It’s an amazing time to be an author. With the advent of eBooks and print-on-demand services, the days of requiring a book deal with a big name publisher are in the past, giving aspiring authors more options than ever before to release their manuscript.
This isn’t to say book publishers are going away anytime soon. While the idea of maintaining more control over your book may seem tempting, there are still a lot of benefits to having your book published using using the traditional route which may not be available to you as a self publisher.
Because of this, making the decision between using a book publisher and self publishing can be difficult for many aspiring authors. Personally, I decided to self publish, but before I explain why, let’s break down the pros and cons of both methods.
Traditional Publishing Benefits
To start, they’ve been doing this for a really long time and exactly how to get your book into the hands of potential readers. They have working relationships with big book stores like Barnes & Noble and have the capital to print your book in large quantities to be put on display around the country.
They want you to success
A publisher is a business and just like any other business, the publisher is this business to make money. This means they’re not going to invest the time and money on your manuscript and not work as hard as they can to sell as many books as possible. This doesn’t mean your book will instantly be a success (or a success at all), but you can rest assured they’re going to do their best to make sure that isn’t the case.
Reviews and awards
Using a traditional publisher can also get you access to reviews from coveted book reviewers, like those at the New York Times and open your manuscript to prestigious annual awards. Above all else, getting your story published using a traditional publisher gives you a great sense of accomplishment that this company is willing to invest its time and money in you.
All of that sounds pretty enticing, right? Before you close this article, determined to use a traditional publisher, let’s take a look at the benefits of releasing your manuscript using the self publishing method.
Self Publishing Benefits
The thought of taking on this journey alone (you’re never really alone, there’s a great community of self publishing authors who have your back) can be intimidating, but choosing to self publish has many benefits you won’t get from a traditional publisher.
Be your own boss
Many self publishers choose to do so because of the freedom of being their own boss. Everything from choosing your release date, cover art, and title are all things you have absolute control over. You also don’t have to worry about missing deadlines because you set the schedule.
You have control
When you use a traditional publisher, you have input on things like the cover art and title of your story, but the ultimate decision on those come down to the publisher and what they think will help your story sell. The best part? No one can tell you no! You can release the story you want to tell and not worry about a hundred different editors inserting their five-cents into how to make your story better.
You keep more profit
One of the nicest things about being a self published author is you get to keep more of the profits from your sales. This makes sense since the traditional publisher needs more of the profit to recoup the money they invested for printing and marketing.
Traditional Publishing Pitfalls
As mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of benefits to choosing a traditional publisher. Unfortunately, there are also several reasons why many authors shy away from this method of publication.
It takes time
The truth is, many manuscripts which are sent to publishers are denied. This denial can be for any number of reasons, but nothing is more soul-crushing than spending all that time and effort into a story only to be told no. This is why it’s important to make sure your manuscript is perfect before submitting it by hiring a good editor and finding the right literary agent. Needless to say, it can take years for your story to go from manuscript to published.
Lack of Control
As soon as you sign your contract with the publisher, you’ll be rewarded with a check you can take straight to the bank. Unfortunately, when you sign your contract you’re also giving up a significant amount of control you have over the story you’ve spent anywhere from a few months to a few years writing. Editors may rip the story apart and rebuild it into something completely unrecognizable. Did you like your title? Sorry, that may be changed, too. The cover art you personally spent six weeks creating? Yup, it might be on the chopping block, too. It’s a lot of creative freedom to surrender.
Self Publishing Pitfalls
As mentioned previously, if you decide to self publish, you’ll retain 100% of the creative freedom to release your story exactly how you intended it. Unfortunately, all that freedom comes at a price.
You’re on this adventure alone
Okay, you’re never completely alone. Hop on the social media platform of your choice and you’ll find a plethora of groups dedicated to helping authors succeed. But, at the end of the day, none of the digital cheerleaders can push the proverbial big red button to send your story out into the wild for all to see. That, is something you have to do all by yourself and every misspelling, grammar error, and formatting issue is completely on you. No pressure!
Money, money, money
We’ve already discussed how you’ll keep more money from each sale if you self publish. But, have you thought about why you make more? No, the publishing houses aren’t greedy, they’re a business and like every other business, they’re trying to make money and they need to recoup the money they’ve invested in printing and marketing. On the flip side to this, if you self publish, you don’t have the benefit of a large organization with resources to effectively market and sell your book. What does that mean? You guessed it! If you want to create effective awareness around your book, you’re going to need to invest money into marketing campaigns.
The decision to publish your book using a traditional publisher or as a self publisher is up to you. But know, whichever route you choose, you should be proud you’ve come this far. Writing a book, regardless of the genre or how financially successful it becomes is no easy feat. Well done!
Why did I choose to self publish?
I don’t have a lot of money (yet … hopefully) but publishing my book was never about making millions of dollars – although that would be nice! For me, self publishing is a challenge and I’ll never turn down a good challenge.
I also have an advantage I don’t think a lot of other authors have, a background in marketing. I first self-taught myself marketing skills in the Army, where I served as a public affairs specialist. I would later use these skills in the civilian marketplace and eventually earned the title of Director of Marketing.
I’m hoping to use these skills to become a financially successful author. Through these blogs, I’m hoping to share my experiences along this journey in hopes it will help other authors become successful, too!