Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing: Which Is Better?
Choosing whether to publish your book yourself or go through a traditional publisher can feel like an overwhelming decision. A quick Google search will bring up disheartening stories about authors who have spent years trying to get a book deal, all their efforts to no avail. However, you can also read about indie authors claiming that self-publishing was a huge mistake.
So, how can you be sure which path is for you? To make your decision easier, we’ve laid out the benefits (and drawbacks) of both so you can choose the publishing option that’s right for you. As long as you are aware of what each one entails, you are in a stronger position to make a more informed decision.
Whichever option you choose, we offer services to authors to get their books published.
The pros of self-publishing
Self-publishing refers to an author publishing their work independent of a publishing company. The pros of going this route are:
- Faster timelines
The self-publishing process is much faster. In traditional publishing, getting a literary agent and finally landing a book deal can take years. Add to that many months (even up to a couple of years) before the book is launched. When you self-publish, you bypass much of this waiting game. If you are more concerned with getting your book out there as quickly as possible, then self-publishing would be a great option.
- More royalties
The royalty rate is a percentage of a book’s sales. With self-publishing, you enjoy a much higher one (50%-70%) than with traditional publishing (an average of 10%). Therefore, you don’t need to sell as many books when self-publishing. Before you get too excited about that higher number, however, keep in mind that it is harder for self-published authors to sell books.
- Creative control
As an indie author, you have complete control over all aspects of your work. This includes (of course) the writing inside but also everything else, from cover design and how the book is marketed to the title itself. You’re even in control of whether your book is published in the first place since traditional book deals are notoriously hard to get!
If you are particularly keen on making sure that your plot and characters remain largely unaltered, then self-publishing will offer you such enviable creative freedom. While you can’t do all the work required to publish your book, you get to choose the people you collaborate with to ensure that the end product is truly what you envision.
- Retention of rights
With self-publishing, you keep all the rights to your book, which means you can access the global market and sell your work in more countries. You also maintain rights for other formats, such as audiobooks.
The pros of traditional publishing
We speak of traditional publishing when an author submits a manuscript for publication through an established publishing company or hires a literary agent to do so. The pros of traditional publishing are:
- No upfront costs
If you self-publish, you are responsible for hiring the required professionals (like editors and cover designers) and shouldering all publishing costs. However, a publishing house assumes all financial responsibility, and you may even get an advance. If you don’t have the financial means to make your book a success, then traditional publishing would be your best bet.
People recognize publishing houses and trust that the books they release are of high quality. Whether or not that’s true, the reputation of a traditional publishing company is an advantage. You’ll also be eligible for more literary awards (though indie awards do exist). It can’t be denied that traditional publishing is still perceived as more prestigious than self-publishing, which can lead to greater opportunities for you down the road.
- Industry knowledge
A publishing house will have a team of professionals who know how to publish a book—from editors and cover designers to typesetters. It will either have staff in-house or existing relationships with freelancers. Without a publishing house, an indie author has little support, and the learning curve to publishing a book can be steep.
- Mainstream exposure
A publishing house will have the knowledge and budget to get your book in front of a larger audience. There is, of course, a marketing team to promote your book, but there is also a sales team that will work to get it into stores, which is something difficult for indie authors to do. This will potentially result in more sales.
What kind of publishing should you choose?
There is no single right answer to whether traditional publishing or self-publishing is better. What matters is choosing the option that is best for you and your book. Think about which benefits are most important to you and what you have the capacity to do yourself. Are you looking for industry know-how and lower financial risk, or are you more concerned about creative control and publication timelines?
Do you need more support in your publishing endeavor? Our professionals are here to help make your book a reality.