Writing your First Book? - 5 Things to Know about Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing


Writers have more leeway with publishing options nowadays. As a writer, you have access to a myriad of resources for your publishing needs, some literally at the touch of your fingertips. If you know how to self-publish on Amazon Kindle, then you have yourself a self-published book ready to hit the shelves. However, as an author, publishing options can overwhelm, especially when weighing the pros and cons. Before committing to publishing your book, here are five things you should know about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. 


If you choose to go the self-publishing route, prepare to shell out some capital to publish and promote your book. Self-published authors should expect to invest in costs covering book editing, graphic design, and promotion, to name a few. The range of investment in self-publishing varies, with self-published authors reporting spending anywhere from $40 to up to thousands of dollars in the production process

With traditional publishing, they do not expect authors to shoulder any cost involved in book production. These costs should include expenses for publishing and marketing. As an author, be wary of publishing companies who ask for money up front to publish your book. Most of the time, these are vanity publishers. Many novice authors fall into the trap of these vanity publishers and end up losing a fair amount of capital in the long run. 


Even with the various resources made available for authors, self-publishing is still met with many scrutinies with prestige and reliability in many literary circles. Most self-published authors find they cannot qualify for many prestigious awards if they keep on choosing to self-publish. Although some academic bodies hand out awards to self-published authors, this is rare and far between. 

Authors who wish to be known in the literary world by garnering awards may find that traditional publishing is the way to go. Most of the time, academic awards are open only to books published through a traditional publisher. However, if critical acclaim is one of the driving factors of your work as an author, you may consider traditional publishing as the best option for you. 


With the availability of self-publishing sites, it will only take days for an author to publish a book. Once you finish your manuscript, self-publishing sites will have your book title available for sale just in a matter of days. Self-publishing makes it possible for authors to get their work to their target audience in the least amount of time possible. If you want results and you want them fast, then self-publishing can help you get there.  

With the tedious work involved in traditionally publishing a book, authors will need to work hand in hand with traditional publishers for months, even years later. This lengthy process is because traditional publishers have to take various steps to ensure that a book sells. Often, these processes involve many teams who have to work together. With traditional publishing, producing a book is slow, but as an author, they guarantee you will not have to go through it alone. 


Self-publishing enables the author to earn more per book sale. Some self-publishing sites give the author up to 70% royalty for book sales. Therefore, there is a higher earning potential for self-publishing sites. However, the capital needed to self-publish a book is also considerably higher. With this factor in mind, authors have to consider that they need to sell several books before making a profit. 

Traditional publishing enables authors to earn through royalties and advance against royalties. Authors and publishers have practiced this way of earning for as long as publishing has been around. A royalty is a percentage paid to the author for net or gross book sales. Royalties depend on many factors: the author, the type of book, the agreement between publisher and author. An advance against royalties means they paid an author a lump sum even before book sales kick-off. They include this sum in the computation of total royalties. An author, therefore, does not make any income from royalties until the entire book sales exceed that of the agreed-upon advance royalties. 


Self-publishing has made it possible for niche writers to find a market. Whereas it was previously very challenging to find a publisher who would invest in a niche topic, they have eradicated this problem for the niche writer with the rise of self-publishing sites. If your work as an author caters to a specific audience, self-publishing can provide a medium for you to reach your readers. 

Traditional publishing shies away from publishing niche books since it is not very cost effective. Niche markets are tiny and limited, and publishers are wary of publishing niche authors since the possibility of recouping expenses and earning a profit is very low. That is why niche authors may find it challenging to find a publisher who will work with them. Most publishing companies associate themselves with mainstream publishing and mass marketing books to the public. 


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