What is the difference between Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing?
There are many ways to publish a book but what is the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing? How will I know which one is for me? Read on and I will briefly outline the main differences.
In traditional publishing, the publisher or publishing company screens books for quality and sales potential and then, at its own cost, controls and pays for editing, design, marketing, promotion, sales and distribution. The author does not have to pay for anything, receives a royalty on sales, which is a small percentage of book sales, but no longer owns the rights nor does he have creative or financial control. As it is the publisher’s decision as to whether a book is taken on or not, the author must spend time pitching his book to established publishing houses: this can be time-consuming and difficult and may not result in the book being accepted.
The advantage to the author is that once the book has been written the author can hand it over to the publisher to bring it to publication, usually with minimal involvement from the author, and, as mentioned, at no cost to the author. However, in recent years, authors need to involve themselves more and more in the publicising the book, and for a book to do well it will usually need to involve the author working on his own social media profile and presence – unless of course you are a celebrity and have a ready-made audience, and let’s face it most authors are not and do not.
When an author decides to publish his own book, self-publish, he becomes the publisher, thereby undertaking all of the publishing processes at his own expense, while maintaining the rights, creative control and financial control of the book. Many of these processes can be included or bypassed in the self-publishing model – though not advisable to bypass them.
Unlike a traditional publishing house, the self-publisher will not have a team of publishing professionals, e.g. editors, designers, proofreaders, to hand, however there is a huge variety of companies offering services to authors who wish to self-publish: “A burgeoning ecosystem of supporting services has sprung up to serve independent authors. There are companies that handle one step – or all of them – along the way: editing, marketing, design, distribution, and publicity.” (Jenifer Alesever, 2017). Of course, these services will be an advance cost to the author, but at the other end, earnings from the book sales will belong solely to the author, who has now become publisher.
Self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted, but then again neither is writing. Both require grit and determination, but can be hugely rewarding both creatively and financially.
“Siobhán is a highly experienced publishing professional offering the full suite of services for authors and publishers alike. It was a pleasure to work with her on a recent project and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her, and look forward to working with her again.”
Conor Graham, Publisher, Irish Academic Press