Anyone who has tried to get a book published in recent years knows there are a myriad of choices writers are presented with when trying to find the right home for their work. Perhaps the biggest, and certainly one of the earliest, choices to be made is whether to go the traditional publishing route or to self-publish. To help, we’ve broken down the differences between the two avenues and will discuss why one path might be better over the other.
Self-publishing has gotten a bad rap for a long time, but it’s quickly becoming a smart and viable option for many creatives. One of the biggest pros of self-publishing is creative control. Writers get to maintain full ownership of their work and not worry about the large overhauls a team might make. This also makes the road to publication a much quicker process than it would be otherwise. Another pro? Because production costs are often paid upfront, the royalty percentages from self-published books are much higher than they are for traditionally-published books.
Self-publishing, though, as with anything, has its drawbacks. Perhaps the biggest barrier is that it costs money upfront to get the book produced, meaning the book will have to sell a certain amount before the author turns a profit. Adding to that, the marketing required to make those sales happen are often either entirely or largely up to the author. Writers who self-publish should also either have a wide-ranging skill set themselves or should be willing to pay independent designers in order to get the cover, editing, and design of the book the way they want it.
With traditional publishing, a writer’s literary agent will pitch the book to various publishers. This, combined with the extensive team writers gain access to once they do secure a book deal, means that writers get to focus on the thing that matters most--the writing. Publishing companies have networks to distribute books to various bookstores, so the book will likely have a wider reach than it would with self-publishing, and many literary prizes will only consider traditionally-published books to win their prestigious awards. Another thing to consider with traditional publishing is that it requires no money upfront. In fact, many book deals come with a royalty advance paid to the author before the book comes out.
Although there is often a royalty advance with traditional publishing, the royalty rates once the book is released are invariably much lower than they are for self-published books, due to the resources that went into creating the book. Authors also generally lose a significant amount of creative control over their projects, because contracts for payment often also mean authors sign away many of the rights associated with the project that can make it more difficult to send the book down new avenues in the future--avenues that would likely mean additional streams of revenue. Finally, traditional publishing is slow. Even after finding an agent, writers aren’t promised a book deal and finding a publisher that both wants to publish their work and is also a good fit for the work takes a great deal of time.
The biggest thing to note is that, in publishing, there’s no “one size fits all.” Many writers today have some combination of the two options, depending on the project and their particular goals for that project. If your goal is to be considered for literary prizes, then traditional publishing would likely be the best fit. If you want a fast process so that you can start sharing and selling your book as quickly as possible, then self-publishing would probably be the best option.
At Night Heron Media, we're happy to offer a hybrid publishing system, meaning our organization uses some of the best elements found in both self-publishing and hybrid publishing for authors. This includes offering marketing and distribution as well as printing and binding.
Have more questions about the type of publishing Night Heron offers? Check out our “Publishing Services” on our website or contact us and we’ll be happy to help!