Published: October 4, 2019
Are you having a difficult time deciding if self-publishing is right for you? At Luminare Press, we never discourage an author from trying to get a traditional publishing contract, but we know that these days such contracts are few and far between.
So why not self-publish? What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus shopping your book to literary agents and traditional publishing houses? To help, we put together this guide to a few considerations for either approach. Hopefully it will help make your decision just a little bit easier.
What are the pros of traditional publishing?
- Distribution, exposure, and marketing.
Should you land a traditional contract your book could have broader exposure than it might otherwise, since traditional publishers have a pipeline for getting books into bookstores and to book reviewers.
- Money up front
Traditional publishers will often give you an advance, or if your book is commissioned, a one-off payment.
- Help with editing, formatting, and cover art
A traditional publishing house takes care of editing, formatting, and cover art so you don’t have to.
What are the cons of traditional publishing?
- Loss of creative control
While editing, formatting, and cover art are often taken care of for you, this can also mean you, as an author, will have very little input into the final product. A publisher might even change the title of your book without consulting you.
- More money up front, less money later
Even if you’re lucky enough to score an advance or earn a one-time commission, you will earn out your advance through royalties, and rates with traditional publishers are much worse than what you’ll earn from self-publishing, averaging around 10 percent.
- Traditional publishing is very hard to break into
Despite your hard work and effort, it’s very difficult to make inroads into traditional publishing, meaning your book may never see the light of day.
What are the Pros of self-publishing
- More control
From cover art to book pricing, with self-publishing you maintain complete control.
- Immediate results
With traditional publishing it can take up to eighteen months to publish your book, with self-publishing your book can move a lot faster.
- Great royalty rates, and there are no gatekeepers
Self-publishing means you’ll earn more from royalties, and perhaps the biggest advantage to self-publishing is that there’s no asking for permission. The decision to publish is up to you.
What are the Cons of Self-publishing?
- It’s all up to you: that’s good and bad
From formatting to editing, all parts of the of publishing process are entirely up to you.
- Limited distribution and exposure
Setting up a book for proper distribution can be done, but most self-published authors don’t know enough to do it. And without the extra marketing muscle provided by a traditional publisher, it’s harder for your book to get in front of readers.
There is some stigma about self-published books, but as the market expands and more authors become aware of how to produce professional books, self-publishing will become more acceptable.
More than anything, the decision to self-publish is a personal decision that only you can make. One thing to remember is no matter what you choose, you can always change your mind later – about a book yet to be written, or even about the very same book.
There’s even a term for an author that chooses a mix of self-publishing and traditional publishing — they’re called “hybrid authors.” Could this approach be right for you? If you have a finished manuscript and you want to explore this possibility, schedule now a free consultation with our team to talk about your project.