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Author Series: Self vs Traditional Publishing

For the month of August, I'll be posting a series on publishing books for authors. We'll talk about editing your book so it appeals to readers, how to find your audience, and how to get the book into their hands.

Let's start with the two major routes of publishing and what they mean for your novel.

Until recently, traditional publishing was the only option for authors. If no publishers decided to take on their book, they had to give up. But with new technology bringing ebooks into popularity, self-publishing is becoming a preferable option to many new writers!

So, how do you decide which path is best for you and your novel?


Who is involved in publishing a book?

Although the author has the biggest job when it comes to publishing a novel, an entire team is often needed to get the book into readers' hands. If you go with a traditional publisher, they provide the team and resources needed. These people may be:

  • Editors

  • Proofreaders

  • Formatters

  • Graphic Designers

  • Marketers

  • Salespeople

  • And more!

Therefore, if you choose to self-publish, you have to either build that team with trusted freelancers, or become an expert at all of those jobs yourself! It can be done, but you have to be ready for lots of hard work.

Who is in control of your book?

A major benefit to self-publishing is having full control of your book. When you go with a traditional publisher, your book becomes their asset. Remember, a publishing house is a business, so they're not worried about your feelings - they're trying to make money!

Since the publisher's aim is to make sales, they might change your novel into something you're no longer happy with. You won't get to choose the cover or title, and you could even lose all copyright.

If you self-publish, you get to make all of these decisions. You can even create your own cover! But, that doesn't mean it will sell. Although giving up control of your book is difficult, publishers are the experts for a reason.

If you choose not to go with a publisher because you want to keep control, you'll need to make sure you build a great team on your own.

So, what does it cost to publish a book?

This is the main reason for self-publishing's popularity - the author gets to keep a significant amount more of their profits.

A traditional publisher, as mentioned before, takes over many of the publishing responsibilities. You should never pay a publisher to publish your book, as they take royalties. This means that for each book sale, you're only getting a small cut of the profits. And from that small cut, your agent will take about 10%.

If you publish your book alone, you retain full control, and keep all of your profits. However, this means many more upfront costs. You will have to pay your team of freelancers - and they aren't cheap. If you want to print your own copies and sell them, you'll have to pay for those copies, too.

So, either option can be a risk. Although self-publishing can work out in your favour, you have to be ready to work very hard and make many sacrifices for it to happen. If you choose to traditionally publish, make sure you have an agent who understands your needs and your vision for the book.


Could you handle the hustle of self-publishing? Contact me to chat about my author virtual assistant services.


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