A while back we published a blog post detailing some of the best ways to get your work out there. If you read it, you might have found yourself wondering which option is best for you. Quite often, the answer to that question boils down to two possible choices: self-publishing or traditional publishing.
But what’s the difference between the two? And which is the better path to take? Keep reading as we break down the ins and outs of the publishing world and weigh the pros and cons of the two most widely chosen paths.
What is Traditional Publishing? What is Self-Publishing?
Having your work traditionally published means that someone else —usually a publishing house or literary journal—will take care of everything that comes after you finish writing your book. That includes formatting, design, sales, and marketing.
For ages, traditional publishing has been viewed as the go-to route for any author wishing to achieve success and literary prestige. Over the past few years, however, things have been steadily changing as more and more authors turn to self-publishing.
When you decide to self-publish, it means you’re deciding to take on all the roles of a publishing house—printing, distributing, and marketing your own work.
The rise of online publishing services like Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and the recently launched Kindle Vella has made self-publishing much easier (and more profitable) for aspiring authors.
So which route is better? Well, there is no straightforward answer. But to help you make a decision, here are the pros and cons of both.
The Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishing
Being traditionally published has a multitude of benefits. First and foremost it means that an experienced team (or teams) with all the necessary skills and knowledge at their disposal will be in charge of publishing your work. They will also take on any of the costs that come with publishing.
It also means a greater chance of exposure, as publishing houses usually already have a large reach and more connections that can help you get your work seen.
The downside? Getting a publishing house to accept your manuscript might take a bit—or a lot—of work. Many publishing houses only accept manuscripts through literary agents. (Still, many do accept direct submissions from writers, like Peepal Tree Press.)
The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing
The main reason many writers choose the self-publishing route is, you guessed it, freedom (and money too, but more on that in a moment).
Through self-publishing, authors maintain full creative control of their work. If you choose to self-publish, you get to decide when and how your book is published, how it’s marketed, and so on.
Self-published authors also get to take home most of the profit rather than having to pay the publisher. Publishing platforms like KDP will take a share of your sales, but at the end of the day you end up taking home much more than you would in royalties with a traditional publisher.
Becoming a self-published author, however, also means taking on all the roles of a traditional publishing house. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do it all—you can enlist the help of professional editors, cover designers, and proofreaders. What it does mean though, is that you might have to invest a bit of money into your work. And so, despite earning you more royalties, self-publishing is a lot more expensive than traditional publishing.
So Which Route Do I Choose?
Here in Belize, most authors choose the self-publishing route, as traditional publishers in the country are few and far between. If you’d prefer to not take on all the responsibilities of publishing, however, there are a few places you could turn to.
The Image Factory Belize occasionally offers Hybrid Publishing services. There’s also Reynolds Desktop Publishing and Cubola Publishers. And recently, Literary Journal and Publishing House Bent Pin Press has also stepped up to the plate in the hopes of providing Belizean writers a place to showcase their work.
At the end of the day, whether you decide to do it all on your own or to take a shot at pitching to a Traditional Publisher, there isn’t really a right choice. It all depends on you. But regardless of which you choose, with enough effort, you too can see your work published.