What are the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing? Which option is best for you? While we can’t tell you whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is the way to go, we can describe the differences between them so you can decide for yourself.
With self-publishing, you write what you want to write. Unlike traditional publishing, which places a high value on what is currently “hot,” self-publishing gives you the freedom to tell your story, your way. A good self-publishing company can play a vital role in helping you produce a quality product. Which brings us to our next point.
Self-publishing offers creative freedom, but being the “boss” of your own work requires something in return — most importantly, a willingness to invest some money into your product. For example, you cannot skimp on vital elements like professional editing, formatting, and cover design if you want to experience success as an author. Ideally, the self-publishing company you choose will offer all-inclusive packages at a reasonable cost. Making this investment now will pay off later. As a wise publishing industry professional advises, “Your book is your product, not your baby.”
Be willing to invest in your product now in order to reap the rewards later. If your book looks good and reads well, you’ve created a strong foundation for success. It’s much easier to build relationships with your readers and earn good royalties with a high-quality product. Sure, it’s a financial investment. But it’s a small price to pay for the ability to take your work directly to your audience. And you avoid the long, drawn-out traditional publishing process of sending query letters, seeking literary agents, and dealing with rejection letters. Sounds like a win to us.
With self-publishing, it doesn’t matter if you’re an “unknown” author; with traditional publishing, being unknown is a liability. Even if your book falls into a hot genre, if you’re an unknown author, chances are a big publishing house won’t look at you twice. While this may sound harsh, it is reality. Because they assume the costs, traditional publishing companies need to predict a good return on their investment. If you’re a celebrity, athlete, politician or public figure, odds are your name and face alone will sell the book. From the traditional publishing company’s perspective, that justifies their up-front costs — along with the traditional publishing practice of taking a percentage of every book sale.
With self-publishing, you keep 100% of your royalties. While we can’t speak for every self-publishing company, many, including Writestream Publishing, do not take royalties from book sales. Once you make the initial investment in publishing services, that’s it. You keep 100% of your royalties and 100% ownership of your book. Traditional publishing companies often impose restrictive contracts aside from taking a high percentage of every book sold — and that’s after you’ve endured months/years/decades of submission and rejection.
Furthermore, while traditional publishing may provide marketing services, most of them now require their authors to take on much of the marketing burden. Why not invest in yourself and cut out the middle man? With the prominence of social media platforms, it’s easier than ever to find and connect with your readers. Yes, it takes focused, consistent action…but the rewards will far outweigh the effort.