The publishing industry has had a massive shift in the last twenty to thirty years. Before, you could only call yourself a proper author if you had signed a deal with a traditional publishing company. The term “self-published author” has become much more common recently. Amazon has grown to be the marketplace for millions of books and, when you think about it, is still relatively new. Since officially starting in 1994, the platform is not even 30 years old. That being said, it has completely changed the literary industry and created new ways for authors to publish their books. There are many pros and cons to both self-publishing and traditional publishing. The choice to pursue one or the other depends on your unique circumstances and personal goals.
Why Traditional Publishing Might Be Better
Traditional publishing has a far wider reach right from the start. Publishing houses have strong relationships with bookstores (especially the big chains) and distributors. If you sign a deal with Harper Collins or Bloomsbury, it’ll be only days until your novel is available in dozens of bookstores across the country. Traditional publishing is great if you only like to write and not get involved in marketing or website design. Typically, these are aspects of being an author that one rarely wants to do. The term “author” has come to mean many different things in recent years. It refers to somebody who’s only written one book, as well as a writer who has ten books for sale. An author can be a business owner writing a book related to their pre-existing business, and it can be a side hustle adjacent to another career. Generally speaking, traditional publishing can be much more helpful to an author with limited time because publishing companies have a team of people ready to help with each step of the publishing process.
The Creative Freedom in Self-Publishing
There are more aspects to my business than just the books I sell. My website has a personality quiz, which can tell you what character you are most like. I also give authors presentations and maintain a blog. There is much more creative freedom when it comes to self-publishing. I can choose how I want to sell my books, where I want to sell them, and create a variety of freebies to offer to my customers. Working with a publishing house is much more structured and regulated. Once again, this might be great if you are looking for clear direction on the marketing and publishing process. This allows publishing companies to ensure the books they produce are on brand with their own company. But suppose you are looking to pave your own direction and constantly find yourself pivoting and changing your brand. In that case, self-publishing could be a better fit for you.
You Are Your Own Boss
For better or for worse, you are your own boss when you choose to self-publish. You are responsible for not only writing the books but also handling the formatting and printing of your books and the promotion. There are many available resources to help you, and there are likely many people in your inner circle willing to assist you along the way. Ultimately, though, it is up to you to figure out how. You, the author, book your own podcasts, interviews and events. Not only that, but you decide which ones were worth your time and which weren’t. Most authors also don’t have a background in marketing or know how to create a website. Learning these skills is necessary and could mean taking an online course or summit. I am currently taking a book marketing course called Author Platform 101 and enrolled in the Book-To-Script online summit. While it may seem daunting, being your boss also has some attractive benefits, such as making your own hours, traveling, and working from home.
Whether you should self-publish or pursue traditional publishing depends on your lifestyle, budget and goals. Only you can make that decision based on these factors. However, I recommend continuing to research all the different opportunities available to authors, including the types of publishing packages and costs involved. It’s essential to stay informed in any industry you are working in. But I hope you now realize the massive potential there is in self-publishing and why it is certainly worth considering.
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