Pros & Cons: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

If you have been thinking about self-publishing, but you aren’t sure what the benefits actually are, then this is the perfect opportunity to weigh the pro and cons of each one. We’ll be looking at traditional publishing in details, including the advantages and disadvantages, and then face them off with the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing. So let’s talk about how to publish a book.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing simply means submitting your book to publishers via an agent or through the publisher’s submission process. Generally, publishers will sign a contract with you and pay you some sort of an advance. This will likely not be much for a first-time author, and how much you actually get will depend upon the size of the publisher and the genre that your book is in. Some publishers do not do advances at all. From there, the publisher will publish and distribute your book, typically six months to a year after you sign the contract, and then you will be sent royalties every quarter.

Pros of Traditional Publishing

  • You may get an advance up front before your book sells a single copy.
  • You will be automatically listed in industry catalogs and possibly available in bookstores.
  • Your publisher will be willing to give a higher advance next book if this one sells well.
  • You get the distinction of being a published author and respected within the industry.
  • You will have a much easier time getting an agent if you have a contract for a book deal.

Cons of Traditional Publishing

  • You have to sign rights to your book over to the publisher.
  • Your royalties are going to be somewhere between 10 percent and 15 percent most likely.
  • You do not have any creative control when it comes to book covers and blurbs,
  • You may have to change your book in many ways to meet the publisher’s guideline.


Self-publishing is simply the act of publishing the book yourself either by creating your own publishing company, using a paid vanity press or by using any of the free or nearly free platforms out there for self-publishing a book. The advantages and disadvantages that we will be covering refer mostly to the third option here.

Pros of Self-Publishing

  • You get a much higher royalty.
  • You own the rights to your book at all times.
  • You are able to pull the book from the shelves if you want, make corrections and republish is another edition.
  • You have creative control over everything to do with your book.

Cons of Self-Publishing

  • You will have a much harder time getting listed in the industry catalogs such as Ingram and Baker and Taylor.
  • You will not have the power of the major publishing company behind you.
  • You will have to pay for services like editing or book cover design yourself.
  • Any mistakes that are made, or any legal problems that arise over publication of your book will be yours to deal with alone.

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