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Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing – Pros and Cons

by | Jul 17, 2013 | Self Publishing | 2 comments


You’ve likely landed on this page because you’re weighing the pros and cons of self publishing vs traditional publishing. This article will share the differences between self publishing and traditional publishing. By having an understanding of what is required of both, you will be better informed on which option to pursue and learn how to get a book published via the avenue of your choice.


Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing – The Self Publishing Route

Self publishing allows a writer to have full control over their book. By handling the publishing of your own book, the author maintains control of all aspects of the decision making process. This includes decisions on final edits, the title of the book, and the book cover.

Self publishing is for all writers, both fiction and non-fiction and perfect for every genre. It covers both the print option and the digital book choices such as eBooks or Kindle and Nook versions.

Self publishing requires a lot more attention to detail, as you are responsible for the financial aspects of your book from the purchasing of the ISBN number to the printing of the books. I discuss this in greater detail in the article self publishing costs. However once you’ve recouped those initial costs, all remaining profit is yours.

Although a task too big for some, self publishing puts you in the driver seat of your career. You’ll find yourself wearing several hats, as self published authors are responsible for their own book distribution, book signings, interviews, book marketing and more!

If you’re leaning towards self publishing vs traditional publishing, there are numerous advantages to self publishing. I’ve discussed how I came to self publish in great length and admitted that even I had self publishing misconceptions. However, I quickly decided based on my goals as a writer and weighing the options of self publishing vs traditional publishing, that self publishing was the best fit for me.

Every author’s goals are not the same and there is no right or wrong where that is concerned. While one writer’s goal may be to get signed to a traditional publisher, another author’s goal may be to self publish. Or to self publish and later be picked up by a traditional publishing company. With numerous resources like social media, the publishing industry is understandably experiencing a shift. Self publishing is becoming the go-to option for writers.

I’m sure most of you can remember when that was the case for the music industry.

Things are different now! Artists are no longer waiting for record companies to sign them. They are simply taking matters into their own hands and producing and distributing their own music. And now the same is true with authors! Some writers are choosing not to wait for an agent to pick them up and then find a publisher. They are instead choosing to start the process themselves and have the publisher discover them once they’ve created a following and sold a generous amount of books.

However, with this shift comes over-saturation, which leads to poor quality books, poor editing, and bad graphic design. This is where a lot of the ridicule of self publishing comes in.

Self publishing has its benefits, but those same benefits put a great deal of pressure on the writer to not only write, but to create and sell books that can compete in the marketplace. If being a salesman is a role that is uncomfortable for you, then the traditional publishing route may be a better option for you.


Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

 – The Traditional Publishing Route

Although the tide is definitely changing, traditional publishing companies has long been favored. I don’t think anyone can argue the advantages to signing with traditional book publishers. For starters, the author is backed by a big named book publisher, which lends to the author’s credibility amongst the masses. Distribution of the author’s books through online retailers, bookstores and libraries provides easy access for the consumer.

While a traditional publisher may choose to limit creative control of the author, their expertise as a book publishing company usually lends to them having the bulk of the control. Their years of experience in the publishing industry will help to propel a writer’s book into the spotlight, which usually results in best sellers or at the least a great deal of sales. Traditional publishing is a great option for authors looking to align themselves with a book publishing company with a proven track record.

A traditional publisher fronts all of the costs for the publishing of your book. In return they take a percentage of your book sales. For authors who aren’t looking to spend upfront money, traditional publishing is a great route.

Traditional publishers also handle the day to day business as it relates to your book. That would include book signings, radio and television interviews, and any promotional tours in support of your book.

Still weighing the option of self publishing vs traditional publishing?

Well it’s up to you and greatly depends on how much control you want over your book.

But remember…whether you’re signed to a traditional publisher or choose to self publish, your writing career is still your responsibility. You still have to know how to market a book yourself.

Self publishing vs traditional publishing, which way do you choose? Please share in the comment section below.

NEXT: Self Publishing Misconceptions


  1. FLora M

    Self-publishing has not been very popular with writers in the past, but contrary to the implications of this fact there are plenty of benefits to it.

    • Stefanie

      Very true. I definitely think the tide is changing.