason (like revising plot points, reassessing characters, or amending your work to fit in better informed views on a subject)
Upon submission of your request, the Pencil team personally looks at the reasons to verify the validity of the request. On approval, depending on the retailers’ timeline, it can take anywhere between 6-8 weeks to delist your title from all major platforms. The next edition of the book will then be published and circulated as a new version across channels.
- Flexibility in terms of content formats and genres: Pencil is entirely flexible in terms of the content matter of the books and follows a genre-no-bar policy that allows a diverse range of content to be written and published via the platform. In addition to books, one can also use the Pencil writing platform to publish shorts in the form of short stories, poetry, blogs, or articles. While Pencil limits the circulation of shorts by only making them available on the Pencil reader app for free, it allows readers to access your short-format content that’s not necessarily a novel. Pencil also handles the techical side of things and converts your book to EPUB (for PDF) and POD (for print) formats for free. The minimum character limits or page thresholds are as follows:
- Up to 15000 characters: Can be published only as shorts; not eligible for distribution outside of Pencil.
- Less than 50 pages: Can be published in eBook format only; not eligible for distribution outside of Pencil.
- More than 50 pages: Can be published in both eBook and paperback formats; eligible for distribution everywhere.
- Automatic formatting and generation of mandatory pages: The Pencil editor comes with in-built formatting settings and best publishing practices such as black 12 point font, half-inch margin, alignment, etc. It also gives writers the option to change any of these settings if needed. For example, the alignment followed for prose is generally justified, whereas, for poetry, it is left-aligned. The editor maintains a familiar interface like any other word processor, simultaneously bringing in specific features needed for publishing. Pencil also allows writers to add chapters, sections, and pages to their manuscripts with one simple click. Plus, it auto-generates many of the mandatory front-matter and back-matter pages necessary for publishing, like the ones for copyright, table of contents, title page, cover page, etc.
- Bouquet of resources to help authors get better at writing and selling their work: Pencil aims to be a medium for everyone who wishes to tell a story. To further this cause, it provides different resources and tools to help writers get better at telling and selling their stories! On Pencil, writers can find creative prompts to jolt them out of writing blocks, blogs, and courses on various topics related to writing and publishing, contests on social media, etc., among many other resources. In addition to this, Pencil regularly hosts an exclusive marketing webinar under the Pencil Masterclass Series on How to Sell and Market your Book Worldwide. The best part is that this is complimentary for authors published with Pencil. We also keep adding webinars by global mentors under Pencil Masterclass related to tips on fiction writing, non-fiction writing, publishing, so keep a check!
Apart from the salient features highlighted above, another plus point of using a platform like Pencil is its easy, intuitive, user-friendly interface that makes the entire experience enjoyable, thereby making writing something you genuinely look forward to.
Being a writer, especially a full-time one, can be hard. But publishing need not be, and the Pencil clan strives to make it easy for everyone with a story and an undying passion for this wonderfully challenging art. With the right tools to simplify the whole process and the right resources to set every writer up for success, we’re here to give you everything you need to excel and see your dreams through. Pencil helps you remember that this is your book and aids you in carrying your vision from that first exciting thought to a published novel ready to be read by a global audience!