Self Published vs. Traditional Publishing

book and candle

In no time in history have there been so many writers hoping to publish, but the amount of readers is about the same. Traditionally, writers would submit their work to a publisher, possibly many times over, hoping that their book would become a best seller. Now, however, the vast majority of writers go the self-publishing route. In this blog, I will spell out the differences between the two, and you can decide for yourself which route is best. Regardless of how you choose, you have to first write the book. Obvious, I know, but that has to be done first, regardless of which method you choose.

Self-publishers: People who publish a book on his/her own.


You are in complete control of the creation of your book. Only you and the people you hire can change what is in your book. You are also in complete control of exactly how the book looks, what type of advertising you pursue with it and whether your book is edited or not and by whom.


You pay for everything out of pocket.for everything. This includes hiring an editor, creating the cover,  advertising, getting known on social media, and touting the book. No one is really there to help you. A self-published author often doesn’t know the price or the order of necessity when it comes to what they must do. There are publishing houses who cater directly to such a person. Self publishers sometimes go to these places for help in one or more of these areas, but, of course, you have to pay for their services which will often cost 30-40% more than if you did it yourself. Self-published authors sometimes spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on the cover art but complain to an editor about how costly they are. A cover may draw a reader in, but if you make errors or your story is not understood by your audience, you can’t expect any sympathy from the reader.  Also, the odds are against you when it comes to “making it big”. Most self-publishers don’t make enough from their creation to reimburse themselves. I’m not saying it can’t, but it is not very common

Traditional Authors: Authors who pursue a “traditional” way of publishing: This is the way it was done before computers made it so “easy” to self-publish. The author sends or emails their product a “brick and mortar” publisher with the hopes of getting it published.


If an author is given a publishing contract by a traditional publisher, they often give the author an advance. This is given prior to the book actually being published, and it is usually several hundred dollars. They do this because they work in the industry and know what is most likely to sell. In addition, the publisher will foot the bill for editors, proofreaders, cover artists and advertising for the book. Most of the time, you have to agree that you will work to promote your book with interviews, book signings and the like, but they will pay for most of it.


It sometimes takes a very long time to find a publisher who will give serious consideration to a new author with a new book. Sometimes, it is more luck than talent. Maybe they are committed to publishing 150 books for the year, and you just happened to be 151. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. Less than 3% of authors procure a contract on their first try. Often, they will try many times before they are officially published. Due to this, you should probably have an editor look at it prior to sending it out. You want to make the best impression you can. My favorite author, Piers Anthony, submitted to publishers for close to 10 years before making it.

Another thing. You sometimes have to relinquish some of the ownership of your book. If they edit your book and change important info, you can argue your point with them, but unless you come to an agreement with them, what they say goes. That includes the title of the book. Many, many authors have said that their worst enemy is their editor.

If you should need an editor or want more advice prior to publishing or submitting your book to publishers, I can help you with that! Feel free to reach out and ask, and if I cannot answer I surely know someone who can.