There is a key distinction between traditional publishing vs self-publishing in the level of control that the author has over the publishing process. Self-published authors usually have to pay for their editing, cover design, and book marketing. This can be an excellent option for authors who want more control over their work and don’t mind doing some of the legwork themselves, they too own the rights to their books and keep 50-70% of royalties.
On the other hand, conventional publishing surrenders a great deal of power to publishers. They usually determine which books to produce, how many copies to print, and how to promote and distribute them. This can result in less-than-ideal outcomes for authors, who may have difficulty getting their books into the hands of readers.
As an author, you must decide whether to self-publish or go the traditional publishing route. Both options have their pros and cons that can affect your experience and career. Traditional publishing vs self-publishing: which path is best for you? Let’s take a closer look at the two choices.
Benefits of Self-Publishing
As a self-publisher, you don’t have to go through the process of trying to interest a literary agent or publishing house in your work. This means you can bypass the so-called “gatekeepers” of the publishing industry and get your work out without jumping through hoops.
Most traditionally published authors have to go through two gatekeeping rounds before their book is greenlit for publication. The first round is with an agent, who decides if the book has potential. If it does, they’ll shop it around to different publishers. Once an agent has been secured, the manuscript must then be accepted by a publishing house. The process of getting published involves a lot of competition from aspiring authors across the globe, both in the pre-publication and post-publication stages. This means that many aspiring authors take considerable amounts of time, sometimes even years, to complete their manuscripts before they can attempt to publish them, so the success rate for getting the book into production may not be very high.
You don’t have to worry about someone telling you no because, with self-publishing, the decision is entirely up to you. Many authors have gone through the dating cycle of finding an agent, submitting their work, and being rejected. They’ve decided that it’s better to take matters into their own hands and self-publish.
Quicker Publishing Timeline
Having a team of experienced editors, marketers, and designers can be extremely beneficial for a book deal as they can help make your book competitive in the market by giving it a professional look & feel. This includes enhancing the content & layout to ensure that your book is a top-notch title and stands out among others.
Despite the advantages of such a collaboration, it is often challenging and consumes a lot of time due primarily to the high volume of emails exchanged between you, your agent, and other internal stakeholders. In addition, maintaining open lines of communication can be difficult if everyone involved is not on the same page. Finally, making sure that all tasks are completed promptly can be a challenge if one party or another falls behind. When it comes to self-publishing, the timeline depends solely on the speed of you and your hired professionals (such as editors, designers, and marketing personnel) in completing their tasks.
When parties can communicate effectively with one another, the process is much simpler and more efficient. This way, tasks can be completed more quickly and deadlines can be met sooner.
Maximize Your Royalty Earnings
One of the biggest advantages of self-publishing is that you earn a higher royalty rate. With traditional publishers, you typically only earn 5-20% of the book’s sale price after any advance payments have been subtracted. However, when you self-publish, you get to keep a larger percentage of each book sold. The author’s royalty rate varies based on the format of the book. Although hardcover books have a higher author royalty rate, they are expected to sell fewer copies than paperbacks. This is because paperback books are usually less expensive, and therefore more appealing to buyers.
Self-publishing can be very lucrative, with authors typically earning between 50-70% royalties on the sales of their book, depending on the format and platform. This is a great option for authors who want more control over their work, or who have been unable to find a traditional publisher. As an indie author, you will get a higher rate because you did more of the work!
Protect and Safeguard Your Rights
One of the many advantages of self-publishing is that you maintain the right to publish your book in any format. This means you can release your book as an ebook, a paperback, or even a hardcover, without going through a publishing house. You also have the freedom to set your price point for each format.
When a publishing house agrees to publish a manuscript, they purchase the rights to it and become its legal owner. These may include the following:
- The right to be the first to publish a book (primary publication right) can give the author a significant advantage in terms of publicity and marketing, as well as helping to establish them as an authority on the subject matter.
