Whether you’re an experienced or a novice writer, it’s crucial to learn about the different ways you can get your book published since this will largely determine how much actual control you have during the process, how much you may have to spend, and how much promotion your book will actually receive once it’s available to read.

Many people will immediately choose either self or traditional publishing without reading up about the differences between the two and the experience that both methods offer, which can often lead to unwanted issues arising and their book not being presented in the way they intended, which is why it’s so important to learn what makes them unique. 

So that you can make an informed decision, here is all you need to know about self-publishing and traditional publishing including their pros and cons, along with which you should choose.

What Is Self Publishing?

Self publishing means that you, the author, will be in charge of the production, management, and arrangement of the book, along with all of the marketing aspects.

There are many online services that will assist with self-publishing such as providing tools to create a viable marketing strategy and handprint-on-demand services that will print a book as soon one is ordered, meaning the author won’t have to order the book in excess to then sell them. 

While these tools are accessible, self publishing is still primarily down to the author themselves who will be in charge of customizing and promoting their book individually. 

Pros Of Self Publishing

Depending on your current circumstances and the nature of the book you’re trying to sell, both forms of publishing can be useful, however, if you want greater control over your work, self publishing is often seen as the much better option. 

Here are some of the major pros of self publishing a book:

  • Accessibility – Getting in contact with a publishing house and publishing agent can be incredibly difficult and very time-consuming, usually taking at least several months to finally hear back from the publishers whether your book has been selected as viable to publish or not. Self publishing negates this entirely, making the process much quicker and a lot more accessible.
  • Confidence in Your Writing – Publishers are looking for books that will sell, meaning if they don’t recognize your work as profitable, they can refuse or take much longer to publish a book if it’s more niche. Self publishing allows you to publish any kind of book, giving you more confidence in getting creative rather than writing just to please the market. 
  • Much Faster Publishing – The publishing world moves very slowly, with most books not even hitting shelves for at least a year and a half. With self publishing, the author can move at their own pace and choose their own release date. 
  • Greater Creative Control – When self publishing, you will get the final say on your book’s design, title and how it is marketed which is a degree of creative freedom you don’t get when handing it over to a publishing house. 

Cons Of Self Publishing

While you will have creative creative control and agency over your work, there are a few drawbacks with self publishing that you should keep in mind, here are the main ones:

  • Cost of Publishing – Definitely the biggest hurdle for self publishers is the cost since they will be required to pay for the book’s full production themselves which can often be thousands of dollars. You will therefore need to be willing to invest a decent sum if you’re thinking of publishing a book yourself. 
  • Distribution – While self published authors can list their published books on online websites such as Barnes & Noble, because of the lack of a professional publishing team it means the chances of your book appearing at actual stores is very unlikely with most self publishers needing to pitch their book to local stores instead. 

What Is Traditional Publishing? 

What Is Traditional Publishing

As the name suggests, traditional publishing is a much older method of publishing books which essentially refers to the established network of publishers and authors that has been used for centuries to promote and distribute books.

The way this works is the author will reach out to a publishing agent who will then help them sell their book to a publishing house. This publisher will then be in charge of the design, editing, printing, distribution and part of the marketing.

Pros Of Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing allows you to work with a team of professionals who will ensure your book is on store shelves once the process is complete. Here are some of the main benefits that come with traditional publishing:

  • Production Cost – Traditional published books will not require the original author to pay anything for production which can make it far more accessible if you’re running on a strict budget. 
  • Professional Marketing – While a publishing team will handle a lot of the marketing, the author still gets a say in how it is done and what methods they prefer to use which means you won’t need to learn about digital marketing for several months before trying to promote your book. 
  • Available In Stores – Unlike self publishing where getting your book on actual bookstore shelves is an enormous challenge, this is much easier with traditional publishing since the publishing team will edit and promote your book with the intention of selling it physically. 

Cons Of Traditional Publishing

There are a handful of drawbacks that come with traditional publishing however that can make it a lot more arduous and complex than self publishing, here are the main downsides:

  • Publishing Time – You should only choose traditional publishing if you don’t mind waiting at least a year or in most cases two years for your book to be finally published. Contacting an agent and working with a publishing team is a long process that can seem a little tedious at times. 
  • Changes to Your Work – The publisher is trying to make a book as profitable and sellable as possible, which is why with traditional publishing, the design, cover, and even some of the text can be edited to fit a particular style.
  • Royalties – Authors of traditionally published books will on average earn around 7% royalties from a paperback and nearer to 12% on a hardback. This is a lot lower than a self publishing author who will earn nearly everything except for the printing and retailers cut. 

Final Verdict: Should I Choose Self Or Traditional Publishing?

If you know that your book is going to be more tailored towards a niche market, you want to keep a higher amount of your royalties and you have enough funds to publish your book independently, self publishing is a much faster method, it’s just crucial to keep in mind that it’s unlikely your book will reach major book store shelves this way. 

In contrast, if you know your book fits well into the market and has commercial appeal and you want that professional assistance with the design and marketing of the book along with getting your book on store shelves, traditional publishing is the better way to go, just remember that you will be giving up a good amount of creative agency and will be required to wait a few months minimum for the final publication.

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