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Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing in 2024.

Self Publishing vs Traditional publishing, a question that lives rent free in the minds of many authors.

Traditional publishing is dead. Truth be told; it died a while ago.

Some of us knew, and some of us did not. Let’s talk about this.

If you are an author who loves to write books; are looking to get your book published and are exploring your options, keen to know who wins the battle of self publishing vs traditional publishing, let me tell you something straight away. 

Don’t expect traditional publishing to work for you if you aren’t already a famous author or celebrity. That’s what it’d take for them to even to consider you.

First-time writers rarely get on the New York times bestselling author list overnight. Mainly, it’s because they don’t attract the attention of a big publishing agency and the publishing industry as a whole.

However, that isn’t the only route you can take. Generally, the idea of how there are both pros and cons to both the traditional publishing route and self-publishing, is for the most part, bogus. 

This article discusses the different approaches to publishing to help you determine the one that’s best for you:

1. Opt for Traditional Publishing If You:

Are willing to wait forever.

There’s much competition when it comes to grabbing an agent for your book for a traditional publisher. And when you do manage to get in touch with these pros, they’ll expect:

  • A formal book proposal.
  • Full book outline.
  • 1-2 sample chapters.

But that’s the easy bit.

Additionally, agents usually ask authors to improve the package before they pitch it to a big publishing house. So, be prepared for this process to be several months long if you do agree.

Your agent’s approach will be to reach out to houses publishing books in a similar genre. 

They’ll also have second and third-tier publisher lists. 

Since the process doesn’t come with guarantees and takes time, it tacks on several more months on your to-do list. 

The traditional publisher will assign an editor to you. You’ll receive your deadlines from them. 

Some authors won’t complete their books until after the whole process detailed above.  

The problem for authors is this: Traditional publishing houses are money-making, money-hungry machines that invest in authors that do not require an investment, to begin with. 

They make all their money via royalties; and when Will Smith’s agent walks in, looking for a publishing house for his new book, they see a Big dollar sign flashing in front of their eyes. And yes he did traditionally published his book, and made the New York Times best seller’s list. 

It does not matter how remarkable your story and journey is, they have to invest in you with great uncertainty about the financial outcome.

 It is a risk. That, along with the fact that there are thousands of others on the same list as you, makes your chance of working and succeeding with these publishing houses, minimal.

We’ve seen new authors self-publish their first book. Then, they land a deal with a big traditional publisher once they have an established fanbase or sell enough copies. 

Some do it both ways, and traditionally published authors do switch to self-publishing. 

So, if you want to be a part of the first group, break into the market via self-publishing, and switch later on. 

Nowadays, if you talk to a literary agent; having sold a couple of thousand copies on self-publishing platforms, will initiate the conversation and make it a serious one.

How famous are you?

The main factor that draws many authors towards commercial publishing is the hefty advance they can land. However, while traditional publishers will pay $500k or more, receiving such an offer is highly difficult.

We wouldn’t advise first-timers to try this route. However, traditional publishing is a smart option for the following:

  • Well-known celebrities or A-list actors
  • Famous athletes
  • CEOs who are household names
  • Politicians
  • High-selling professional novelists and other writers
  • Authors/Would-be authors with deep connections within the publishing industry

Even your social media followers matter. If you have a couple of 100 thousand followers on social media, a conversation might happen.

The whole point is this: Why take so much shit?

Why make your own life hard? Hasn’t living and writing the story as it is hard enough?

Here is what you need to do.

2. Self Publishing your book. It’s how the real ones do it.

You get to own your book. ALL OF IT.

By that, we mean you keep owning the rights to your book. That’s unlike what traditional publishing houses do. If the book’s copyright points to you, you decide everything about the write-to-publish journey. That includes:

  • How long a book will stay in print
  • When to pull it off the shelves
  • Promotional details about the publisher

Of course, you can choose to thank the publishers you worked with, but again, the word to focus on here is, choose!

Moreover, someone who’s worked with a traditional publishing house must buy back the rights to their own book if they want to self-publish later. 

Again, that’s only possible with the publisher’s permission. In self-publishing, you get full ownership and royalties of your book.

2. Get It on the Shelves Faster.

There’s often a huge gap between the time an author takes to complete their manuscript and see it transformed into a sellable product. 

So, if you aren’t publishing independently, don’t expect the different formats of your book to be available in book stores immediately. But ebooks can get there in less than six hours if you opt for a book self publisher

Their POD (print-on-demand) services, either, don’t take longer than 24 hours.

3. Get All the Royalties.

If your book earned it, you get to keep it. At least, that’s how reputable self-publishing companies work. Some do want a percentage of your royalties—we’d recommend staying away from those names. 

Going down the traditional routes gets you only 10% of the revenue. The story’s similar with Kindle Direct Publishing services.

3. Sell Your Book Everywhere.

We mean everywhere since you can get it on multiple platforms—unless you opted for Amazon KDP publishing—and in different countries. Convert it between formats—epub, pdf, mobi, etc.–and your work will be downloadable on various e-reading devices, such as tablets, Kobos, Nooks, etc. 

If you get self-publishing services from someone who knows what they’re doing, you can get your book published and distributed with every major publisher in every corner of the world.

