What’s the Best Choice-Traditional or Self-Publishing?
Through my daily intake of emails and speaking to new authors, I must ask questions to serve my potential clients better.
I use a questionnaire to get to know more about the author before we speak. And I use the questionnaire as a guideline in understanding the needs of the potential new author.
One of the main questions I ask is…
“What route do you want to go with your book?” “Traditional or Self-publishing?”
I’m never surprised when the first answer is traditional publishing but no matter the answer, this leads us to the large fork in the road.
What is the best choice for you and your book?
Both avenues involve specific aspects that must be thoroughly examined. Understanding which path you want to take your book is essential before you begin the process. This is the step that cannot be sidestepped or taken lightly because of your book’s life and success depend on it. The direction you determine will affect your book and sets the tone for the strategy of the book in going to the market right out of the gate.
Writing a book isn’t any different from anything else in your life. Every day of your life, there is the need to plan and strategize where you want to go. Your book is the same because without planning your book will be lost at sea.
Now, I understand that most new authors dream of going the traditional route, get a book deal, and make millions. Then others want to get their work out and publish it to the world through self-publishing. There isn’t anything wrong with either, but a new author must understand both avenues thoroughly before deciding which path is best for them.
Let’s dive in and look at both to help you figure out which is best for you:
Traditional publishing is a whole new world for you as a new author. Compared to self-publishing, the notoriety of getting traditional publishing is high and prestigious. However, it takes a long time, perseverance, and skill to get the attention of major publishers. Plus, most publishers won’t take unsolicited manuscripts and only accept book proposals from literary agents. Learning how to write query letters and book proposals is a must to attract the attention of a literary agent.
With traditional publishing, they will expose your book through their existing distribution and marketing channels. Book buyers will buy your book for the different stores, outlets, and independent chains. Your book then gains shelf space and is exposed to consumers. As a new author, the publisher tows the line and pushes your book to the masses alleviating you having to do the tedious work of marketing your book. For this work, the publisher will take a larger cut of the royalty but you get massive market saturation of your book and sales.
Less Control of the Process
Let’s say you have done all the upfront work and acquired an agent and you sell your book to a major publisher. Once your book is accepted for publication, they will assign you a specific editor who will guide you through the process. Within that process, there are editorial decisions, revisions, changes in the narrative that will be asked of you. This process takes time and an immense amount of hard work. However, this process is necessary to make a marketable manuscript. So, settle in and get ready to work but understand all of this can make your book take longer to hit the market and be published. Much like a rock-and-roll band—with traditional publishing—there isn’t such a thing as an overnight success.
If you are an author who is ready to get the word out and feel compelled to get your story out to the world, then self-publishing could be your ticket. Yet, here are the challenges you must address.
One of the main obstacles is—money. It doesn’t take a ton of money to self publish but it costs if you do it right. Everything from professional editors to professional book designers is necessary to make a book marketable. With traditional publishing, these things do not cost you anything and, in most instances, affords you an advance and royalties. The publisher recoups their money in the back end.
Self-publishing is the fast lane to getting your work published but the money, publicity and the marketing of the book must come from you. Money is better with self-publishing because most traditional publishers take more and give a less than royalty because of their initial investment in your book. This is the failsafe to generate sales and have a return on their investment. With self-publishing, the lion’s share of the royalties goes to you. There are multiple places to self-publish and go wide with your book. Sites like Amazon or Draft2digital offer massive online distribution, high royalty rates, and have global exposure for your book. Although, this sounds good, know it will still take a hell of a lot of work promoting your book to make money—or make a living. However, the good news is you oversee everything and have the final say on the book cover design, editing, distribution unlike traditional publishing—plus make more money.
Publicity and Marketing
Once you publish your book, it will be up to you to begin the promotion and reach out, spreading the word on your book. You will need to build a platform for potential readers. You can achieve this through the use of social media. A platform is another necessary evil and must be completed for both traditional and self-publishing avenues. Be aware this takes up vast amounts of time, energy and—money. As a writer, your time is something you can’t waste. Marketing your book will take away your valuable writing time if you plan on publishing more works in the future. This is something to seriously consider.
To market your book, you will need a marketing strategy and plan. Marketing your book is an essential part of self-publishing because if not done, no one will know your book is out there. This defeats the entire purpose of writing a book. There isn’t anything wrong with self-publishing as many authors across the world have published on their own and significantly been successful. Just do your due diligence and be prepared to work hard to get your book out into the world. My goal is to make you aware of the challenges with both platforms to help you make the best decision for your book.
Whichever path you choose, the great thing is you are writing a book and have moved past the dream stage. Now, the next step is to get your book written— and show the world your stuff.