Self Publishing (Indie) versus Traditional Publishing
I have so far only self published, and I haven’t delved into even querying as far as novels go, just because self publishing just seemed the best option for my own needs. Now, self publishing isn’t for everyone, and I debated over the two options for some time before I made my decision, which I only decided after making a detailed list for both options. I would like to think I am non-biased in this matter, but as of today, I can’t say for sure either way. Hopefully, my view will be fairly equal on both ends. Regardless, onward to the list.
- COMPLETE CREATIVE CONTROL
This was the number one reason for my choosing self publishing. I didn’t want to have to change my story lines for the sake of genre or popularity. But at the same time, this could also be seen as a negative depending on who you ask. Creative control is great as far the creating goes, but this can harm the ability to see developmental edit problems. Not always the case, but it has been a major worry of mine. Easily fixed with an editor (easily fixed as far as the extra set of eyes is concerned, takes work to edit), but we’ll get into editing later.
- CONTROL PROFITS/PRICES
You get to price things, set up discounts or sales, and how much you want to earn for every book sold (all of these are dependent on what avenue you go through to publish your book). There are no big publishing companies eating up your profits. Another big reason to consider self publishing, but at the same time, it doesn’t mean your going to sell enough books to make a huge profit. Just another facet to consider.
- MORE PUBLISHING OPTIONS
What size paperback do you want? Do you want some hardback copies? Do you want to do an ebook? Do you want to go through CreateSpace? Kobo? iTunes? It’s all up to you. It can be overwhelming, but you get complete control over all of it.
- YOU STILL NEED AN EDITOR/TEAM
Despite having complete control, you do still need the team a traditional publisher would provide, and unless you are able to raise money in some fundraiser-fashion, you’ll be paying for your team out of your own pocket. You’ll have to pay for an editor, maybe multiple editors depending on the type of edits you’re looking for, you’ll have to pay for a cover design(er), you have to pay for your own copyright, you may have to pay for extra things during the publishing process (hardback costs, extra avenues to sell, etc.). You need the funds, and some can say they don’t need all of these things, but a professional eye may be necessary. Keep all of this in mind.
- FIGHTING THE STIGMAS
Though you’re probably a wonderful writer, not everyone can tell that, and with the rise in self publishing, you will constantly be fighting the stigma of, “all indie is of bad quality.” This is one of the most untrue statements I’ve ever seen, and that’s not just because I myself am a self published author, but I digress. This belief stands with many people, and you’ll be fighting it constantly.
Though traditional publishers don’t promote as often as people would like to think, they do help and tend to send authors in a certain direction, but as an indie, you have to promote yourself. There has to be a balance between writing and promoting, constantly. Finding that balance can be tough, but self-promo isn’t all bad. You get to control the rate at which your books are promoted, which books are promoted, where they are promoted, and how they are promoted. It’s just another facet of your control as an author.
- NOT MUCH FUNDING NECESSARY
NOTE: I’m not discussing vanity publishing, which is not the same thing as traditional publishing, though they are unfortunately intertwined. Vanity publishing, as I see it, is a scam. It’s traditional publishing, but with the the required funds of self publishing. Be careful, be wary.
Regardless, the most money you should spend on attempting to publish traditionally is in the envelope and the stamp. If they pick you up, they take the necessary funds out of your projected royalties. Less stress than self publishing, but also less control.
- LESS CREATIVE CONTROL
This is not to say that you lose total control of your work, but publishers, once you’ve signed the contract, have the right to tweak or change some things in order to fit a certain genre better or to attract more readers. Not really a bad thing depending on what you think, and its something these publishers are trained and knowledgeable in. They’re not always right, though. They’re human just like the rest of us, but their input is helpful.
- VARYING WAIT FOR PUBLISHING/EDITOR STILL REQUIRED
You don’t control your publishing time, but that’s not necessarily bad either. It gives you time to write more books, with much less stress. There is also no guarantee that you will be picked up by the publisher, and you may still need an editor just to polish your manuscript.’
Most publishers won’t give the time of day to a manuscript not represented by an agent, but once you land an agent, they handle the publishers, which takes care of that. You will have to pay them eventually, but they’re there to help you. They want to get you the best deal possible so they can get paid. Agents are a major asset.
- STILL NEED TO PROMOTE
You will still need to promote yourself. You’ll still need to be on Twitter, FaceBook, G+, etc. but the publishers will probably direct you as to what needs to be on your social media sites, and they may even have the ability to control what is posted. Not always, but it can happen. Once again, depending on your opinions when it comes to control and promoting, this may be good, may be bad. Promotion is a lot less on the traditional publishing side, mainly because they will be helping you along.
I’m not an expert on either side of the publishing lines, but I do know one thing. No matter which route you as a write decide to take, you are an author. Neither is better than the other, and I refuse to take part in the bipartisan battle between the two. If you write, you’re a writer. Whether you agree or not, that’s up to you. Now, for questions. Which have you chosen? Have you chosen? Did my list help you decide? Did I miss something? What are your opinions on either option? Are you both? Let me know, and comment below!
Thanks for reading.
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A very helpful article.
The funny thing about it is, here we are, becoming writers, hoping that we won’t have to communicate a lot.
And then, no matter which type of publishing you choose, you need to be prepared to market it, meaning talk to people about it, meaning communication 😀
This is true! We start out as hermits at our desks, in our rooms, and in our minds. Then, once we are done, we are forced to come out and show our souls to the world.
It’s an odd balance.
And suddenly, you’re ‘I spent 48 hours editing this and there are about 12 liters of coffee in me, so I don’t like you. But buy my book?’ :))
Joking, of course. Kind of.
Joking, but not joking.
So much truth.