- The subsidiary rights or the rights to publish the book in other formats, like an audiobook or film are often sold by the author to a publishing company to generate additional revenue from their work. In some cases, the author may retain these rights and negotiate separate deals with different publishers for each format.
- The acquisition of the book’s foreign rights will help to ensure that the book reaches a wide audience, both domestically and internationally. The publishing house will help to distribute the book to many different countries so that people all around the world will be able to read it. This will enable the book to have a much larger impact than if it were only available in one country.
Good literary agents have a deep understanding of the publishing industry and will work tirelessly to ensure that you retain the rights necessary for success. Giving up too many of these rights can hinder your ability to progress in your field and earn a good living.
Benefits of Traditional Publishing
There are a few key benefits to traditional publishing which you cannot achieve with self-publishing. You can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you won’t have to spend any of your own money on this project. The book market is huge and there’s always a lot going on, so it’s important to have an experienced team to help you make the best decisions about what content to include, what design elements will work well, and how to market the finished product.
Another important thing to note when comparing traditional publishing vs self-publishing is that as an indie author, you will be responsible for covering the costs of any outside help you seek. Writers who are just starting may be willing to work for free or for a very low rate, but once you’ve established yourself as an author, you need to be ready to pay professional rates.
With traditional publishing, there are no upfront costs for the author, and the publisher will pay for any editing, design, production, and marketing expenses associated with the book. An advance on royalties is also provided to compensate for all the hard work put in by the author. When determining how much money to ask for in an advance, it is important to consider the size of the publisher, the competitiveness of your genre, and your existing author platform.
If you are considering submitting your work to a publisher, be aware that if they ask you to pay, it is likely a vanity press. Vanity presses are businesses that publish books at the author’s expense, rather than the other way around. This means that the author pays to have their book printed and bound, and often must purchase a certain number of copies upfront. These businesses are not into quality or literary merit – but only in making money from gullible authors.
Greater Mainstream Exposure
A publisher’s expansive reach can benefit you by connecting you with new readers with who you might not otherwise be able to connect. This is especially beneficial if you’re not writing in niche sub-genres like techno-thriller or science fiction romance. A publisher’s reach can help you expand your audience and connect with new readers.
The kind of services that a publisher might offer for your book would depend on what they deem to be the most effective in terms of reaching out to and selling the maximum number of copies. It’s common practice for publishers to invest more time and resources into their lead titles since they have higher expectations of their success. To promote these books, they use tactics such as submitting them to book boxes, hosting pop-up stalls, creating special edition designs, and more. By ensuring that these books get the best marketing possible, the publisher increases the chances that they will become popular and generate buzz, leading to more sales.
Reaching the audience with your book is a major factor in determining its success. It’s vital that your book appeals to those who are likely to purchase it, or else you may not reach the level of success you hope for. A great authorial reputation can also be a plus, but other factors such as compatibility with recent reading trends are also important considerations. Although there is no guarantee that mainstream exposure is what your book needs, traditional publishing can significantly help promote your book if you believe it follows recent trends.
Access to Prestigious Awards
One of the most difficult areas for self-published authors to compete in is literary prizes and well-respected lists. Unfortunately, these prizes and lists rarely accept independently published works. This can be a huge barrier for self-published authors who are otherwise just as talented and deserving as their traditionally published counterparts. While it is great to be recognized with an award, such as the Pulitzer Prize, remember that there are other ways to gauge the success of your work. Awards are one way to measure success, but they are certainly not the only way.
Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing: Which is Right for You?
Deciding which publishing route to take can be a difficult task, depending on your goals and the type of content you are looking to produce. Consider factors such as cost, reach, and promotional tactics when deciding what kind of publishing is best for you. We hope this article has given you enough information to make an educated decision on which type of publishing to choose. When comparing traditional publishing vs self-publishing, remember that each has its own set of pros and cons that you should take into consideration before making your final decision.