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Traditional or Self-Publishing?

If you are a writer who has completed work that you would like to be published, you may have found yourself weighing and balancing your options. The two primary avenues that you can take when it comes to getting your work published today is through a traditional publishing operation or through self-publishing. This article is designed to provide you a comparison of these two different publishing options. By considering the differences between traditional and self-publishing, you will be in a better position to determine which option will work best for you.


Putting It To Print

There are two primary differences between traditional and self-publishing. First, through traditional publishing you do not have to pay anything to have your manuscript put into print. The publishing house handles all of the expenses associated with the design, production and printing of your book. Moreover, in many instances, the publishing house will primarily be responsible for promoting your work. However, in this day and age, a growing number of traditional publishers require their published authors to devote their own time (and sometimes a bit of their own money) to the actual promotion of a book.



If you were to go the self-publishing route, you would be completely responsible for the costs associated with publishing your manuscript. This includes everything from editing, to design, to printing and promotion. Therefore, if you are going to go the self-publishing route, you need to make certain that you have the financing available to pay the costs associated with self-publishing of your manuscript.


Marketing Your Book

The second primary difference between traditional and self-publishing rests in the fact that in most instances, at least initially, a traditionally published book will carry more power in the marketplace than will a book produced through a self-publishing process. Book wholesalers and retailers together with book reviewers, all consider a traditionally published book to be more marketable and perhaps even of a better quality, because it has already gone through a vetting process at the publishing house.


Release of Your Book

In looking at the issue of time to release, odds are that you can see your manuscript published and available for sale quicker through the self-publishing route. Indeed, depending on the self-publishing service that you utilize, you might even be able to see your manuscript in print within a matter of weeks. In some cases, when dealing with a traditional publishing house, it might actually be over a year from the time your project is green lighted until you see your book in print and available for sale.


Earning The Pennies

Another difference between traditional and self-publishing rests in the way you can earn money on your manuscript. In some instances when you are published through a traditional publishing house you can receive compensation even before your book is published and royalties as the book sells. On the other hand, in taking the self-publishing route, you will only be paid as your book sells (if your book sells).


Control Over Your Manuscript

Through self-publishing, you actually retain full control over your book. You get to decide what artwork will be used on the cover of your book, for example. In addition, you fully control all aspects associated with marketing. However, you are also completely responsible for marketing your book and you do not have the backing of a publishing house to assist you in this regard.

If you are published through a publishing company, you give a great deal of control over your manuscript to the publishing house. The publisher will be able to make final decisions in regard to such matters as art and design, released date, marketing and so forth. The theory obviously is that because the traditional publisher is paying the tab, the publisher gets to call the shots.

There are also differences in editing between traditional and self-publishing operations. A traditional publisher will assign an editor to a manuscript to make certain that it is perfectly in order before going to press. In most instances, the only way you will get any editing assistance through a self-publishing company is if you pay extra for such services. In some instances, there are self-publishing operations that do not offer any editing assistance at all. If that is the case, it would behove you to retain the services of an experienced editor who does some freelance work. You really must have a professional edit your manuscript if you really want to succeed in the world of writing.


Reputation Matters

Of course, whether you are going the traditional or self-publishing route you need to make certain that you associate yourself with a reputable publisher. Indeed, this particularly is the case if you go the self-publishing route. Obviously, through self-publishing, it is your money that is on the line.

Unfortunately, there are some disreputable operators in the publishing business today. They seem particularly to gravitate towards the self-publishing arena. With this in mind (and, again, particularly if you are going the self-publishing route) you need to examine thoroughly the background and reputation of a self-publishing operation before you invest your money in the process.


Which Way is Best?

In the final analysis, you need to understand that the world of professional writing and being published is complicated and very challenging. You have a better chance of finding success if you are published through a traditional publishing house because of the commercial benefits that attach to being published through such a company. However, you have a far better chance of seeing your book in print if you self publish. Thousands of manuscripts are sent to traditional publishers each year and only a handful will ever make it into print. In the end, you need to weigh and balance the benefits afforded each of these publishing alternatives as you go about working to decide whether to try and get a traditional publisher to pick up your manuscript, or whether you should self publish.