Self-Publishing Vs A Book Deal

By on May 7, 2021

Many authors struggle with the decision to self-publish. Many dream of landing a lucrative publishing deal, but also must face the knowledge that this is unlikely to become a reality. Preparing a book to submit to publishers takes a lot of work and energy, and having to face the likely possibility of rejection is challenging. But preparing a book for self-publication and having to deal with possible criticism and poor reviews is also a daunting prospect.

The truth is, there are many pros and cons to both traditional publishing and self-publishing. The best thing any author can do, therefore, is to arm themselves with as much knowledge as possible about both routes, so they can decide which is best for them.

What is self-publishing?

Self-publishing means that you as the writer will be responsible for everything. You will be in charge of editing your book, the book cover, deciding when to release, and then promoting your book. Of course, you have to hire professionals to help you but arranging and paying for these services will be down to you.

If you self-publish you own the rights to your book and royalties will be all yours (minus any fee deducted by the platform on which you are selling).

What is traditional publishing?

Traditional publishing means that you will enter into a contractual agreement with a third party who will take on these responsibilities. All the editing and marketing and design decisions will be made by them and they will decide how and when to release your book via one of their imprints. You will earn royalties based upon a percentage of the total. This is usually quite small.

Let’s break down the main differences between self and traditional publishing

Money

If you self-publish you have to pay for any professional services you enlist such as book cover design. If you get traditionally published this is all taken care of. It costs around $1500-2000 to self-publish. However, once you do, you then earn around 50-70% of the money made from each book sold. Traditional publishing percentages are usually between 5-15% - so you need to sell a lot more books to make the same amount of money. But you will have a professional team backing you to do so.

Creative control

If you self-publish you are in complete control of every decision made surrounding your book. When you’ve poured your heart and soul into something, having to relinquish control of editing, cover design, and so on can be very difficult. A traditional publisher might entertain your thoughts, but ultimately, all the creative decisions will no longer be within your control once the contract is signed. 

Readers

If you want to get your book in front of as many pairs of eyes as possible, traditional publishing might well be the way to go. A good publisher will invest heavily in the marketing and promotion of your book and hopefully will ensure your book sells well. Self-publishers know all too well that getting your book in front of readers isn’t easy. There is so much competition and without a big marketing budget, a huge amount of continual effort, and an excellent marketing plan, this can be the biggest challenge.

Literary prestige

If you want to win the Man Booker Prize, traditional publishing is important. The vast majority of book prizes and literary competitors are only open to writers with traditional publishing contracts. However, there are some great indie author prizes to be won such as the Eric Hoffer Book Award, the Independent Publisher Book Awards, the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award, so there is still hope.

If you care about having control over your novel Self Publishing is definitely the right route for you. However, if your dream is to become a famous, well-read author, you might want to try landing a traditional publishing contract first. It’s a big decision and a personal one, so taking the time to consider your options will help ensure that you make the right one.

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