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Self-Publishing versus Traditional Routes
So you want to get published. That’s great, it probably means that you’ve come to that wonderful stage with your work where you believe you’ve done well and are ready to set it loose into the great unknown – the market. Here, however, is where most budding authors fond the greatest obstacles. How do I get published? Will any agent want me? Do I even need one? Is it better to self-publish? Well, those are the questions we’ll be trying to answer here.
Talk to My Publicist T-Shirt

The real reason why most authors never get published is they give up too soon. The market for books has never been ideal, but it seems that today, even with all the options the world has to offer, getting published is difficult. There are many resources out there that help writers prepare their manuscripts before they submit them to agents and these are always good to have a look at in order to avoid rejection for some silly admin reason.

Sometimes unfortunately, a well-presented manuscript isn’t enough.  Some agents won’t accept a book that doesn’t fit in their portfolio no matter how good it is. Even though it is possible to do some homework on the agents you want to submit to, not all of them will tell you whether they’re taking on fiction or genre fiction or if they’re even open for submission! It mostly true that finding an agent is more difficult than finding a publisher, but still – with all this confusion and a high probability that no matter who you send your work to, it will get rejected, isn’t it easier to just put it up on Amazon and let the readers decide?

Here are some factors you’ll need to keep in mind:

1.       TIME

I’m sure it’s taken you some time to write the book and now that you’re finally finished, you want to see the damn thing published already! Unfortunately, if you strike a deal with a traditional publisher, it will take at least a year, and by ‘at least’ I mean that it’s highly unlikely to take this little, especially if the publisher genuinely likes your book. There will be marketing strategies, cover art, rights and other things to take care of before your book will be ready to hit the shelves. Those things all take time. If you self-publish, the process is a bit different.

click > click > ‘I accept’ > click > ‘upload file’ > click > ‘fill out form’ > click > finish

I don’t think we can add anything to this point, although you should really make sure that your book is finished, well edited and that it looks professional. Which bring us to my next point…


2.       EXPERTISE

Publishing houses have probably been selling books linger than you have. They know how to shape an idea into a product that will bring your writing and the reading community together. This involves a lot of experts who are paid to make sure your book is the best it can and that it is present to the right audience. It is often said that all best-selling self-published authors are better at marketing than publishing houses will ever be, but if this were true for every self-published author, they’d all be best-sellers. You need to make sure you know exactly how to market your book and that you might have to invest some of your own money to get the masses attention. You also have to be (or hire) a good editor and create (or hire someone to do it) a good professional cover design.  If all you want to do is write, then you will have to pay for all these people and have the necessary knowledge to find and choose the best ones for your book, while if you publish on a traditional way, there will be people who will do all of this for you.


3.       CONTROL

When an agent or a publisher take your book on, they may say – I like you book, BUT this and this needs to go, or you need to change the setting, or rewrite it in the first person. This may not be advice, but a conditional offer. This is the point where you as a writer need to decide whether you’re willing to trust them or stick with what you have and not let anyone tell you what your book should be like.  If you’re more inclined to do the latter, then self-publishing is for you. You will have absolute control over what’s being published.

4.       MONEY

Last  but not least. With traditional publishers, you may expect a share of the profits and an advance, which usually amount to about 10-20% of the retail price. The revenue in self-publishing is a lot higher are authors are expected to earn about 40-70% of the profits. This may sound like a lot of money, but traditionally published books sell at a higher price and are usually promoted a lot more efficiently which makes the revenue a lot higher. This means that a smaller cut of the profits with traditional publisher still means a lot more money than a self-published book that doesn’t sell very well.


In the end, you as a writer need to know exactly what you want and how you want to do it.  Many published authors say that it always better to try traditional routes first and if they don’t work for you, self-publish. Many authors have landed great agents and book deals through their self-published books that attracted a lot of attention, but some are happier without anyone limiting their creativity or telling them what to do…it is all still very complicated, but the bottom line remains the same. Keep trying.