Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: Considerations Beyond Money

Which path to choose?
Which path to choose?

This post is part of my series on whether a first time writer, someone with a completed manuscript, should consider traditional/legacy publishing or self-publishing.

In previous posts, I blogged that self-publishing is well-accepted, and that, given the difficulty of earning a living wage from writing, it’s important to enjoy each milestone in creating a manuscript.

In addition, I discussed a recent report that suggests it’s easier to earn a living wage from self-publishing than traditional publishing. It’s important to remember, though, that few fiction writers earn even the low threshold of a living wage. For another recent and sobering study on author earnings, see “What are Words Worth Now?” from the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society in the United Kingdom.

However, the decision whether to pursue traditional or self-publishing is not only about dollars and cents. There are many other legitimate considerations to throw into the mix. My aim in the next posts in this series is to flesh them out.

What I’m going to review are considerations like:

  • Will working with an agent and a traditional publisher produce a better work of fiction?
  • Does the traditionally published author enjoy more prestige than the self-published author?
  • Is the lifestyle of a traditionally published author or a self-published author better?
  • Which terms of a traditional publishing contract (like advances) give an advantage over self-publishing?
  • Which contract terms are burdensome?
  • How important is speed to market for a book?
  • Which path is better for distribution in international markets and for sales of film and other rights?

If there are other considerations you’d liked noted or discussed, please leave a comment!

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