Monday, December 17, 2018

Which is Best Traditional or Self-Publishing?


Once your book has been completed the next step is getting it published.  You have two choices available, the traditional publishing route which requires an agent, and a publishing house willing to  publish your book.  Or the self-publishing route, which requires all of the work to be done by yourself.

These days the book market is full of both traditionally published and self-published authors.  The avenue you decide to go down is in your own hands.

The Main Differences Between Traditional and Self-Publishing

Traditional Publishing

  • Your intellectual property rights are bought by a publishing house such as Penguin, Random House, Macmillan etc.
  • A literary agent is required to arrange the sale of your books rights.
  • The publishing house will use their own contacts to make sure your book is sold in as many bookstores as possible.
  • Usually your book will be made in print.
  • You have a better chance of being reviewed by newspapers and magazines.
  • You'll get an advance before your book is published.
  • If your book earns more than your advance you may receive royalties for the extra books sold.
  • You have no rights over your book because it belongs to the book publisher.

  • The book rights belong to you.
  • You'll never receive an advance in self-publishing.
  • Most of your sales will come from your ebooks.
  • Your books won't be sold in physical bookstores worldwide.
  • You're not likely to be reviewed by a newspaper or magazine.
  • The responsibility of book creation, production and marketing rests on your shoulders.

What is Traditional Publishing?

Authors are offered a contract by a traditional publishing house, they then take your book and sell it through various booksellers and retailers.  Essentially they buy the rights to publish your book and in turn pay you royalties from each sale of your book. 

  1. Nonfiction writers are required to submit a book proposal, along with sample chapters, and a synopsis of each chapter.
  2. Fiction writers are expected to send in an entire manuscript.
  3. You hand over your book rights to the publishing house.
  4. Your publisher will give you an advance and then sell your book.

What is Self-Publishing?

There are various ways to self-publish your book these include: print-on-demand, vanity, subsidy, and self-publishing.

(POD) Print-on-demand - Anyone willing to pay is published.  POD uses up-to-date printing technology to produce books at a cost effective price.  Books are published as individual orders come in.  This means the printer can adjust to the book's supply to meet the reader's demand.  You make money from the royalties sold.

Extra costs such as editing, proofreading and marketing are paid for at an additional cost to the writer.  This way of publishing cuts back on space and any unsold copies.

Vanity publisher - Available for anyone willing to pay for their book to be published.  Your books is bound and printed, and you receive all the royalties from books sold.

Subsidy publisher - Not unlike vanity publishing, the subsidy publisher contributes towards the editing, distribution, marketing and warehousing.  The publisher owns the book until they are sold and the author starts making royalties.

Self-publishing - You find a platform such as Amazon who will self-publish your book, it's left to you to market it.

So What's the Difference?

There is no expense to the author with traditional publishing that is all handed by the chosen company.

With self-publishing depending upon the publishing platform you choose, you pay all of the expenses.  The biggest advantage with self-publishing is that you're in the drivers seat and you have full control over your book.

Who Makes More Money, the Traditionally Published Author or Self-Published Author?

If you take Amazon as an example, the self-published author sells $100 worth of books.  Amazon pays them $70, with no deductions, paid monthly.

The traditionally published author sells $100 of books, Amazon keeps it's $30 share.  The publisher receives $75 passes the 25% * $70 = $17.50 to the author's agent.

Author's agent keeps 15% contractual amount and passes the rest of the balance, which is 85% * $17.50 = $14.88 to the author.

The author only makes $14.88 from $100 of sales.

Would Your Book Ever be Published By a Traditional Book Publisher?

Literary agents receive about 2,000 book submissions a year, of those submissions only about 2 or 3 authors are chosen.

Even if you do get taken on by a literary agent, your book may be passed onto a even smaller publisher with zero funds to spend on your book, or marketing. 

What to do next

Both avenues require work, traditional publishing requires time to have your book picked up by a publishing house. Self-publishing puts the ball in your court, and leaves the entire process in your own hands.

In the end it's your decision!
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  1. Thank you for the post, Helen. Most interesting. I believe firmly that it is essential for an author to be confident in their work. If choosing to self publish then they will not be slow in coming forward. I truly do believe that the day of the agent and publisher are numbered. Even the shy can give a percentage of sales to an internet savvy individual who will quite easily sow our work into the worldwide web. Times have changed. Things are different. Myself, I publish on Amazon and a family friend sells for me on a rising scale as an incentive. It always surprises me as to who the books may reach. I am very fortunate as a producer with Netflix contacted me over my first book, A Golden Harvest. Nothing has come of it as yet but never the less, it does show just how far our books may travel. I wish success and prosperity Helen. Thank you for listening.

    1. Thank you for your comment. You're right the book publilshing world has changed, and more freedom has been given to the writer as to which publishing route they want to take, and how author's can market their books.


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