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Understanding Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

It’s time to get real about publishing your book. Now that you have your shiny new manuscript in hand using all the tips you’ve learned so far, you’re probably wondering how to get it out into the world. Welcome to the “Publishing Smackdown”—Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing. Ding, ding!

Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

I’ve gone both routes, so I can speak first-hand about the benefits of both options. Like the superheroes of the comic world, each publishing method comes with its own special powers and Achilles’s heel.

Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing

Like anything, there will always be pros and cons, but also, what’s a pro for someone might be a con for you. So, consider your choices in publishing very carefully. Here’s what to expect from the traditional road.

Pros

  1. Credibility: Having a traditional publisher vouch for your work can add some serious street cred.
  2. Professional editing and design: You get to have professionals polish your work till it shines.
  3. Distribution: Traditional publishers have the power to get your book on shelves across the globe.

Cons

  1. Control: You may have to give up some creative control, including design decisions and sometimes content.
  2. Time: Traditional publishing can be slower than a tortoise with a hangover.
  3. Royalties: You typically receive a smaller cut of the book’s profits.

Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing

And here’s what to expect from the indie world.

Pro

  1. Control: You’re the boss, applesauce. You make all the decisions.
  2. Time: You set the timeline. If you want to publish next month, go for it!
  3. Royalties: You keep a larger portion of the profits.

Cons

  1. Self-motivation: You have to be your own cheerleader, taskmaster and coach. All. The. Time.
  2. Marketing and distribution: Getting your book noticed and distributed without a traditional publisher’s network is tough. But it can be done, with cold calls and approaching stores yourself.
  3. Upfront costs: You bear the cost of editing, design and marketing.

Where to Self-Publish

All book retailers have a self-service dashboard for authors once you create an account.

  • Amazon KDP
  • Kobo Writing Life
  • Barnes & Noble Press
  • Google Play
  • Apple iBooks

Then there are distributors where you can upload your book once, and they will make it available on all the retailers I listed above, plus libraries and other reading apps.

  • Smashwords
  • Draft2Digital

A Bit About Hybrid Publishing

Hybrid publishing—it’s like having your cake and eating it too. It’s where you have some books published traditionally and others self-published, combining both powers. But remember, balancing two different publishing methods can be a bit like juggling flaming torches.

This is the type of author I am. I have two books/series with different publishers; the rest of my backlist is indie. I love both avenues, the options they give me, etc. I enjoyed the process of writing without having to even think about the plethora of marketing tasks that would follow. But, at the same time, I truly love the 100% control that indie publishing gives me because I’m an admitted control freak.

How to Know Which Route Is Best for You

It all boils down to what you value most—control, time, potential earnings or maybe a blend of all three. Consider your skills, resources and long-term career goals. There’s no wrong answer here, just what feels right for you.

Whichever route you choose, remember it’s the journey that matters, and this journey is all about getting your fabulous work into the hands of readers.