In honor of Labor Day I decided to do some research into traditional versus self-publishing. The question is constantly coming up as I enjoy the guest authors that I have interviewed for this site. So far, self-publishing is by far the most popular.
At first, I imagined it was because of how difficult it is to get through the slush pile. But the more I learn, the more I realize there is much more than that to consider. There are some strong points that make self-publishing very attractive. So attractive in fact, that some authors have even turned away from traditional publishing to pursue self-publishing.
Here are my thoughts on why:
- Less people are involved in the process, meaning more profit can go to the author.
Traditional: 6-15% to the author
Self: 35% up to a whopping 70% to the author – 35% will be more common and give you freedoms that a larger royalty will not
There is a lot of fine print associated with those numbers, but you can get the general idea. If you can market your work well, which you will need to do regardless of which route you take, self-publishing may be more profitable.
- Self-Publishing is fast. From acceptance – to the publisher – to on the shelf, is an average of one to two years, assuming there are no hiccups. Self-publishing is on your own time-table. Book is edited, formatted, and ready to go with a cover? Hit the button. This a very attractive bit of self-publishing that many authors appreciate. Although I am sure many impatient authors make the mistake of hitting the publish button too soon, and the result is an unfinished product that gathers dust in the corner.
- Control is given to the author. I find this one very important. When considering a publisher, the author has little to no choice in the cover, marketing process, giveaways, and sometimes even the book sub-plots. How much will a publisher force you to revise your work to match marketing statistics or make sure we’re all politically correct? Self-publishing means you don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. But beware, with great power comes great responsibility. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself there.)
All in all, there is a lot to consider for which route is best for you. There are many award-winning authors that have started out by self-publishing, and eventually signed million dollar contracts with publishers after their wild success. (For example, Andy Weir who wrote The Martian, now a Twentieth Century Fox Motion Picture.) Of course, very few make it this big. Keep your expectations realistic.
On the flip-side, traditional publishing has a sense of “hitting it big”, though do not confuse that with big money. It means you are pre-vetted and approved by the “big-boys”. Even though it could be argued that even self-published works are separated by hefty reviews and best-seller spotlights, there’s a sense of accomplishment, recognition and success attributed to becoming published by a big name. But depending on your goals, that may or may not matter to you.
All authors need to sit back and really consider which route that works best for them. Times are changing, and it is becoming easier to be an Indie-Author than it ever has before.