top of page

Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing

It used to be that when a writer had a message, a product, or even a book they needed to publish, they went the traditional route to get it to the published. Who hasn’t heard of Penguin Random House, Harper Collins, and Simon and Schuster? Whether you are a novice writer or an experienced one, you’ve heard of the publishing companies above.

In fact, many writers dream of having their books published by them. The process of getting your book published traditionally is an arduous journey with many twists but can be very rewarding when your book is accepted by a publisher for publication. According to the Penguin Random House website, they publish over 70,000 digital and 15,000 print books each year.

The pros to traditional publishing is that a writer can receive an advance (depending on the publisher and contract), feel validated, have the support of a publishing team, and not worry about the usual up front costs for proofing, editing, and designing a cover. The publisher covers the costs for printing and distribution of your book online and in print. Most of the costs aligned with your book falls on the publisher.

However, the cons begin long before your book is accepted by a traditional publisher. For starters, you have to compete with others who are vying to have their book published by the major publishing houses. Some publishing companies don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts and require writers to use literary agents as the go between. On average, literary agents receive fifty or more manuscripts per week, and that’s on the lighter side of submissions, and it also doesn’t guarantee that one of the major publishing houses will accept your manuscript for publication. Once your book has been accepted, writers' percentage of royalties tend to be low, and writers must participate, and/or create the buzz (marketing) for their books.

There is a lot you must consider when you decide to publish your book traditionally. Although writers can and still publish traditionally, gone are the days when the above is the only avenue a writer has at his or her disposal. Writers are finding it easier to publish their work via self publishing. While this isn’t a new trend, since self publishing has been around for quite some time, the publishing field has broadened because more companies are providing writers a vehicle to self publish their work through their online platforms.

Companies such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Lulu, IngramSpark, Draft2Digital, and Bookbaby are just a few of the online platforms that allow writers the ability to self publish their work on their own terms. And just like traditional publishing, there are pros and cons to writers self publishing a book.

More writers are opting to self publish their content to have complete control over the entire publishing process. Unlike with a traditional publisher, writers choose and create the design of their books, where books will be distributed and in what formats. In addition, writers’ percentage of royalties are higher than if they published the book traditionally. Using an online platform, writers are able to publish books faster than they would traditionally. They can target (market) their readers and have direct contact with their readers.

The cons to self publishing is that writers must do everything from drafting to publishing their book on their own whether they know how to or not. While this may be beneficial to some, it may not be for the writer who simply wants to write and leave the design and marketing to the pros. However, enlisting the help of pros can be expensive. Expenses quickly add up if one needs an editor, a cover designer, or even an illustrator. Additional expenses may incur from using certain online self publishing platforms that charge fees to create, promote, and distribute your book.

Whether you decide to publish traditionally or self publish, you must consider the benefits and the disadvantages for both. Which one is a better fit for you and your book?


Penguin Random House. “The Book Lover's Guide to Publishing: Penguin Random House.”, Penguin Random House,

bottom of page