Self Publishing Vs Traditional Publishing: Which is Best?

For most of the 20th century, traditional publishing was the only option for many authors. While the technology existed for self-publishing, it proved prohibitively expensive for most people.

The rapid technological development since 2000 changed the game completely. Amazon now offers a stable platform for self-publishing ebooks and print editions through its KDP select program. Authors can also take advantage of print on demandtechnology for short-run printing of physical editions.

With all these changes in the industry, it begs the question: Is self-publishing or traditional publishing best? Let’s jump in and take a closer look at the two options.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing typically means an author places a book with one of the Big 5 publishers:

  • Hachette
  • HarperCollins
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Penguin Random House
  • Macmillan

Of course, that makes it sound simple. It’s not.

The vast majority of titles the Big 5 publish come through author agents who champion the book with an editor. The editor then champions the book with the publisher, which offers a contract.

That means traditional publishing requires an author to secure an agent. While not as difficult as directly selling a book to a publisher, securing an agent is often a monumental task for new authors.

Traditional Publishing Benefits

If you can secure a contract with a traditional publisher, it does come with some benefits. The publisher handles a wide range of tasks.

For example, the publisher handles proofreading, formatting, distribution, and even some marketing. The author’s main job during the process is revisions based on the editor’s notes and promoting the book.

Self Publishing

Self-publishing happens when an author takes on all of the duties of the publisher. The author does face certain limits in terms of distribution. Most major bookstores won’t carry self-published titles.

That means the author must select from a small number of distribution channels, such as:

  • Amazon
  • iBooks
  • Kobo
  • BookBaby
  • Smashwords

Some authors opt for exclusive distribution of their ebooks on Amazon through its KDP Select program.

Self Publishing Benefits

Self-publishing does offer some benefits as well. For one, the author retains substantially more control. The book will only change as much as the author lets it change during editing.

The self-publishing process moves much faster. Once you finish editing the book, you can publish it almost immediately in ebook form. You can also order print editions immediately.

You might wait a year or more for a traditional publisher to print your book.

Which is Best?

The question of whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is best doesn’t offer simple answers.

Traditional publishing offers very long odds of success for new authors. It’s an energy-sapping and time-consuming process to get an agent. Even if you get an agent, it’s no promise of publication.

If you despise managing details and self-promotion, self-publishing will prove an exercise in misery. 

Self-publishing is the best route if you relish control and want a guarantee of publication.

InstantPublisher.com helps authors self publish with short-run printing of physical copies. For more information or questions about our print services, contact InstantPublisher.com today.