I get a lot of questions about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. There is no right or wrong way to publish a book, however I elected to self-publish. Here is an overview of both methods.
If your manuscript is accepted by a traditional publisher, then the publisher will take on all the responsibility to produce and print your book. The publisher will purchase the rights to your story and in some cases pay you an advance on future royalties. The benefit of having a traditional publisher is that they do all the work and pay to get your book complete and distributed. The down side to traditional publishing is that they take the rights to your book and majority of the profit.
In contrast to traditional publishing, the self-publisher does all the work to produce the book and funds each step. The up-side is that the self-publisher keeps the rights to their story and all the profit from book sales.
Differences between the two
With traditional publishing, a manuscript can take years to become a book. First, an author may have to pitch the manuscript to several publishing houses before it is picked up, which could take anywhere from 6 months to several years. Then, once the title is picked up, the actual process of producing the book takes at least another year.
With self-publishing, an author can literally have a finished book—hardcover or paperback or both—in his or her hands within six – twelve months. My book took approximately 8 months from starting to write to holding it in my hands. And, now with the popularity of e-books, this can be reduced to weeks, or even days. Of course, authors have to pay for this service, which raises the issue of money.
With self-publishing, you pay for the production of the book, which could take thousands of dollars. In contrast, with traditional publishing, you are paid an advance, ranging from small sums (which is most common for unknown authors) to seven-digit figures. The benefit of taking on the financial commitment with self-publishing buys you control and gives you 100% of the profits vs. 15%-20% of the profits, if traditionally published.
It’s all up to you…
Having looked at traditional publishing versus self-publishing, I made the decision to self-publish. For me, I didn’t see any reason to give the rights to my story, my personal story, to anyone else. I also didn’t want to give up the profits to my story, even if they did some work to help get it produced. In the end, I decided it was best for me to pay the upfront investment and reap the long-term rewards.
I can’t tell you what will be best for you because there are many factors to consider such as your time, money, control, genre of book and purpose for writing it. I can tell you that no matter which route you go, writing a book and becoming an author is worth every bit of it in the end.