Publishing can be overwhelming. Traditional vs. indie publishing each have their pros and cons and can get complicated. Let’s take a look at ways to make it less so.
What Are My Options To Get My Book Published?
There are many different publishing options available now. Independent and traditional are the two most discussed. The question that comes up the most amongst newer authors is “Which is better?”
Let’s explore the pros and cons of independent publishing versus traditional publishing to help you make the best decision for your career.
What is the difference between independent publishing and traditional publishing?
Independent publishing is when the author pays for all of their own expenses, including hiring independent editors and designers. The downside to independent publishing is that it can be costly because authors are expected to pay for everything. This includes editing, design, marketing and distribution costs.
Traditional publishers offer a wide range of services in exchange for royalties based on what percentage is agreed on. With traditional publishing there will be upfront fees for cover art designs and copyediting, as well as back end printing costs. However, traditional publishers tend to have more connections with bookstores and other outlets where books and magazines are sold. Traditional publishers also provide the author with marketing and distribution services which can be costly for independent publishers.
If you are a new independent publisher or one without any connections in the industry, it will likely be difficult to distribute your book as well as get reviews. Those publishing the traditional route often have a team backing them up who already has strong relationships with media outlets, retailers, etc. So you’ll need to do all of this yourself from scratch.
Traditional publishing provides a leg up in publicity because traditional publishers rely heavily on getting coverage through news sources.
Pros of self-publishing
Independent authors can publish their books without the need for a publisher or agent. They are also able to take full control over shaping their stories.
They have less overhead costs than larger companies, so more money goes into marketing and promotion. This means that independent authors often get a larger percentage of the royalties.
Independent publishing is an opportunity for authors to connect with readers and build their reputation as well as find new opportunities in marketing, publicity, or sales from people who are interested in what they have to say.
It gives writers more control over how they publish and market their own works
Independent publishing often costs less since there’s no need to hire an agent or publisher. There is a cost for the ISBN number assigned by Bowker (US), this can be purchased at a reduced fee through MyIdentifiers.com (Canada) and is not required to publish.
Authors typically have creative freedom with independent publication as opposed to traditional publication where editors may censor some content that doesn’t fit within certain ethical guidelines. However, this should not deter people from looking into independent publishing if it’s something they feel passionately
Cons of self-publishing
Independent publishers don’t typically offer distribution channels like Amazon, which can limit the independent author’s readership.
Independent publishing is difficult to break into and there is very little chance for fame or fortune. This means that many authors self-publish their books because they don’t want to put in the hard work to get a traditional publishing contract.
Many independent publishers are not able to offer marketing and promotion as well as larger companies.
Pros of traditional publishing
Traditional publishing provides independent authors with a leg up when it comes to publicity because traditional publishers rely heavily on getting coverage through news sources like newspapers.
Traditional publishers provide independent writers with the marketing and distribution services that independent publishing authors are responsible for, which can be costly.
Independent publishing is more difficult than traditional publication since there’s no team backing them up and they have to do all of this themselves from scratch – something traditional publishing offers automatically by working closely with independent people already in those positions- thus making it easier for independent publishings find success if they work hard at building their connections or simply want an agent who negotiates contracts on their behalf.
Cons of traditional publishing
Authors may lose creative control over the story being told when they sign a traditional publishing contract, which independent authors don’t have to worry about.
Authors may also not get the credit they deserve for their independent works because traditionally published authors receive most of the recognition and publicity- something independent publishers are responsible for themselves.
Traditional publishers can be difficult to break into since it’s hard to know who is interested in what you’ve got without an agent or marketing team behind you. With independent publishing people can find your book through search engines or by word of mouth from family and friends.
Pricing: $0 – free (the long-form content should be available online)
Examples: Cheryl Strayed has utilized both self-publishing and independent publishing techniques. She self-published her personal memoir, “Wild,” to an audience of friends and family. When she wanted something more professional for mass-market readers, independent publishing was the best option.
Publishers Weekly is a popular publication covering traditional publishing news
The Book Publishing Company helps independent publishers get their titles out in print or digital formats with ease
A List Apart offers independent writers new perspectives on design, web standards, development & more
We also offer 40% off any title from your store when you use coupon code: IndieForty at checkout! That’s right – 40% OFF all purchases* until January 31st (sale ends Wednesday) *Coupon does not apply to shipping charges or custom orders. Ends January 31
My Personal Opinion on the Subject
What I think about independent publishing and traditional publishing
I believe independent publishing is a viable option for authors who want to control their work, and those with the patience to do all of the marketing themselves. I also think that it’s usually not worth pursuing traditional publishing unless an author enjoys being at the mercy of editors and would like readership outside his/her personal circle. The independent writer has more freedom than ever before because there are fewer barriers in place today due to technology. However, you have to put in your own time and money into making everything happen. This is something most independent writers enjoy doing on their own terms.
What amazes me about self-publishing is how much easier it is now compared to just ten years ago when choices were limited and many were bullied into traditional methods. Today independent publishing is a viable option for most writers and offers the same or better opportunities as traditional publication.
The question of which type of publisher to choose really depends on what you want from your book. If an author wants creative control over his/her work, then independent publishing might be the best bet. But if they also need readership outside their personal circle, independent authors may have more difficulty as there’s no one building up popularity unless they put in their own time and money into marketing efforts – something that not all independent writers are interested in doing themselves.
I’m lucky enough to have had both experiences: my first novel was published by HarperCollins after I signed with an agent and before self-publishing my second book. For me, independent publishing was the best option because I’m a control freak. However, it’s really up to you what works for your specific goals in terms of traditional vs. indie publishing
Q&A Section for Readers
Q: What is the difference in traditional vs. indie publishing?
A: There are a few differences between independent publishing and traditional publishing, but the main difference is that independent publishers don’t have editors or cover designers.
Q: What types of books does independent publishing usually publish?
A: When it comes to independent publishers, they mainly publish fiction stories, poetry collections, memoirs, cookbooks – you name it! As an author who wants to get their work out into the world for all to read without having to wait on anybody else’s approval process (and with no risk!), this can be very appealing. However – as mentioned earlier in this post – there are some disadvantages that authors should consider before making any decisions about what type of publisher they go with.
– Does your book fit within the genre that independent publishers usually publish?
– Do you have an agent who will be able to look at your contract and negotiate for you if needed?
– How much money do you have to invest in publishing costs (i.e. editing, cover design) before the book is published?
– What are the terms of the contract like with independent publishing companies?
Q: What types of books does traditional publishing usually publish?
A: If a writer wants their work out into the world quickly – or they don’t want risk on their part – then traditional publishing can seem appealing. However, there are still disadvantages authors should consider before making any decisions about what type of publisher they go with.
– What are the terms of the contract like with traditional publishing companies?
– Do you have an agent who will be able to look at your contract and negotiate for you if needed?
Q: How does independent publishing work, then?
A: There is a lot that goes into independent publishing. The first thing authors need to do is research independent publishers in their genre. This includes visiting bookstores or websites where books similar to yours are sold – places authors want people reading their work! Once they’ve narrowed down which publisher(s) they’re interested in, it’s time for them to contact these publishers directly. From there, it really depends on what each particular publisher wants from an author before officially signing
Most people have a clear idea of what they want to write and don’t need help from traditional publishing companies. So independent publishing might be a better option. If you work hard enough, independent authors eventually get picked up by larger publishers. Some even become famous on their own through connections with readers and other bloggers.