Publishing books yourself or embarking on a traditional publishing route - it's a big decision for any author. There are pros and cons to both, but it's up to you to determine which would be more worthwhile in the long run. Mixam has worked with thousands of self-publishers and publishing companies - so we're no stranger to both!
To help you make the right choice, we're going to unpack what these two kinds of publishing entail:
Many favor the freedom that self-publishing offers. It also means the ownership and publishing rights remain with you. Regarding your book's design, you can collaborate with graphic designers, proofreaders and editors, or do it all yourself. But as a self-publisher, you tend to undertake all the duties a publishing house would handle. Tasks will, for example, include the printing, distribution and marketing of your book.
Traditional publishing means you work with a publishing house to publish and promote your book. It will be their job to market and sell your book in the most effective ways possible. However, there's no guarantee that you'll secure a publishing deal, and you may have to pass a few gatekeepers before your book is even considered for publishing. But essentially, you provide the product - then, if they believe your book has potential, they will use their resources and connections to get your book on the market in exchange. You'll work with a broad range of people, from designers to editors. You'll also gain royalties for every book sold, and the publishing house pays for all the production costs.
But we're sure you're going to ask which is better? Well, let's discuss some key factors that could impact your decision:
Let's not gloss over the reality - self-publishing is more expensive than traditional publishing, mainly because you have to finance your publishing journey yourself. However, platforms like Kickstarter are frequently used to pitch projects if you're looking for funding. And if you have a large online following, you'll likely have more support when you introduce your project. Even though you get professional help when working with a publishing house, once you've released your project and start selling your work, every penny you make is yours - no need to share and divide!
Would you rather trust someone else to make most of the decisions about your book, or would you prefer to take the reins? Self-publishing a book means you have total control over how and when you publish - from the publication date to the book cover art. Plan it well, and you will reap the rewards later. But leave this to a publishing house, and you can avoid the stress and worry that comes with planning a new book release. You may not 100% agree with everything the publisher does, but with your feedback, the publisher will make the final call and figure out what's best for your publication.
As a self-publisher, you will have the flexibility to choose when to publish your book. You also have a range of many online platforms to choose from to sell your book, like Amazon. With traditional publishing, you can do all the hard work and secure a deal but have to wait until the publishers give the go-ahead to release your title. Reasons for delays could include last-minute edits, spacing out big release dates, and although rare, your publication date could be postponed indefinitely. So unless you're prepared to wait longer for a potentially bigger return, it's best to avoid this option.
Publicity is a huge part of a book's success. Publishing houses have a team of publicists who have great connections with the media. Speaking to national newspapers, magazines, journalists and agents, they will ensure your book gets in front of the right people. They can then choose to showcase your work on platforms on and offline, hopefully with a large following or readership. If you choose the self-publishing route, it's tougher to secure the right exposure for your book. You'd need to be prepared to undertake the work yourself, but the potential for establishing yourself as an author and your book isn't impossible.
There may not be a straightforward answer to whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is better. But at least we've discussed key elements to help you decide! While self-publishing means you're in charge of every part of the publishing process and every penny you make is yours, working with a publishing house means a professional team do most of the work for you, and your book can reach more people. Whatever you decide, we'll be ready to provide professional, store-quality books to jump-start your publishing journey.
If you have a project you'd like to discuss in more detail, contact our print experts by email, phone or in the Messages tab of your Mixam account for pending orders.
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