Even if you want traditional publishing, you still need to self-publish your book first anyway.

We’ve seen new authors self-publish their first book. Then, they land a deal with a big traditional publisher once they have an established fanbase or sell enough copies. 

Some do it both ways, and traditionally published authors do switch to self-publishing. So, if you want to be a part of the first group, break into the market via self-publishing, and switch later on. 

Nowadays, if you talk to a literary agent; having sold a couple of thousand copies on self-publishing platforms, will initiate the conversation and make it a serious one.

4. Self-Publishing When You Trust the Right People with Your Baby Book.

There’s self-publishing, and then there’s self-publishing. Trust a capable self-publishing team with your book so you won’t have to do everything yourself. The perks include:

1. Having Your Own Support System.

When we say self-publishing, an image crops up in most minds. A hassled author, trying to locate the best-in-biz and affordable professionals to edit their book and do the other gazillion things necessary before distribution. But that’s not true anymore.

You may not have an arsenal of staff like traditional publishers do. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t have your own support system. 

And we aren’t talking about trusting freelancers to copyedit or design your book. Instead, reach out to reputable self-publishing companies and get access to professionals for proofreading, publishing, and editing services.

2. Entering the Bookstore Game.

Do you remember when we said it’s difficult to flood the book market with print copies of your self-published work? You can remove that obstacle because firms offering book self-publishing services have the tools or personnel to convert your manuscript from format to formats, such as ebooks, print, and audiobooks. 

The best ones also design detailed marketing strategies for its distribution!

Below, we mention names that will get your books on the right shelves and in book-loving hands:

  1. IngramSpark’sbroad international reach and print-on-demand options make it perfect for self-publishing authors.
  2. Draft2Digitaland its recent acquisition of Smashwords should count as two convenient options that self-publishers can use easily to put out fully formatted and finished books globally!  
  3. Kobo is behind the retail of almost a quarter of ebooks sold in Canada. But their global reach wins the hearts of more self-publishers every day.

3. Grow Your Business.

Getting published means carving your place as an authority in your field. The credibility you generate will help your business grow. So, want to leverage your new ebook and grow your business

Do it with your own ebook but make sure you publish for success. By that, we mean working with a company to increase how big of an impact your ebook will have on your business. Gain many more opportunities with a professionally vetted book.

FYI, the reverse is also true. As your self-publisher will tell you, you can use your business to generate buzz and draft more buyers for the book from within your client base.

4. Do More with Your Book.

If you’re done with a book, you’ll want at least as many eyes on it as you can. But really selling it will require smart writing and even smarter marketing. Because that’s the point! An indie publishing firm will support you on all those fronts.

Marketing’s not easy even for big-time publishers; you don’t want to be the sole soul promoting your work. Self-publishing companies have inventive marketing strategies to keep you from entering that maelstrom, such as:

  • Author pages
  • Dedicated-to-promotion sites

Author pages usually work like home pages of websites. That’s where you provide customizable and pertinent details, such as:

  • Customizable carousels for showing off your other books
  • Headshots
  • Bios
  • Newsletter link
  • Social media profile links
  • Character Spotlights

For instance, D2D’s sister site, Books2Read, holds Universal Book Links (UBLs) for authors. These easy-to-access and evergreen links list outlets where your book’s being sold as:

  • Paperback
  • Ebook
  • Hardcover
  • Audiobook
  • Large print

That’s not to mention how much simpler it can make sales and distribution on platforms such as:

  • Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Kobo
  • Tolino
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Overdrive
  • Scribd

Since you’ll be the one in charge, you set the price and choose channels for distribution. And doing all this with a point and click will make things infinitely easier. You’d be able to tap into hundreds of sub-channels globally!

Final Verdict:

Now that we’ve discussed traditional publishing vs self publishing, understand this: 

Most self-pubbed books don’t sell many copies for one simple reason: their authors don’t realize the importance of Done-For-You services! 

However, it’s the main reason most newbies and veteran authors opt for self-publishing. That said, if you’ve your next bestseller ready, don’t make the call to do it all yourself. Instead, make the call to self-pub pros and get rid of the headaches associated with the process. 

In short, get expert guidance on all aspects, such as cover design and worldwide distribution, without losing most of your royalties!

Writers of the West offers book publishing services in 4 formats, ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook for both fiction and non fiction books. Check out our affordable price point of book writing and self publishing services here

Plus, they offer book global-publishing services in different regions of the world, including:

  • Amazon (Worldwide)
  • Barnes and Noble 
  • Google Books (Worldwide)
  • Apple books (Worldwide)
  • Walmart 
  • Target
  • The last bookstore
  • Tattered Cover bookstore
  • Village books
  • Books Inc.
  • Waterstones.
  • Booktopia (Australia and Newzealand)
  • World of Books (U.K)
  • Books a Million (Australia and Newzealand)
  • Thalia (Europe)
  • Books-a-Million (BAM!)
  • Indigo (Canada)
  • Rakuten Kobo (U.S & Canada)


Hosanna Flores

Hosanna Flores

Senior book Editor at Writers of the West with over a decade of experience in ghostwriting best selling self-help and children's book.

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