Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing


Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing – who comes out on top? Did you even know there’s a difference? Some don’t. Others do and choose one side or the other to publish their writing. Neither side is perfect – both are equally flawed with their pro’s and con’s and struggles and rewards. As a writer who hopes to publish a book, choosing which way to go can be a daunting challenge. Recently, while perusing my way through the Twitterverse, I stumbled upon a writer who says this in their profile:


I’m a writer who believes in traditional publishing. I just cant pat myself on the back, call myself a writer, then self publish my own book.


I laughed. I admit it. As a self-published writer I know how hard it is to do it all myself. I’ve never even attempted to go the way of traditional publication: submitting my work to dozens if not hundreds of agents or publishers with the hope that someone would ‘bite’ and take me under their wing, then rip apart my work with an expensive editor until it fits perfectly into the mainstream genre box they deem appropriate. And then one waits for publication date – and it doesn’t always come. If it does, the publisher, designer, editor, etc…gets their cut of the profits, leaving the author with a fraction. Of course, on the flip-side, having an editor go through your work, a publisher to market for you and someone to professionally design a book cover are ALL great points.


Self-publishing is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a do it yourself job or hire help. I’m not an editor, nor am I a graphic designer, so I NEED help for those things, but the creative input is there to be a part of the process every step of the way. After writing, editing, formatting, creating, designing, publishing and promoting/marketing – the Self-Published Author is exhausted. Though most times – pretty happy. I would say that all writers deserve a pat on the back for simply writing a story. Not every person writes a book, tho many WANT to. Far less actually release the book they wrote to the public. Publishing is a big deal, period. As it should be. So, back to the point on that very little and simple Twitter profile bio – loads of successful books have been written and published by Self Publishers. I know several very talented Self-Published Authors. We don’t do this merely for a pat on the back (tho sometimes to remain sane, one simply must acknowledge their hard work and remind themselves that they are doing what they love – their way). Again, the flip-side of this publishing coin is that anyone and their mother can publish a book if they wanted to, which means those who shouldn’t write are actually publishing EVERY DAY. Don’t let the ones that probably shouldn’t release a book diminish the fact that there are thousands of amazing self-published books out there waiting to be discovered. I personally think it’s much harder to do it all yourself and be successful than hand your work over to someone else and hope for the best.

Remember Indies (Independent writers) make up some great stuff. Give them a chance, and you’ll see that Traditional Publishing isn’t the ONLY way to do it and have fun. Happy Reading!

9 thoughts on “Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

  1. lifeandlims says:

    I agree in certain respects. As a writer, I tried and tried and TRIED to get my mothering memoir published through traditional channels. But nonfiction is particularly difficult to get published. So I finally gave in and self-published. It was about 8 years ago, so e-books weren’t really dominant at that point, no Kindle yet, and the only quick and easy option was POD, which I didn’t like the look of. They just looked cheap. So I did it all myself, hired a book cover designer, and printed 2000 copies. I sold about 200. Now I have a few stacks of boxes of unsold books in my garage, taking up space. I doubt I’d ever get this published traditionally, so I’m glad I did it myself. But the reality is it’s highly unlikely that I or someone in a similar position will sell very many. That’s just the reality. Simple as that. Even now in the days of e-publishing.
    On the other hand, as a book reviewer, I mostly can still say the traditional route still keeps the quality of writing that gets published at a higher level. That’s not true in every single case, by any means, but it’s still mostly true overall. I’m very picky about what I spend my time reading, and I like to know that several layers of readers have already vetted what I’m going to take the time to read (and possibly buy). I have been pleased to find a few authors who started the self-published route get picked up by traditional publishers and find success. But again, they are, I believe, the exception to the rule.
    Those are my takes in a nutshell. I also wrote a post about self-publishing myself. As a writer, I want to encourage other writers, but as a reader and reviewer, I also want to make sure that writers know the harsh realities.


  2. timamarialacoba says:

    Well said, Trish. I’m one of those authors who’ve decided to go indie, although I’ve been offered a traditional publishing contract. I like the idea of being in charge of my own creation, but knowing my book was ‘good enough’ to publish is a plus. And, being published does not necessarily mean the work has been vetted by editors etc. I’ve read some shockers – typos, bad grammar, terrible syntax, poor story – which have been traditionally published. So that old adage about a traditionally published book being of a higher standard, no longer applies.


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