22 Dec 2021

Traditional publishing Vs Self-publishing

Traditional publishing Vs Self-publishing

A book starts with an idea. Then you have to hone it, research about it, build paragraphs and chapters around it—before you can claim to have written a manuscript. And even then, there’s a lot of editing and reading to do (on your own), before you can start the grueling process of finding a publisher.


There are two ways to go about publishing a book you’ve spent so many days and months writing. There are traditional publishing companies—who pay the authors for their books—and self-publishing companies—who charge authors to help them print their book. 


But which one do you want to choose for your novel? Here are a few points to help you make that decision. 


Timeframe for getting the book published: 

In a traditional publishing house, there’s a long process of selection, editing and marketing—that often takes months—before a book gets to be published. Even before that, it takes months and years to find a publisher who’d be ready to publish your book. Sometimes, you might not find anyone willing to take up your manuscript.

But in the case of self-publishing companies, you only need to submit your manuscript to them, pay according to the many packages they may have, and have printed book ready in a month’s time. 

Traditional publishers usually bank on well-known authors:

Since traditional publishers make money through the sale of the books, they often choose those authors who are bankable or well-known—who will most definitely bring in a lot of sales. They are less likely to stick their neck out for writers who are yet to prove their mettle in the field.

A self-publisher will not look at who is established and who is upcoming; they will make a book out of any and every manuscript that is presented to them. In this sense, if a debut novelist is finding it difficult to get a traditional publisher’s attention, it might be a good idea to contact a self-publishing house and see where it takes them.


Not all genres are in vogue; not all books are published in traditional publishing:

As mentioned before, traditional publishing houses make decisions on which author to take on solely depending on the potential sales that particular book might bring in. Since the market has such a huge role to play in the selection of the manuscript, it also has a huge role to play in which genres are in vogue and are the most marketable. 

Sometimes the writing may be excellent but the subject matter might not have a huge potential audience—this could lead to the book being rejected by the publisher. 

Such an issue would not arise while self-publishing, where one can publish any sort of book they want.


A majority of submissions at a traditional publishing house is stuck in the slush pile:

Traditional publishers are usually the ones who have been in business for a long time, and have garnered respect and power in the field. Therefore, every author dreams of publishing a book with them. Unfortunately, when everyone is thinking of the same thing, it means that there will be a lot of competition. And there will be piles and piles of submissions (called the ‘slush pile’) on the editor’s desk. Majority of these submissions will get rejected since only a select few can be published at a certain time.

But if things work out with a self-publishing firm, then the author does not need to worry about any such pile. After your select the kind of package you want, your manuscript is instantly put on the road of publishing. 


You may need an agent to get accepted by a traditional publishing house:


Since the competition is great, authors often have to seek the help of agents, who have contacts of their own in the publishing world, to help them seek a traditional publisher. The agent will work on the behalf of the author, ensuring that the best deal is struck, but even getting an agent to represent your book is a tough process. Some may even say it’s as tough as getting a traditional publisher to accept your manuscript.

With a self-publishing company, all you need to do is call or e-mail them, and enquire about the various packages… and very soon you’ll be signing a contract with them. It’s as simple as that!


You are in control of the entire publishing process when working with a self-publisher: 

Since the market is such a crucial entity in the traditional publishing world, there are times when an author is asked to change their writing in a way that would appeal to a larger audience. 

Such a problem never arises in the self-publishing world, since the author has full control over the content and cover of the book. If the author wishes to make a few last-minute changes to the book, that too will be easily incorporated. 

In the end, an author know his / her book the best and should decide on his / her goal and objectives before deciding to get published (traditionally / self).

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