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April 28, 2013 / anthonykzullo

Self-Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing


Photo by Riff Raff

Why self-publish?  Going on this journey as an indie novelist, I have looked over the different benefits that self-publishing has over traditional publishing.  Here is a list of both pros and cons to self-publishing so you can decide what kind of journey you want to take.

Pros to Self-Publishing

·         You Get to Choose Everything

When you deal with traditional publishing, you’ll have to work with a lot of different professionals, and everyone is going to have their own idea of what your book should be.  You won’t have a lot of say on cover work, especially if you’re a new author, and your editor might change your entire story.  When you self-publish, you get to choose what cover you want, and you get to choose what is in the final product of your book.  Basically, you get to retain the vision that you set out with when you first started writing your book.  You even get to say how much you want to charge for your book and where you want it sold.

·         You Don’t Have to Impress Anyone

Unlike traditional publishing, you don’t have to fight your way to someone’s desk.  Publishers have tons and tons of manuscripts sent to them.  They don’t have time to read everything that is sent their way.  A lot of books end up as flops, too.  Because of this, they avoid any really risky book in favor of what they think will sell.  As a self-published author, you can write whatever you want and publish it.  Whether it is about a Mormon Covenant versus the Mexican Cartel or about a poodle that ends up a superhero, no one has the ability to tell you what you can or cannot do.

·         You Can Publish Right Now

While I don’t recommend publishing a novel until after it’s been through a few drafts and proofread by a professional, you do have the power to publish your novel whenever you choose to do so, which is unlike traditional publishing that could take years to finally have your novel out to the public.

Cons to Self-Publishing

·         You Have to Do Everything

While it’s a boon that you get to choose everything about your novel, this also means that no one is really there to help you.  In self-publishing, you are more than just an author.  You become a marketer, a cover designer, an editor, a proofreader, a publicist, and more.  Unless you hire out and fork over a lot of money, you’ll be in the same boat.  Of course, you can hire a friend to do some of the work for you.  Just make sure that their work is professional enough.  You don’t want a proofreader who is going to miss half of all the grammar mistakes.

·         It’s Time Consuming

Because you have to do everything and don’t have a team of professionals to help you, you’ll be spending a lot of your time doing other things besides writing.  I once read something about Amanda Hocking, a legendary self-publishing author, who used to say that she would spend forty hours a week doing marketing and extra things to sell her novels.  Self-publishing is not an easy feat.  It requires time and patience.

·         You Probably Won’t Be on the Shelves in Your Local Bookstore

It’s not very likely that you’ll be in bookstores so you can save your money on that cross country book tour.  Most of your fans will only find you online, meaning that your reach won’t be as big as if you had gone traditionally.  This is because bookstores get a substantial discount when purchasing books from traditional publishers, which they don’t generally receive from independent authors.

As you can see there are some clear benefits and disadvantages when it comes to self-publishing.  One more thing I want to note before ending this article is that once you self-publish, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go back and traditionally publish your book.  In fact, if you’re doing really well, a traditional publisher might come up to you and ask permission to publish your book.  This is one of the times you get an agent, and then you get to see the benefits of both worlds.

So what do you guys think?  Do you have other pros and cons to add the list?  Let me know in the comments.


Anthony Zullo is a novel writer who aims to self-publish his book in late 2013 or early 2014 The Guardian’s Charge:  Book I of the Bloodborn Series, which is a paranormal/dark urban fantasy about what happens when the six alien Gods of Niburu return to Earth to decide the fate of all Life.  To follow his pondering thoughts and to communicate with him, check out his twitter @anthonykzullo.


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