Self-publishing and traditional publishing have their strengths and weaknesses and both forms of publishing are valid. So how and why are they different? The answer is incredibly complex.
The key difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing is how the author receives royalties:
- If the author owns the rights and royalties, then the book is self-published
- If the publisher owns the rights and royalties, then the book is traditionally published
Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing
There are more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to self-publishing. One of the top reasons is that the author has complete control of the rights and royalties and they are also able to customize their books and they also have control of marketing and other promotional materials. The downside is that all this work is down to the author and there are many learning curves when it comes to hiring professionals to help edit your book and getting the book noticed out in the public.
- Self-published authors have the rights and royalties, and they have more creative and marketing control than traditionally published authors
- Self-published authors are able to customize their book and even make needed changes after the book is published
- No gatekeepers to deal with, as the self-published author has more control
- Self-published books have higher profit potential
- The self-published author can do niche books, or genres that most publishers don’t often publish
- The self-published author is responsible for the book being good in all aspects
- Incredibly time-consuming to manage material
- It is expensive to hire professionals to edit and make art for the book
- It takes a lot of time and money to get the book(s) right
Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing
For some authors, being traditionally published is satisfying and validating. However, it is extremely difficult to get a book deal as only 1% of the book proposals are accepted. Still, the advantages include a monetary advance prior to publishing and that there is a chance for higher media coverage.
- Monetary advances prior to publishing (with no up-front cost) are available
- Publisher invests money to publish the book to help ensure professionalism
- High potential of media coverage
- High chance of print distribution in bookstores
- For some authors, it is a sign of validation
- Almost impossible to get a publishing deal
- A lot of time is spent, as the traditional publishing process is complex
- Slower to market than self-publishing
- No ownership of manuscript rights, no marketing control, no creative control
- Limited financial upside
- Does not deal in niche books
Regardless of which route you choose, each style of publishing has its own pros and cons. If you want status and validation, then traditional publishing is your route. But if you value freedom, control, and independence of your work and are willing to put in the time, effort, and money to create, self-publish, and market a book, then self-publishing is the ideal choice.
The most important part is getting your book out into the world.