For first-time authors, choosing between traditional publishing and self-publishing could be tricky. The answer could vary depending on the author, the book and other factors.
For example, if you’re a new author who wants more than 70 percent of the royalty, then self-publishing might be for you. If you don’t want to deal with finding your own distributor, marketing your own book, or if you don’t mind getting at least 20 percent royalties, then go for traditional publishing.
What’s the Difference Between Traditional and Self-Publishing?
The key difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing has to do with royalties. With self-publishing, the author owns the rights and royalties to the book. Meanwhile, traditional publishing means that the publishing company owns the rights and royalties to your work.
Of course, there will be pros and cons.
Since self-published authors are generally not backed by a publishing house, they’re going to be handling more responsibilities like printing, distribution, marketing and sales, among other things.
For new or unknown authors, traditional publishing means submitting your manuscript and pitching the marketability of your story. Your manuscript will likely be among hundreds of other submissions, waiting to be read and ideally, given the greenlight. What all this means is time; you’ll have to wait a long while, from months to maybe a year, before you get any kind of response to your submission.
Self-publishing doesn’t require another entity’s permission, although some platforms (like Amazon) would have a criteria against content it will not publish. And this means you can publish your book as soon as resources permit.
How Does Self-Publishing Work?
Self-publishing means you’re going to be doing the work on your own. If you have a team, then that’s great, otherwise, you’ll need to coordinate with everyone else yourself. From acquiring an ISBN for your book to getting distributors, wholesalers and bookstores.
Self-publishing may sound like a lot of work compared to traditional publishing, but it has its perks.
- You get full rights and royalties to your book
- You have creative control over all aspects of your work
- You have control over the timeline
- You have control over marketing campaigns
- More profit for you
- You’re guaranteed to get published
- You have to make sure that the book you’re publishing is of high quality
- You have to exert more effort when it comes to publishing, selling and marketing your book
- There’s a lot of work and money involved, so you have to make sure to do it right the first time
How Does Traditional Publishing Work?
In traditional publishing, you submit your manuscript to a publishing house, wait for it to get accepted or approved, and then a team of professionals will take care of the rest. The publishing house will be in charge of book design, marketing, sales, publishing and other processes involved in making your book a success.
Traditional publishing is the more popular approach to getting your work out and distributing it to the masses but getting your book published will depend on the publishing house and there’s no guarantee that they’ll accept it.
You will need to send a letter to them with your manuscript and hope to get their attention for your book to get published.
Also, most publishing companies will not accept unsolicited manuscripts; others will have a short period in which acceptance of submissions are allowed.
There’s a reason traditional publishing is preferred by a number of famous authors. There are a number of benefits to traditional publishing and working with a publisher.
- You have an experienced team of people handling your work
- If you get published by a big publisher, you automatically get the validation and reputation of the publishing house
- The publisher will cover all costs associated with bringing your novel to the market
- You will have access to the publishing company’s resources
- Lower royalty percentage compared to self-publishing
- Harder to get a book deal
- No control over marketing
- Limited creative control when it comes to aspects concerning publishing
- You must grant the publisher rights
- Publishing contracts are complicated and tend to favor the publisher. It requires guidance from a lawyer to ensure that you’re not signing away your rights as the author for life.
Traditional or indie publishing, the important thing here is to publish quality work. It doesn’t matter if a major publishing house releases your book or if you’ve handled production independently. What matters is that the story you’re sharing with the world is going to be memorable, relevant and worthy of any reader’s time.