What is the Difference Between
Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing?
Generally, there are two approaches to getting your book published—through a traditional publisher or through publishing the work yourelf.
The term traditional publisher originally referred to an entity that handled mass distribution of printed works, but its role in the digital age has now expanded to include not only printed books but also digital e-books and audio formats. The process handled by the publisher includes copy editing, production, printing (or preparing digital equivalents) and marketing and distribution. The company pays the author to acquire the rights to and produce his or her book.
When the author himself or herself performs these tasks or pays others to perform the tasks, it’s called self-publishing. In addition, there are hybrid publishers—those who perform some but not all the publishing tasks for the author.
While every publisher’s services will vary, here are some key differences in the two approaches.
A traditional publisher
- Requires the author to sign an exclusive licensing agreement in which the publisher buys the right to produce and distribute the work.
- Usually Pays the author an up-front fee
- Pays the author royalties based on a percentage of sales
- Handles all of the details of the book’s distribution, including packaging pricing, promotion and arranges for order fulfillment through wholesalers and retailers and book returns.
- Handles all the accounting and periodically sends the author royalty payments
- Often takes longer to produce than a self-published book.
A self-published author
- Keeps all rights to the title
- Must handle all the details of producing the book, including cover design and layout, and pricing.
- Has the book correctly formatted for print and or e-books
- Distributes the title to online to retail sales channels and tracks sales, or hires someone to do certain tasks ala carte.
- Manages his or her own accounting and book returns.
- Can often get the book to market quicker because the author is the main decision-maker.
So-called vanity publishers or hybrid publishers will require the author to pay an up-front fee to have the publisher package and distribute the book, while the author retains rights to the work.
There are some exceptions to these points. For example, Amazon requires exclusivity in one of its publishing programs, but not the other.
What Is the Best Way for You to Get Your Book Published?
How can you decide whether to go the traditional route or to self-publish? Here are a few thoughts.
Traditional publishing may be for you if:
- You have had your book professionally edited
- You have taken the time to search for and land a literary agent who can represent your book to the traditional houses.
- Are willing to take editors’ suggestions for revisions
- Have realistic expectations about how much money you will make
- Have a solid promotional platform, such as a large website, speaking schedule, existing record of book sales or are a known celebrity.
- Are willing to wait for one to two years to see the book in print.
- Are willing to self-promote like crazy, even though a traditional publisher should be doing the job.
- Don’t mind turning over the rights to your book.
Self-publishing may be for you if:
- Are an unknown author without a “platform,” i.e. large following of readers
- You have a highly targeted audience. For example, if you have written a guideline book for firemen and you have been active in the National firefighters’ organization, then you may have a built-in audience that you can more easily reach.
- You are technically pretty savvy and have a lot of patience.
- Have submitted to at least 20 traditional publishers and have been turned down by all.
- Believe you are the next Stephen King and have the greatest story on earth to tell.
- You really do have a unique story to tell and write well
- Want to get a book to market quickly.
- Are passionate about promoting your book to the world, but want to keep ownership.
If you have decided self-publishing is for you, get started now!
Authorlink® Publishing Services:
All the professional publishing services you need right here!
Start creating right here, right now! At Authorlink, you learn the ropes from experts, holding your hand through the entire self-publishing process while we do the work–from design and formatting, assigning ISBN numbers and book industry codes, e-book conversion, print on demand file preparation, distribution strategies and more.
The Authorlink difference: Our publishing unit is a publishing service, not a publisher per se. Vanity or hybrid publishers charge hefty fees for managing your publishing accounts once the production process is completed. Instead, at Authorlink we show you how to take maximum control over your own publishing experience with ease. You keep the extra money. This is true self-publishing with a little help from us.
Every book is different. Every author is different. Your publishing journey should be customized just for you. Yes, there is more to publishing than uploading a fiction or nonfiction file to Amazon and hoping for results under the slush! We show you how. Your book is unique. Your publishing journey should be tailored just for you. It doesn’t cost more to do it our way; it costs less. We give you the tools you need to succeed. A wider world awaits your story, fiction or nonfiction book. Learn to publish on your own, and keep your rights.
Save 20% When You Order Both Services
Looking to publish digitally as well as in print? You save 20% off the final price when you order both services together! When you request a quote, you can choose to order one or both services.
Ala Carte Services
Don’t need the full e-book or print book package? Submit your manuscript using the form below and check the box or boxes that best fit your needs.
Scanning and Typing of Older Books
Books published before the digital age can be repurposed for today’s marketplace. We will scan your original or out-of-print book and then retype the text so that you can then proof the work and convert to an e-Pub or printed book. Prices are based on the number of pages and whether you send us the hard copy or whether you have already scanned the pages to a PDF file. Files are carefully proofed before you receive them, but you are responsible for the final proof. You don’t have to immediately convert the files for the marketplace, in case you want to update the text before converting. It’s your call.
Editing and Formatting Only
We can format the interior text block of your book and edit it for compatibility (not an editorial service) with conversion specifications for ePub and Print-on-Demand. Pricing is based on the number of pages and the complexity of the job.
Cover Design Only
If all you need is a cover design, submit a summary of your manuscript and the genre in which it fits, add comments on any ideas you have for the cover, and check the appropriate box on the submission form and we’ll shoot you a price.
E-Book Distribution Consulting Only
We do not distribute books for you; we guide you through the process. Our hourly rate for helping you to devise your distribution plan is $60 per hour, billed as incurred.
File Uploading to Client Account
We can upload your book to your existing retail accounts if you provide us with your ID and password. The fee is $30 per book title per sales channel such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Note: We may not be able to upload your title to iBooks.