Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: The Summary

Since May 2014, I’ve written 16 posts to help a writer with his first manuscript choose between traditional publishing and self-publishing. I’m bringing the blog series to a close with a summary of what I’ve considered.

A few initial thoughts.

The blog series and summary assume that a writer who chooses to self-publish will hire a qualified editor and cover designer. It’s hard to imagine a writer who is serious about building a readership not doing so. Also, the series and summary are for unpublished writers, not writers who’ve previously worked with traditional publishers. However, a previously published writer might find the summary useful in thinking about what to do with a dying back list or a new book the publisher isn’t interested in.

Of course, my evaluation of the criteria to choose between traditional publishing and self-publishing is, to a significant extent, personal and therefore subjective. Readers may have different assessments or think I’ve missed some criteria entirely. The main idea of the summary, though, is to give a first-time writer some guideposts when thinking about publishing options.

Finally, publishing is changing fast and parts of the summary could be out of date quickly. The summary will be most useful to writers who consider it in the context of the most recent trends in the publishing industry.

And here’s the summary. “Top income” is my speculation because there’s poor data and “Average income” is trends based on recent U.K. and Canadian writer surveys (see my blog here).

Criteria

Acceptance

Top income

Average income

Advances

Upfront costs

Quality of help

Distribution

Time to market

Promotional help

Press reviews

Control

Contract

Discoverability

Achievement

Traditional

⇑⇑⇑

⇑⇑⇑ ?

⇑⇑

Varies

⇑⇑⇑

⇑⇑⇑

Self

⇑⇑

⇑⇑ ?

?

Varies

⇑⇑

⇑⇑

⇑⇑

⇑⇑

Thanks!

I will be taking a few weeks off from blogging. Back again in late September!

Copyright © 2015 Peter Fritze

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