Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Which Is Better?

This question was the very first question amongst the authors who wanted to publish their books. But that’s a thing of the past. More than 90% of the authors are now clear that they want to self-publish their books. It’s only a little percentage of the author’s who still get caught in this question of whether to choose the traditional publishing or Self-Publishing. Making this choice is not very simple as it depends on numerous factors.

I will try to explain the difference between the two here in a very organized manner. I am sure this will help you gather a simple answer to your complex doubt about choosing one of either “Traditional publishing or Self-Publishing”.

  1. Investment: With traditional publishers, there is no initial investment needed by the author, indeed usually you get some advance against royalties. But with Self-Publishing, authors need to plan with an advance budget to self publish their book and bring in the market for sale. They need to plan on investing in professional Editing service, Illustrations, Cover Design, Book inside Design and planned Book marketing. For a self published author, its very important to invest in a good creative team who would make your book professionally designed.
  2. Royalty Rates: With traditional publishing, you do get an initial advance but that too is a part of your royalty only. The royalty rate with traditional publishers is only 6% to 20% of your book sale and that too will start after your advance has been fulfilled. Whereas with Self-Publishing, you get a 70% of the royalty when you put your book on amazon for sale. That’s a lot of difference the royalty price. But selling books is not that simple. You may need to research more on the marketing tools for your book promotion or may seek professional help for this service.
  3. Print Distribution: The traditional publishers have a better edge at marketing and making your book reach the book shelves at local book stores and libraries. But with the internet, its best to capitalize the worldwide reader population. You do need more than just physical distribution of the books. And with self-publishing, you get to know each step of your book making process, and this way you understand the online distribution of your book better. Its normally print on demand and reaching a physical bookstore will not be that easy, unless you visit, create personal network etc. But your book will still be available on all major online book stores reaching a world wide audience.
  4. Creative Control: I have seen traditional published authors, who are definitely talented with loads of creativity but they seem frustrated with the extra interference from traditional authors over the manuscript, story title, kind of illustrations, design, and even the book price and Book promotion methods they intend for the book. They are not just made to change the words but at times also change the story lines, the climax as per the Publisher’s preference. Whereas with Self-Publishing, you are the boss. You have the complete freedom to write the story, selection of words, time to publish, kind of illustrations you want. You actively participate in each step of the book publishing. You need to either learn these all yourself or better get a professional help with experts of self-publishing. There is much more learning in this process and quite a feeling of authority and empowerment.
  5. Process Speed: Traditional publishing is quite a slow process. Getting your story selected by agents and then publishers itself will take more than a year. It can go up to 2 years or it can be a never ending/rejection/alteration cycle of your story. And even after your story is selected by the author, it will take a long time before they finalize the text and then design all the other aspects of the book. The publication time if also at publisher’s discretion. Whereas if you have a story ready, it can be completely compiled by a good self publishing agencies in 2-3 months, and your book will be available in next 24-72 hours on amazon. Isn’t that the best you can have.
  6. Copyright: With traditional publishing, the book copyright belongs to the publisher. Whereas, with self-publishing you own the complete copyright which means you can sell your book in any format in any country any time without any permission etc. You can sell your characters to any movie, animation, school for any purpose. You can edit your book even after publishing it once and then republish it. It’s a complete free world of self-publishing.
  7. With traditional publishing, many authors do get a feeling of validation, or approval that their work is selected and they are a good published write, no matter if their book sell well or not. Although if you self publish your book, and it is really well made and you are able to sell lots of copies, there are chances that your book catches the attention of publishers and literary agents. There are lot of examples of books which were self published, and later became a movie.

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