The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing

bookshelfIt’s pretty safe to say, that basically all English majors dream of publishing a book one day. We spend our whole lives sitting in front of a computer screen or writing in multiple notebooks, hoping that maybe our words will reach an audience. The question is, where do we start? I’d like to think that my words would have some effect on the general public, but the risk of assuming is one that involves great consequence. So I must choose the best method for me; self-publishing or traditional publishing.

On one hand, self-publishing is a great new way for aspiring authors to get their books out quickly, and with the development and rise of e-books, they can easily hit the market without business officials and executives as middle men. E-books have swept the nation with their inexpensive prices and variety of options. A few years ago, one of the nation’s bestselling books, Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James, started out as a simple self-published e-book, but eventually expanded into a million dollar franchise, complete with hardcopy editions, sequels, and future movie adaptations. Sites like Lulu, Blurb, and Booksurge are popular among aspiring authors because they offer the best of both worlds—hardcopy editions for purchase as well as e-book editions to download off Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a fairly inexpensive price. Authors can also go to a company to self-publish, and by doing so they receive monthly payments and great royalty rates. It is an effective way to have control over all aspects of the process (editing, pricing, marketing, the works). But like all things great, there’s a downside. Self-Published books have a lower chance of hitting the market than books produced by big publishing houses due to the lack of proper management and money power. (Typically) Self-published book sales just aren’t up to standard, and it can really hurt your personal finances as a result.

If you don’t have the funds to self-publish, or if you feel like your book might need some marketing help, then strive for traditional publishing. Major publishing companies such as Random House, Simon and Schuster Scholastic, and HarperCollins produce most of the books in America. There are also publishing companies specific to genre such as Zondervan which produces Christian books and Bibles, and there are local publishers such as our press that cater to the regional area. Any of these places are willing to work with authors and writers; it’s just a matter of impressing them and adhering to their high standards. As a new writer, it might seem hard entering a company that publishes James Patterson or Stephen King, but if you can grab their attention, then it’s possible that your book will become a success. Larger companies have the money and marketing power, as well as top editors, professional cover artists, and greater success rates. But here too, these benefits come at a cost; the executives will have full control of cost, detail, editing changes, and ultimately your voice (because now it’s their voice too).

The world is full of books, one more creative than the next. When deciding what route to take, consider the pros and cons, an just remember no matter what type of writer you aspire to be, your voice can be heard.