Should I Self Publish or Traditionally PublishThis is an exciting world for today’s authors.

It’s no longer a requirement that we send out our manuscripts out to dozens of publishing houses and literary agents, waiting for a response and hoping that one of them actually sees our potential. Instead, we can take control of our book’s success by self-publishing.

But, despite the relative ease of today’s indy-publishing options, many new and experienced authors are still choosing to pursue traditional publishing for their books.

So, which option is right for you?

I’ve faced this same decision. As I’ve talked about in other posts, before I got a book deal, I’d planned to self-publish my first book. My plans changed, but I still intend to make self-publishing an important part of my strategy.

So, what’s the deal with self-publishing?

Self-publishing platforms, like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, empower authors to take their books directly to the readers, without having to wait for a publishing house to read and accept their work.

But, if it’s so easy, why do so many new authors fail to sell their books? And why are many authors still going the traditional route?

To borrow from a phrase I’ve heard: self-publishing is simple, but it ain’t easy.

Self-publishing Pros:

  • Speed. No time wasted trying to get a book deal. You can publish your book whenever you’re ready.
  • Higher royalty rates. 70% on Amazon Kindle as opposed to 7-15% with a traditional publishing deal.
  • Control. You’ll retain complete control over your books and your career.

Self-publishing Cons:

  • Competition. These platforms are flooded with books, all vying for a reader’s attention. It’s very difficult to stand out from the rest.
  • Marketing. You will have to do all of your own marketing, requiring a lot of time and research in order to make your book a success.
  • Cost. You’ll most likely want to hire an editor, proofreader, cover designer, etc. The expense can really add up.
  • Difficulty. Most ebooks average less than $100 in sales in their lifetime.

What about traditional publishing?

I was fortunate to find Glass House Press. I can’t think of anything more validating than sending off my manuscript and receiving the approval of a legitimate publishing house.

I ended up signing a book deal, but I could just as easily have wasted months or years of my life querying agents and publishers, and never finding a buyer for my book. The process can be very lengthy, and in the end, there are no guarantees.

Traditional Publishing Pros:

  • Distribution. Publishing houses are able to get your book into stores like Barnes & Noble, offering greater reach.
  • Legitimacy. With low-quality ebooks being churned out constantly, readers have a greater trust for traditionally published books.
  • Some help marketing. Your publisher will have a vested interest in your book. They want you to sell copies so they can make more money, and will generally offer some assistance in marketing the book.

Traditional Publishing Cons:

  • Time. It can take months or even years to get a book deal, and once the ink dries, that book won’t hit the selves for another year or more.
  • Uncertainty. There’s no guarantee that you will ever sell your manuscript. And even if you do, there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever sell another one.
  • Lower royalties. With smaller royalties and often disappointing sales numbers, most traditionally published authors are unable to earn enough from their books to support themselves.
  • Marketing. Yes, even traditionally published authors have to market their books. The amount of effort your publisher puts into marketing your book will vary, but it is always the author’s responsibility to market their own work.

So, which is the better option?

That’s not an easy question to answer.

You might be leaning towards one or the other, but the truth is that many authors today are becoming “hybrid authors,” who publish both on self-publishing platforms and traditionally. In this way, they’re able to benefit from the advantages of both.

They’re self-publishing books quickly, building a following that makes them more attractive publishers. Or they’re building off an existing traditional readership, taking their books directly to the public for higher royalties and greater control. These are excellent strategies for building a diverse and thriving author career.

What are your thoughts about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing? Which path will you take in publishing your books? Let me know in the comments below, or join the conversation on Facebook.


Author Guidebook offers a single, comfortable space for authors to learn about both traditional and self publishing.