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updated 5/1/2014 4:16:40 PM ET 2014-05-01T20:16:40

Self-publishing is no longer for fringe projects. With the mega-success of self-published books such as James Altucher’s Choose Yourself and even the Fifty Shades Of Grey series, self-publishing has gained support and respect worldwide. This is also because of the advances in the self-publishing world over the last few years. Now all you need to self-publish is the time it takes to write and set up your project.

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Being an author gives you credibility as an expert in your field. This doesn’t mean throw any old words on the page and expect success. If you truly have the time and experience to be an expert, writing a book will give you a competitive advantage.

Related: Want Clients to Know You Before a Pitch? Write a Book.

If you’re thinking about writing a book, self-publishing will help you save time and money. You can create your book and set it up for printing quickly. No writing query letters or filing rejections -- just you writing and marketing your book. If you really have the social network to support it and your book is valuable, you’ll also make a lot more money going the self-publishing route, as the cost-split between author and self-publishing printers is much more favorable for you than the financial arrangements common to traditional publishing.

If you're considering this route, here are a few of the major self-publish options you’ll want to check out along with what’s good and bad about each.

1. CreateSpace allows you to set up a self-published, print-on-demand book for free, if you’re willing to do the work. It’s an Amazon company, so once your book is loaded and ready to go, it’ll assign you an ISBN number and get you set up with your own Amazon page where fans can buy a paperback copy of your book. For the tech savvy, this can be a great option. It’s not particularly hard to use, as CreateSpace offers templates and free customizable covers, but it does require patience to format and edit your own work.

The great thing about CreateSpace is at the basic level, it is entirely free of set-up costs for paperback. If you decide you want a Kindle edition, that’ll cost you $69 to set up, but then everything else is taken care of. The cost of printing and shipping comes out of each book’s price at the point of sale, but the profit margin split is favorable and varies depending on the price you set for your own book.

2. Author House is a nicely supported self-publishing option. For those that don’t want to go it totally alone, the Author House team has copy editors, graphic artists and other experts who can help tailor your manuscript to the right audience, catch any grammatical errors and provide support. However, that support will cost you. Currently, an e-book-only version package starts at $799 up front and 50 percent royalties from all books sold. A bookstore version of your book in soft or hard copy will start at $1,299 up front and requires a 25 percent royalty for each copy sold online or 10 percent royalty for every copy sold in brick-and-mortar stores. The costs are higher, but the support is there for those who want expert help.

Related: Guy Kawasaki's Best Tips for Publishing Your Own Book

3. Xlibris is the global leader in self-publishing. Like Author House, it operates on a hybrid model of self-publishing freedom with traditional-publisher support. Its basic e-book packages start at $499 for set-up costs with the same standard 50 percent royalty payment on each copy sold. From there, Xlibris provides many types of packages to choose from, ranging from black-and-white soft-copy printed books for around $699 and 25 percent royalty splits, all the way up to a fully-designed, color-printed and professionally-marketed platinum-level package for your book starting at $15,249. Xlibris definitely has the most variety to choose from to accommodate any budget and desired amount of support.

A few other things to keep in mind when you’re self-publishing are first, to be aware of the printing costs. For platforms such as CreateSpace, printing is on-demand, which means copies are only printed when paid for, so there are no up-front costs to you. That is not exclusively the case with Author House or Xlibris, so check with your self-publishing choice ahead of time to find out what paying for the books up front might cost.

Also, bear in mind if you go the CreateSpace route, you won’t have any cover design, copy editing or professional feedback about your book from the basic, free option -- so consider the additional costs of hiring help for those services carefully when factoring in the true cost of your decision.

Finally, most self-publishers require an EIN number from the IRS for tax purposes. Make sure you have it handy before you pursue your self-publishing dream.

Related: 5 Must-Read Books For Every Entrepreneur

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