As a published author I’m constantly asked which is best when it comes to Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing and my answer is always the same, it’s a matter of preference. I know, that’s not the answer you were looking for. But follow what I’m saying because whether you decide to go the Self-Publishing route or the Traditional Publishing route there are still Pros and Cons to each.

Traditional Publishing Pros

  • Absolutely no out of pocket cost
  • You get a WIDE “established” distribution network for your book
  • The established distribution leads to more exposure even for an unknown author
  • Almost all traditional publishers offer an advance
  • The traditional publishers have an in house Editor and team for editing, cover design and formatting
  • Traditional publishers normally have an in house PR person to set up book signings and get the word out to the press
  • You could end up a newbie author catapulted to mid-list fame or nominated for an award (maybe)

Traditional Publishing Cons

  • Most traditional publishers want you to have an agent even prior to consideration
  • It can take over a year and a half after the signed contract for your book to hit bookstores
  • Unless your agent can negotiate differently you’ll normally have no say over cover design
  • Oftentimes the marketing and promotion of your book is limited to 1-3 months after release date
  • Traditional publishers pay royalties to their authors twice per year and that’s it
  • After an author’s initial advance royalties on a trade paperback book is on average 6%
  • If authors don’t earn back their advance they normally won’t be offered another book contract

Sidenote: In some cases with contracts if you are given an advance and don’t deliver the book you can be sued and forced to pay back an advance, yes, even after you’ve spent it.

Self-Publishing Pros

  • As an author you won’t have to wait a year to see your book on shelves
  • You don’t have to find an agent
  • You don’t have to find a publisher and send endless queries
  • You get paid once a month instead of twice a year like traditional publishers
  • As an author you are in control of the editing, formatting and cover design
  • By publishing yourself you get a better royalty rate than 6% per copy with a traditional publisher
  • If a mainstream publisher wants to pick up your book later on, you’re not tied to a contract

Sidenote: There’s be quite the upswing with authors hoping to be the next Amanda Hocking. She became a millionaire self-publishing on Kindle. While this isn’t the norm, perhaps it isn’t totally a fluke either.

Self Publishing Cons

  • Unlike traditional publisher you foot the entire bill
  • Distribution and exposure can be limited especially if you don’t understand the ins and outs of the business
  • No advance from a traditional publisher
  • You have to hit the streets and promote, promote, promote
  • You’ll end up fighting for shelf space with authors from traditional publishers and small presses too
  • YOU ARE quality control. Typos and anything that doesn’t make sense is on YOU
  • Wrestling payments from bookstores who have sold you book (this is actually a PRO if they ever pay you)

Whichever route you decide to take remember, don’t base your decision on not having the money to self-publish and wanting someone else to foot the entire bill on your book. After all, it’s YOUR story, you have to want to invest in you too. Also, don’t let the hype of a very lucrative six-figure book deal that some author got once upon a time bait you either. Bowker reported that in 2012 there were “3,500 books published each day in the US.” That means nowadays authors have to put in WORK to get noticed! If you’re not willing to work don’t publish a book. Publish because you love it. I hope that helps!



Self Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter
Platform: Get Noticed In a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt
Sell Your Book Like Wildfire by Rob Eagar
1001 Ways to Market Your Book by John Kremer