When To Go With a Traditional Publisher and When To Go Indie

in publishing •  3 years ago 



This past Tuesday I wrote a post on the pros and cons of traditional publishing. I also listed the pros and cons of indie or self-publishing. Here we'll break down when is the best time or circumstance to use either and how you can leverage both systems. Check out https://steemit.com/publishing/@leahlindeman/publishing-options-what-s-the-right-fit-for-you to see the first part in this two part series.

 When To Be Traditionally Published 

1. If you just want to write, this is for you. You don't want to deal with the brunt work of marketing or have to pitch TV, radio, and/or newspapers so that the whole world knows you've written a book. You'd rather stay in you hobbit hole and write to your heart's content. 

2. If you suffer with self-doubt, this is a good validation ticket. Sure you may have to go through fifty even hundreds of rejections (at least fifty is normal); but when you catch the whale, you'll know for a certainty that someone believes in your work as much as you do. 

3. If you want the whole world to get a copy of your book, go with one of the big five: HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Random House, Machete Book Group, Macmillan Publishers. If you can settle for a little less than the whole world, here's a good set that will establish you far and wide: Thomas Nelson, Tyndale, Wiley, Harlequin (Canadian). 

4. You get opportunities falling in your lap if you get traditionally published. Doesn't mean it can't happen if you go indie. Just means it's a whole lot easier and probably faster once your book is out there. 

5. If you don't have creative scope for anything other than your book, sign with a traditional publisher. You won't have to worry about the cover, book trailer, synopsis, and so on. They'll gladly do it for you. 

When To Self-Publish 

1. If you want to write for a specific niche, self-publish. You'll have a hard time finding a traditional publisher that will publish niche books because they won't sell as many copies as a main genre book would. Remember it's a business for them, and they have to make money.

 2. If you're the type of person who loves to learn and teach themselves new skills (a.k.a. me!), then self-publish. As I mentioned in part one of this series, I learned how to format, market, make a book trailer, pitch traditional media, and etc.

 3. If you want to have total creative control, keep to this path. You won't have an editor breathing manuscript changes down your neck. You get to decide the title, cover, everything! This works if you're a pretty confident person. 

4. You've got the whole book ready. You've combed over every detail. If you self-publish, you can have your book out in a day, two tops. You can set your own pace. Talk about control!

 5. Going this route, you will get higher royalties. Now whether you'll make more money this way or whether you'll make more traditionally published is debatable. Depends on a lot of factors. At least, you'll know that most of the money of your hard work is going into your pocket and not a business's. 

Use Both 

The great thing about this whole dilemma is that you can use both! I hope this doesn't confuse you. Each book you write has its own needs. Your needs and wants might change with the timing of your life and circumstances. So whatever stage you're at, look over the list above and ask yourself which suits you right now. 

If you've been published either way, what were the factors that made you decide to go a certain way? 

I decided to self-publish because I had a good mentor (self-published) along the way; I was confident in my abilities to pull it off; total creative control had a beautiful ring to it; and my book was ready to be born into the world (the timing worked out perfectly since next year is the 100th anniversary of the Halifax Explosion). Want to see the first part of this two part series? Go here https://steemit.com/publishing/@leahlindeman/publishing-options-what-s-the-right-fit-for-you


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Yep, sounds about right. One thing writers should also consider is that they shouldn't expect to make huge amount of money from book sales. Books are a very harsh market and it may take a while before hitting a home run. Here is a great podcast from someone who's been a New York Times best sellers and it really shed light on how the cookie crumbles in that market for me: http://tomwoods.com/podcast/ep-234-all-about-publishing/

Thanks for the advices :-)

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Your welcome! I agree. Even I am not expecting huge sales during the first few years. Doesn't mean I'm not confident in my work; it's just reality.

Thank you for sharing the podcast! I'll be sure to take a listen sometime today.

This is a great article and these are sound advice. I'll make sure to direct people to your articles when I meet budding writers :-)

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Thank you for your support!