As you may know if you follow me on Instagram, I’m currently underwater in the querying trenches, and it’s getting rougher every day. This process, along with my friendship with several indie authors, has me pondering the pros and cons for both traditional and self-publishing. I posted a survey of sorts on my Insta story to get feedback from other authors as well.
In my attempt to help authors who might have similar questions (to self-publish or to not self-publish), I figured I would provide my intial lists here and then sum up the feedback I received.
Traditional Publishing Pros:
- There is a certain “legitimacy” that comes with traditional publishing
- They do more of the work when it comes to editing, formating, cover art, etc.
- More likely to get your book into bookstores at a faster rate
Traditional Publishing Cons:
- They take a larger percentage of the profit
- Author’s loss of creative rights/freedoms
- Intense publication deadlines
- The querying process (plus searching for an editor to buy your book) is draining and brutual
- Author retains all creative freedoms
- Author is in control of all decisions (and future decisions if dealing with a series)
- Retains a higher percentage of book royalties (mostly)
- Control over publication deadlines
- Far more expensive
- More overall work (editing, formating, etc.)
- Biasim against indie authors/books
Here’s some of the feedback I received from a mix of traditionally and self-published authors:
- One of the biggest battles as an author is letting go of creative freedoms OR having to balance it all on your own
- There is a huge mental toll on both indie and trad. authors (imposter syndrome shows no discrimination)
- Self-publishing is a business. It’s hard, but the creative liberty is worth it.
- Different books fit different types of publishing.
- Unless you have a big publisher, you’re still responsible for the bulk of marketing and get a small percentage of sales. Some traditional publishers allow a lot of creative freedom, but I’ve heard a lot of stories about authors’ books ending up completely different than they started.
- There is also a bias against trad. publishing that isn’t really acknowledged.
- Bookstagram is very supportive of indie authors and trad. authors have had their ARC reads shut down by Bookstagram accounts simply because the book was traditionally published even though these authors are still responsible for finding their own ARC readers.
So to be completely unhelpful, let me answer your question: Should I self-publish or continue to try and publish traditionally?
My answer: I’m not sure. It really does depend on your book, your own personality, and your end goals for your book. Either way, the odds of you becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins is like winning the lottery. I’m not telling you not to play the game, but I am encouraging you to set realistic expectations and goals for yourself and your book. Don’t give up on your dreams, but don’t forget to rejoice in the small achievements along the way.
In the comments, let me know if you plan on publishing traditionally or independently?