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Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing: Pros & Cons

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

Are you looking for more information about how to publish your book? It is crucial that you make this decision before moving on to other stages of your book publishing process. It can save you time and money and doing some well-researched decisions will save you a lot of headaches.

I bet you've encountered the topics of Traditional publishing and Self-publishing everywhere but still, you're not sure which one suits you better.

Being a writer today, in this digital era, means that you have plenty of options. And it may be overwhelming to learn about them all and how to even go about it.

In this post, you will learn some terms around both topics, pros & cons, which will give you a better scope of what they are and hopefully help you to decide what's best for you.

What is Traditional Publishing?

traditional publishing vs self-publishing your book

The traditional route is when a publisher offers a deal to the author to publish and distribute their book. The publisher will be in charge and manage all activities related to your book release such as editing, design, marketing, and printing. The drawback is that you don't really have ownership of your book anymore and you receive a percentage of royalties in exchange for all the services they offered you to get your book out there.

Pros of Traditional Publishing

  • Production costs are covered by the publisher

  • You gain publishing connections

  • Less responsibilities. They will manage your project and make a lot of the decisions for you.

  • Distribution to physical bookstores

Cons Traditional Publishing

  • Very competitive - you must apply to thousands of publishers in the hope they offer you a deal. (TIP: Most writers who do get a deal, have an agent. So, consider applying to a literary agent first.)

  • You lose control of your project (from cover design to marketing, they now make all the calls)

  • You are under a contract, so you depend on their deadlines and production line timelines

  • You technically don't own your book anymore

  • Less profit for you

What is Self-Publishing?

self-publishing your book online

Self-publishing is the process of taking control of all activities involved in releasing your book as an author. You will be in charge of deciding the typesetting, editing, cover design, marketing among others. But being in charge doesn't mean that you will have to do it all by yourself! Hiring contractors and experts in their field to help you within the process is a must. You will have to make all the decisions like how and where to print your book, but also where to sell it.

With online publishers like Amazon KDP and Ingramspark, getting your book out there and keeping control is easier and more available than ever.

Technology here helps you a lot by giving you the chance to print on demand, publish a digital version of your book, or print it in batches.

Plus, going on the self-publishing route does't mean you have to feel like you’re doing it all on your own! The contractors your hire, if they've been in the industry for awhile, are usually well-connected or may even have already established team-of-collaborators that are ready to assist you to complete the rest of your project - for example, we work with editors and typesetters who we trust and collaborate with on the same projects quite often.

Pros of Self-Publishing

  • You keep more of the return! Earn an average of 70% on royalties on e-versions and 50% on printed ones

  • You guarantee that your book will be published as long as you are willing to put in the work

  • You don’t have to wait to receive a deal from a publisher. You can get in the market faster and finally make that dream of publishing your book a reality!

  • You maintain all control. Plus you have the ability to build your own team of experts that you hand-pick based on your budget and your preferences

  • You can go big or as a small as you want. You decide how you want your book to be published- ebook or print version? or both?, Will your ebook be available in both Amazon Kindle and Apple books stores? etc.

  • Distribution tools - Some self-publishers/ book distributors like Ingramspark offer options to distribute physical copies to bookstores as well as online to international markets.

  • There's Print-On-Demand options ! So you don't have to buy boxes and boxes of books! (unless you want to)

Cons of Self-Publishing

  • Production costs are covered by you

  • If your budget is too small, you may struggle finding ‘real experts’ that fit your budget in order to complete the activities you don't know about

  • More responsibilities

  • Time-consuming

self-publishing authors books

So, before you make a choice, consider the following tips.

If you decide on Traditional Publishing don't forget...

We would like to share with you some important points to keep in mind if you are leaning into this type of publishing.

  1. Be sure to do your research on their application process before applying to ensure you have the best chance at receiving an offer

  2. Read carefully what they offer adn what they’d request from you- their royalties, required deadlines, etc. and consider a lawyer’s advice before signing a contract, you don't want to miss any single detail

  3. A rejection now, doesn’t mean forever, if you end up deciding to self-publish for now and your book becomes successful, a book publisher can always offer you a deal to re-publish it. So, keep growing your network and enjoy the process!

If you decide on Self-Publishing don't forget...

If you are leaning more into the adventure of Self-Publishing, you need to keep these points into consideration. We've primarily work with self-published authors, so these tips are based on our experience with them.

  1. Set a reasonable budget for everything and be open to suggestions made by the experts as well. We often get authors desperately looking for a second cover, all because they didn’t want to invest much in the first place and their original designer has left them hanging or they didn’t meet their expectations. We are proud to make a cover that really tells your story and makes you happy.

  2. Think outside the box at all times! Build your own personal brand and be creative on the way to market and promote your book.

  3. Consider starting small. Because of the lower initial investment, most self-published authors, prefer to publish an ebook version of their book first, then- once they have some sales or a bigger budget, they invest on doing a print-run. This is something I highly recommend for those authors that want to be cautious or have a tighter budget.

  4. Consider experts that offer you custom packages and custom quotes. These are best because you don’t want to pay for things you don’t need and you definitely want to work with professionals that have integrity, where you are not just a number on a production line of 30 titles a month. If you find the right team that truly has your back, they would advice you on what’s best for you - not what’s best for the publishing house

Now that you know the main differences between Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing, you've got a choice to make. Hopefully, this blog post will help you decide which one the best fit for you and make your dream of being a published author a reality!

To find more information about the Self-Publishing services we offer, be sure to visit the rest of our website. We would love to be part of your journey, make it more enjoyable, and of course help you reach your goals. And be sure to follow us on Instagram, we're always sharing new tips for authors and writing motivation.

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