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Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing?

That is the question.

Like most authors, I face an interesting decision. Do I self-publish my book or publish it “traditionally” through a publishing house? There are pros and cons to both. In my mind, the pros of self-publishing outweigh the pros of publishing the traditional way.


With self-publishing, you make more for each book you sell. Your “royalties” are significantly higher then when you publish through a publishing house, where your royalties can be as meager as 8 to 10 percent. You also have complete control over the cover art and own all the rights to your book, minus the ISBN number.

There are downsides to self-publishing as well. Distribution can be limited as most chains (i.e. Barnes & Noble) don’t except self-published books. In addition, most book reviewers won’t review a self-published book. Also, if you self-publish, you take on all the work yourself. You not only are the author, but also become the publisher and salesman. It can be a lot like running a small business.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing, to be honest, is the dream of almost any author, including me. Who doesn’t want to be published by a big name like Random House? It will raise your prestige and your credibility as an “expert” increases immediately. National and international distribution can come calling. Typically, you also have a sales force and people from the company promoting your book for you. Here’s a big one: the printing costs are on the publisher.

Downsides? It can take dozens, even hundreds of lengthy proposal letters before your manuscript is accepted at a traditional publishing company. You will make pennies on the books you sell. Royalties can be outrageously low.  If your book is accepted for publishing, it can take one to two years before they actually beginning printing it. You have little to no control over the cover art and title. The editor can insist on edits you do not agree with. You will own the copyright, but practically nothing else.


I’m definitely leaning towards self-publishing. And I will not be alone. Through self-publishing sites such as LuLu and CreateSpace, reaching Amazon.com and the shelves of Barnes & Noble will be possible. Through those sites you can POD (Print On Demand) and have total control over your book and sales. And who knows? Maybe the book will fall into the hands of a big name publisher and, impressed, they may offer you the contract of your dreams. With the book already in circulation, you will be able to deal with the publisher at a higher level. You don’t have to let them own you. That is basically what happened to New York Times best seller Christopher Paolini and his Inheritance Series.

So, I believe self-publishing is the place to begin. What do you guys thinks?


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