Traditional VS. Self Publishing

Okay, checklist time without the actual boxes.

Yes, my book is finished.

Yes, it has been reviewed by others, but not enough to my liking.

No, I haven’t sent it out to agents. I don’t even have a query letter….

No, I don’t know which route to go through.

These are things to consider when proceeding with publishing the book, and I thought I’d share my opinions. Not that I’m an expert or anything, but I like to think that I know about a little bit about a bunch of things. Like some sort of rogue in those fantasy games (I’m a die hard Dragon Age fan). Also, I know this topic has probably been discussed to death by other people who know more (and actually published something) but here’s my take on it.

Traditional Publishing

I read somewhere -forgot where, terribly sorry about that- if you want your book on a shelf, this is the way to go. You can always print the book yourself, but I feel that’s a hundred times more difficult, correct me if I’m wrong.

I know I wouldn’t want to be responsible for all the copies to print. There’s always the possibility of overprinting and having a bunch of boxes full of books sitting around the house. Paper doesn’t burn too well, creates a mess.


Bad jokes aside, going through a traditional publisher is easier in some ways. Essentially there’s an army of people polishing your book, making it the best possible product to sell it to the masses.

There’s editors: make sure your book is pretty inside. Line edits, copy edits, grammatical edits, plot and character edits, stuff like that. Of course mistakes are made, but they are paid to make sure there’s as few as possible. Money is a great motivator.

Design team: make sure your book is pretty on the outside. Let’s be real here, covers matter a lot. First impressions and whatnot.

Commercial team: Sell your book in bookstores, book clubs, anything that could make money. They also cater to colleges, libraries, schools, anything that can get your book out there.

Marketing team: Self explanatory, although I’ve read that this is changing. The author has to market their own books nowadays.

Not all companies provide these services, it’s important to check out what services they do provide!

Also, having an agent makes the process a lot easier. Note, easier is subjective. An agent will pitch your book to the publisher and brooker the best deal possible. Before that, your book goes through additional edits. Prepare for a complete overhaul of current book. That isn’t a bad thing. Just a scary one that will leave a bruise.

Once you’ve landed an agent and publisher, the work continues in the form of countless edits and revisions. And why not? Once your book is sold, it’s not your book anymore. It’s a product a company is investing in and they expect a return. A nice one. Consider all the risk there is in producing books. In the end, the book may not even sell enough copies to break even.

That is the true tragedy.

So because your book isn’t yours anymore, you get a % of the proceeds depending on the contract you signed with your agent. Everyone gets a cut, and you won’t be getting the largest part.

Self Publishing

Now, let’s consider the other route that’s become insanely popular. The total opposite -and maybe the bane- of traditional publishing. Generally, I think of ebooks, but as I mentioned before you could always print your own book.

Now this method leaves you with the most freedom, you can do whatever the fuck you want. But this can work against you. See, everything a publisher does -army of people- falls onto you. You have to find editors, decide if you want to follow their edits, make your own cover, and market your book.

There’s plenty of websites, like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If I went this way, I’d probably go for Amazon. Not just because I use it for everything, but that’s where I get most of my ebooks from. Or you can use both, although Amazon was a waiting period (90 days).

Publishing has become so easy that anyone can do it, and thus caused an influx. The market is so saturated with books that it will be harder for people to find it. Why should they pay $2.99 when this other book is free?

On a completely random note, doesn’t it drive you crazy when the ebook and print price are the same? It’s insane considering how much less manufacturing goes into it.

One strategy is to have your book sell for free, to get some reviews maybe, then up the price in the following weeks.

Again, this doesn’t guarantee anything. People may not buy your book after they read it for free. That’s why you write sequels and stuff.

You may have heard the stories of authors making ridiculous amounts of (awesome) money through ebooks, but what of all the others? It’s no secret writing books doesn’t pay the bills. And if it is…

Well. If you’re writing for money then you’re in the wrong business.

 So Basically…

The one things I’ve learned for certain is that there are no certainties. There’s always a risk and what you put into your book is what you get. Don’t expect magical results if you don’t put in any effort.

That doesn’t only apply to publishing your book, but to life in general. Yea, look at me sneaking in a life lesson.

Either route has its pros and cons, and I believe the tradeoff is fair. Which means I still don’t know which one I prefer. Do I have enough time -balls- to do the whole thing myself? Market the book?

Fuck, I still haven’t begged strangers on the internet to review my book.

Me hiding from responsibilities

Or is my skin thick enough to withstand the publishing house?

Ugh, this was supposed to make things clearer, not more conflicting. As my mom says, in bocca a lupo, in the mouth of the wolf. For all my Assassin Creed fans -haha I don’t have fans- that thief dude said it to Ezio.

Basically means good luck.

Quick footnote here, I do realise there are routes that mix self and traditional publishing. I might also consider those, but I’m an either or type of gal. Consider this website for more indepth and probably more informative information regarding publishing. Jane Friedman is awesome.

Please people, learn about your options before committing to something. Either way, publishing a book AND being successful doing so is no easy feat.


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