Tonight’s guest blog post is brought to you by writer / editor Sandra Miller.
Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
As a writer, if you want to get your words out to a wider audience and, ideally, earn some money along the way, you have two main options: to hire a traditional publishing agency, or to keep all the control over the process, and try yourself as a self-publisher. Both of the options have their own advantages and disadvantages, and here are the pros and cons of self-publishing over the traditional way that you should consider before you decide which road to take:
Autonomy. When self-publishing, as a writer, you also have complete control over the process of publishing, while the traditional publishing agency keeps the rights to have the final say over how the book is edited, or what cover design and copy to choose, and how to handle the marketing efforts.
Marketing. Largest part of the marketing attention and activities of the traditional publishers is focused on well-known authors who, for the luckiest, represent most of the writers they work with. But the Internet and the Social Media had made it possible for writers who have an established audience, like bloggers, or experts, speakers, to also successfully market their self-published work by themselves.
Timeliness. A traditionally published book can be found on the market, usually, after more than a year since it was first accepted for publishing, while you can distribute a self-published book in only few weeks, or months, at most.
Compensation. The compensation you’ll get from a traditional publisher is about ten percent or less, while if you self-publish your book, you’ll roughly get half of its sale price. In both situations, you can decrease some of your expenses by figuring your taxes.
Trial. If you’ve already tried to get to some literary agent or traditional publisher, but haven’t succeeded, you can try getting their attention by self-publishing a book. This opulent experience will also help you determine whether you can work through the traditional way of publishing.
Isolation. Yes, it’s great that you get to determine everything and have control over all aspects of the publishing process, but the catch is you don’t have all the needed skills and experience to do all that alone, so you’ll either have to acquire that knowledge, or find others to help you complete the tasks.
Selling. Selling a self-published book certainly isn’t easy. There are lots of activities you need to organize – identify your target readers, get the needed publicity materials, appear to certain events, or even host your own. This alone takes enough time and effort, without even considering the actual sale of the book.
Workload. You can choose to delegate some or all of your responsibilities around producing, marketing and selling your self-published book, or you can carry them all out by yourself. Either way, it will take you some time and effort, at least to manage and control them.
Expenses. If you decide to self-publish your book, you’ll have to be prepared to invest up-front in its production, marketing, distribution, while a contract with a traditional publisher would cover all the risk and the expenses, in some cases even providing an advance or pay out royalties. Also, when self-publishing, you need to hire a distributor for your book, because in most cases booksellers don’t buy books directly from their authors.
Prejudice. There are some self-publishing success stories, but we all have to admit that most of these books are poorly written and/or designed and the readers and agents can rightly assume there’s a valid reason the traditional publishers rejected their manuscripts. It also isn’t certain that if you have succeeded as a self-publisher once, you’ll get better chances to be accepted by a traditional publisher for a new edition of that book, or for a completely different piece of literature.
That was really interesting. Of all the 800+ authors I’ve interviewed only two have said that their publishers do all their marketing, yet the same authors are active on Twitter and Facebook so it’s a necessity for raising the profile – a necessary evil, some have said. 🙂 Thank you, Sandra.
Sandra Millers works as a writer at editing services Help.Plagtracker. She has a PhD in English literature.
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