For many authors, deciding how to publish is a difficult decision. Should they go with a traditional publisher? Go it alone and become an indie author? Or publishing using a combination of the two?
Each route has its pros and cons, and with both routes authors do all their own marketing. Let’s examine the pros and cons of self publishing vs traditional publishing.
Pros of Traditional Publishing
- Distribution: Traditional publishing houses can distribute physical books to retailers worldwide. This generally translates into higher book sales.
- Prestige: There is certain level of prestige and respect that comes with being published. In addition, traditionally published books are the ones that win awards, become part of celebrity book clubs, and garner media attention.
Cons of Traditional Publishing
- Completive: The competition for an agent is fierce and very few authors achieve a publishing contract.
- Lack of Creative Control: Publishing houses decide the final form an manuscript will take and how the final product is marketed.
- Royalties: Traditionally published authors receive a smaller percentage of overall sales compared to indie authors. Advances for new authors are generally no more than $10,000.
- It’s Incredibly Slow: The entire process from query letter to publication takes two or more years to complete.
Pros of Self Publishing
- Creative Control: The author controls the selection of cover art, the naming of fictional characters and book distribution channels. She also controls how many revisions a manuscript will have, and whether or not it’ll have a sequel or a prequel.
- Maintain Rights: The author maintains all rights to her work and how it is used.
- Faster Process: The author determines when a book is ready for publication. The publication process itself takes 72 hours or less from the time an eBook or paperback file is upload till it appears on a retailer’s website. This allows authors to better take advantage of publication trends.
Cons of Self Publishing
- You’re a One Person Band: Indie authors wear many hats. They must be publisher, marketer, publicist, and social media manager. They also must hire editors, cover artists and others. This means, mistakes will be made and there will be a high learning curve.
- Less Books Sold: It is much more difficult to market a self published book, and on average indie author sell fewer books than their traditionally published counterparts.
- Financial Investment: Authors risk investing more money into their publishing business than they will earn back.
Why I’m an Indie Author
I selected the independent author route. Originally, it was not my first pick. Self publishing had a horrible stigma attached to it when I began writing professionally, and there weren’t the resources available to assist indie authors. I initially sought an agent for both Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs and Angel of Mercy. I self published both for three reasons.
I am a multi-genre author. Currently, I have published nine nonfiction books and three novels. I have three historical fiction novellas in the works (scheduled to publish in 2022) along with a contemporary fiction series (which will start publishing in 2022 or 2023). Agents and publishing houses usually want their clients to pick a genre and stick to it. I let inspiration dictate what I write.
My books are very niche. My nonfiction business books are specifically for women starting their first business. My nonfiction history books would only appeal to history buffs with an interest in the 1910s. My historical fiction features Canadian characters. Only my contemporary series will have wider audience appeal.
Finally, it’s been a learning experience. I’m learning new computer skills. I’m learning about marketing. More importantly, by writing in three genres, I am able to evaluate which genre readers enjoy the most before I pigeonholing myself into one genre.