Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing

If you are in the process of writing a book you have probably looked into how you are publishing it, which can be even more challenging than writing the book itself. Have no fear, we are here to help! Today we are going to go over some key differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing to help you decide which route is best for you and your business!


How it all works

Here we are going to go over the definitions of both routes of publishing; they are both effective and neither option is wrong, but it is important that you are well informed of the differences and what you are responsible for either way.

Traditional publishing

When you decide to go down the path of traditional publishing, you are selling the rights to your book. There is often an upfront payout that is also known as an advance. After this payout, the publisher is the only entity that is allowed to profit from the book, meaning that you cannot have more than one publisher, and they are responsible for all distribution of the book. 

The publisher that purchases the rights to your book will have their own marketing plan, take over all responsibilities of publishing, and control sales. They will be responsible for final editing, layouts, cover design, and anything beyond the actual writing of the book. They also get the final say on the retail pricing of the book.


Self-publishing is a much more involved process where you, the author, see the entire process through from writing, to publishing and marketing, and sales. You are in charge of all responsibilities including book elements and distribution. 

If you choose to self-publish you will keep 100% of the royalties from your book, but you will also be responsible for any costs associated with getting your book printed and distributed.



When you are deciding between self-publishing and traditional publishing one of the major deciding factors will be the amount of responsibility you are willing to take on. With less responsibility comes less control over final decisions and profits. Let’s go over those differences.

Traditional publishing

If you are looking to write the book and be done, then traditional publishing might be the way to go. When choosing to find a publisher to take over you are deciding that you do not want the added responsibilities of creating a book cover, final edits, establishing distribution, and layouts. They also have control of the publishing timeline; meaning that your book may or may not be published at a time that is ideal for you and your business. Right now, many publishers are experiencing delays. All of these aspects to book publishing cost time and money. 

Choosing to go with a publisher can lessen the amount of work you have to do in order to get your book in the hands of your readers.

It is important to note that there will still be work that you need to do. While the publisher will market your book, there will still be marketing that you need to do in order to increase sales!


If you decide you are up for the challenge, self-publishing can be a very rewarding journey! Many people can become overwhelmed when they dive into self-publishing because of all the decisions they have to make in regards to nailing down all of the details. You also get to take control over the timeline that your publishing process follows. Having to hire and rely on others can impact the time it take to get your book published but if there is a problem, you can resolve the issue and get back on track!

Any aspect of the publishing process that you cannot do yourself, such as a designer for your book cover, will be added costs. However, the benefit of self-publishing is that you get the final say in all of the decisions.


Marketing goals

One crucial aspect to publishing that varies greatly between the two options is marketing. How your book is marketed is an important part of your journey as an author and how your business grows. 

Traditional publishing

Traditional publishers’ main goal in marketing is to sell your book and recover the costs that they have invested. It is important to note that you will also have to do your own marketing that is separate from your publishers in order to increase sales. 


When you self-publish you can focus not only on sales and revenue, but on growing your business and audience. You can market your book and your business at the same time to not only sell the book but sell your business as well.



Probably one of the most confusing pieces of the puzzle for many authors is: where do the sales come from and where does the money go? 

Traditional publishing

Traditional publishing means that you have no control over where your book is sold or the retail price. It can be hard to tell how well your book is selling because you may not receive any royalties.


In the self-publishing realm, you get to choose the cost at which your book is sold and you get all royalties from each sale from the stores you choose to distribute it with. This can make it easier to keep track of how your book is selling.

Publishing a book can be a daunting task, but making the right call as to how it is published is a crucial part of being an author. If you are considering publishing a book and need some guidance, reach out to us so we can help you on your journey to becoming an author!