Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

Old School Publishing vs Self-Publishing-That is the Question!

By Deborah S. Nelson

Traditional Publishing vs self publishing–that is the question. With publishing likely to be the last industry to “go digital”; we have the same debate photography  music, travel and other online industries have experienced.

Traditional publishing vs self-publishing

Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing

Traditional Publishing


Self-Publishing

No more film, darkroom, negatives, and four-color separations. Photography has eliminated expensive and time-consuming processes and has gone digital. Now with the use of the digital printing press, book publishing has eliminated plates, four-color separations, printing presses and large print runs. Traditional publishing printing presses are expensive to run. With one book so expensive, an average of 10,000 books needs to be printed to make it cost-effective. This also means that thousands of books need to sell before a publishing company makes a profit. This makes it necessary for an author to publicize their book on radio, television and print, to stimulate the number of sales needed. To publish through a traditional publishing company, the publisher will want to know that an author will sell at least 10,000 books. More likely they would expect sales of 100,000 books or more. Therefore, when selecting books, publishing houses are careful to select authors they know will sell enough books to cover overhead. Many publishing companies these days are selecting authors already celebrities for the mass sales needed.

Self-Publishing is Synonymous with Digital Publishing–Video Explains Digital Publishing

Digital publishing is so affordable that most people who can read, write, and use a computer can prepare a book file for printing. Difficulties include understanding the self-publishing process which makes the writer the publisher. The self-publisher is responsible for cover design, printer choice, editorial functions, back cover copy, author bio, head shots, photography and images, interior layout and design, copyright, publicity, marketing and sales. These areas require specialized training and are often hired out using professional sub-contractors. The video gives an overview of publishing vs self publishing. Use the Publishing SOLO self publishing checklist for the best grasp of the basic steps needed to publish your own book.

Pros and Cons of Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

Traditional Publishing Pros

  • You are not involved with the publishing process.
  • Credibility associated with an established publishing house
  • Friends and family will be impressed you signed with a publishing co.
  • You will be given an advance of several thousand dollars for your book.
  • A publishing house is responsible for marketing, distribution and sales of your books.

Traditional Publishing Cons

  • Your creativity is limited; they have the final say on these matters.
  • Royalties average .10-.75 per book;  This may barely cover the advance given.
  • You do not own all your copyrights; these are shared with the publisher.
  • They may not market your book very well, especially if you are not a celebrity author.
  • It likely takes years to get your manuscript accepted by a publisher and years to publish it.

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Self-Publishing Cons

  • Being your own publisher is hard work and requires a learning curve.
  • You will incur publishing expenses, such as the book cover design, printing, etc.
  • Distribution, marketing and sales will fall 100% on your shoulders.
  • The book quality may not be as good as traditional publishers.
  • The perfectionism of self-publisher could cause the book project to derail.

Self-Publishing Pros

  • You own all your copyrights forever.
  • Your royalties will be $4-$10 per book.
  • You have maximum creativity.
  • It is fast! Publish a book in three to six months.
  • You may give workshops and start speaking right away.

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