Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
In your quest for publishing information, you’ll likely find yourself asking one specific question: What’s the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing? These are the two main types of publishing, and there are very specific pros and cons for each.
Traditional publishing is when an author shops around his or her book to publishing companies to try to secure a publishing deal. If the author gets signed, the publishing company pays for the editing, book cover design, print copies, and publicity for the book in exchange for a percentage of the royalties. This percentage could range anywhere from 60-90%.
The plus side of a traditional publishing company is that the author has everything done for them, they pay no money out of pocket, and they are marketed to the publishing company’s readers. Nice, right? The downside is that typically authors only get paid 10-40% of the money their books make and the publishing company owns the cover, edits, and often the title. Also, any ISBNs and barcodes that appear on the author’s book belong to the publishing company as well.
So, long story short, in traditional publishing the author doesn’t really own their own work and they get less than half of the money their book makes. Even after the author makes the money back for what the publishing company paid for, they still take the same percentage of royalties forever. Forever, ever? Forever, ever! Even if the book hits the best sellers list or goes viral, the author will only see a fraction of the money it makes.
Self-publishing is the opposite of traditional publishing. The author pays for his or her own book, including editing, book cover design, ISBN, barcode, print copies and publicity, but they keep all money that the book makes. The author owns the book and can do anything they want with it. After the author makes back the money they put into it, everything else is profit.
The upside is that the author is in complete control, from start to finish, and they can choose how and where they want to distribute their book, including eBooks and print books. The downside is that the author pays for everything and the responsibility of marketing the book falls on the author. This might be daunting to some, but it is completely doable and many people have found great success self-publishing.
In a world that’s ruled by social media, much of your publicity and marketing can be very cheap, often even free. And once a book pays for itself, all of the profit belongs to the author. Yes, the author!! Self-published authors, often referred to as independent or indy authors, are doing things that have never been done before without the help of traditional publishers. They’ve been on the Amazon, USA Today, and New York Times bestseller lists. They do television, radio, and print interviews. They have large fan bases and huge social media followings.
Ultimately, you are in charge of the direction of your publishing journey. Obviously, I’ve chosen self-publishing and I’m dedicated to helping others in their self-publishing journeys. I truly believe in retaining creative control of my hard work, and I think you should too. If you have questions about publishing or want to get more information on the self-publishing journey, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.