Frequently, we encounter individuals who believe they can write a book, but how many think they can take on the laborious task of getting it published? In today’s world, though the process is complicated, it can indeed be manageable; this article will explore both traditional and contemporary means.

Traditional publishing involves the submission of a manuscript to multiple agents over a prolonged interval of time—usually with many rejections before it is accepted. The agencies, in turn, submit the manuscript to various publishers (again, with rejections over a lengthy period) before a contract is finally signed. The book then undergoes copyediting, proofreading, formatting, cover design, etc. and is eventually published. Although employing this method holds a degree of prestige if the book sells well, and the author is eligible for literary acclaim, the process is long and arduous, and the author’s proceeds are meager.

• Upfront money against royalty fees before the project commences
• Copyediting, proofreading, layout, and cover images are provided by a professional publishing team
• Efficient retail publicity
• Widespread outreach
• Possibility for literary acclaim

• Usually a few years before initial release
• Publishers do not allow for the author’s input into many of the significant decisions regarding the manuscript.
• Publishers take control of cover art and title.
• It is difficult for authors to make revisions.
• Publishers make insufficient use of marketing strategies.
• Authors are only compensated semi-annually.
• Tremendously high cost for the publication of ebooks
• Low royalty percentages (from 6% to 25%)
• Upfront money is “against” royalty fees.
• Tough to get started

Although many are unaware of it, there are two different types of self-publishing. One refers to submitting your text to a company that offers basic publishing packages (in 2015, ranging from $400 to $6000) including ISBN, copyright, designing/formatting, printing, and listing with retail sites. Additional services such as copy editing, proofreading, marketing, expanded distribution, etc. are handled by these same companies at separate costs. These extra fees are high, the companies are in control of most publishing aspects (like with traditional publishing), the companies frequently outsource their services to other countries (consequently, limited or no author input), there is no upfront money, and royalties can be even scanter than with traditional publishing. According to the author, Joanna Penn, “One of the biggest criticisms of self-publishing is the poor quality of the finished product…”

The second type of self-publishing is synonymous with Independent (a.k.a. Indie) publishing. It is a process through which publishers such as Amazon (CreateSpace), Kobo, iBooks, and others will upload your manuscript, cover, and ISBN, after which the book is constructed according to your preferences with only nominal upfront costs. In fact, CreateSpace will provide your ISBN for free. You have complete control over everything from the type of paper to retail price, and you, yourself, choose your editors, cover artists, etc. In other words, you pay only for the services you specifically designate others to complete, and a company like CreateSpace distributes the book and pays you; there is only one middleman. Here is a list of the advantages and disadvantages of indie publishing:

• Immediate publishing once nominal fees are paid
• Author is in control of sales costs and cover
• All decisions are the responsibility of the author
• Relatively simple to make revisions
• Royalty percentages are high (usually around 70%)
• Monthly remuneration
• Anyone who can pay the fees is eligible

• Expenditures for copyediting, proofreading, layout and cover images are the responsibility of the author.
• Generally, fewer purchase transactions
• Self-published books represent only 10% of the global book market.
• Greater possibility of publishing low-quality books
• Virtually no opportunity for literary acclaim

In summary, notwithstanding little probability for award-winning recognition, many of today’s authors are moving away from the traditional means of publishing in favor of the indie self-publishing platform, which allows for more control over the manuscripts and higher royalties.

Klems, Brian A. “The Pros and Cons of Self Publishing (& Traditional Publishing).” (accessed January 27, 2017).

The Creative Pen. “Pros And Cons Of Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing.” (accessed January 27, 2017).

Penn, Joanna. “Self-Publishing And The Definition Of An Indie Author.” (accessed January 28, 2017).


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