Deciding whether to choose Traditional Publishing and Self Publishing can be a daunting task. It’s imperative that you have complete and correct information before you make a decision. While it may do good for some people to choose traditional ways, others may favour self publishing. Neither is “right” or “wrong” in any way. It mostly depends on the resources you have and the nature of your project. Hopefully this article will help you take the best route.

Traditional Publishing

Quick Summary: In Traditional Publishing you write a manuscript and submit it to different publishing houses. They will then accept or reject your work. If you are lucky and your work gets selected, the publishing house then buys all the rights to your work. To choose the publishing house and make the deal, you can hire a literary agent. The publishing house then offers you an advanced and in return you  are to finish the book in allotted time. After many rounds of editing and marketing(which may take years) your book is ready to be published.

Pros: The publisher pays the money. From submitting your manuscript to the publishing house to getting the book published, you don’t have to pay for anything. You may, however, want to hire a literary agent to make sure your work stands out from the piles stacked on an editor’s desk. You also get paid an advance to write your book and receive royalties after this advance has been paid back.

You work with professionals.  This is especially alluring for first time writers who are treading into an unknown territory. These are skilled people who know the exact steps to make sure your book is a success. These are editors, cover designers and marketers who are paid by the agent and the editor who know the market and its demands. The sales will take your books from store to store and make your book more accessible to readers.

Just Write* Water is wet, the sky is blue and writers are good at writing. So why burden them with jobs that don’t come under their area of expertise? A good writer but a bad editor left on his own equals a bad book. As a writer your job is to write and traditional publishing makes sure you do just that. Now for the asterisk– “Just” may be a bit of a stretch. The marketing team and the sales reps will cover the bookstores but the direct marketing with consumers may be left entirely to you.

(*Terms and Conditions Apply)

Likely Success If your manuscript is chosen, consider yourself extremely lucky. Most editors have to dive into piles and piles of submitted works to find a handful of gems. If you make it, then that in itself is a huge accomplishment. It also means that your work is worthy enough of their time and subsequently, the time of the consumers.


Cons: Amazingly slow. The entire process from finding an agent to getting the final product in your hands is turtle-paced and may take up to 3-4 years. First it will take time for you to find and decide on the right agent. Your manuscript may not always be accepted. That acceptance will take time as well. To that, you might want to add the time you will take actually writing the book. Not to mention the time that will be taken up the professional team of editors and cover designers. Yeah, that’s pretty slow.

Not enough gain. You won’t earn as much as you would if you self-published. Your royalties will be calculated after deducting the fees of editors and that advance you were paid. In the end you will be paid a fraction of what your book was able to earn. To add to that you will also have to pay for your agent.

No control. Once your manuscript is accepted, you lose all rights to your book. This means you might want to go home and sit down to pray for a good editor who will see your vision and keep true to it instead of shredding it to pieces. Many authors end up unsatisfied when their creative control is taken away from them. So that can be a real bummer.

Self Publishing

Quick Summary: This is the kind of publishing where the author publishes his work without the involvement of a professional publisher. All decisions ranging from the cover to editing are made by the author himself (unless he decides to hire a professional). All the monetary investments made, in this kind of publishing, are made by the author himself.

Pros: Set your own pace. Unlike in Traditional publishing, you don’t have to work according to other’s schedule. This is best for people who break under pressure. You can take as much time as you need with your book and make sure  you’re satisfied with what you have in the end. No more ticking time bombs.

Full control. The biggest problem that most people have traditional publishing is that they lose all control over their own work. With self-publishing you don’t have to worry about that. You can choose whatever cover that that seems suitable. The marketing is in your hands. It’s still recommended that you hire an editor but this time you have more authority.

Higher Earnings. If your book is the masterpiece you claim it to be, you’re about to be rich. Excluding the fees of the people you hire, you can keep all the profit to yourself! The royalties you’ll receive when you self publish are far more than traditional publishing.

Guaranteed publication. A big issue with Traditional publishing comes right at the start- to get selected. A lot of books that are submitting don’t make it to the shelves. You may have to knock doors of every publishing house in the vicinity. This is something that you won’t have to worry about in self-publishing. After all, you’re the one publishing the book.


Cons: The Pros and cons of Self-publishing are pretty much the same.

Set your own budget. You will have to pay for everything from your pocket. You’ll have to pay the editor, pay the publisher and everyone else you will hire to help you and trust me you will need a lot of that. If you want your work to look professional and not end up in the bargain bin of a bookstore, you will need to spend a lot.

Full control. Now that you have all the power to dictate things…well you have to dictate things. Which means you need to know about everything that goes into publishing. You need the artistic creativity to design your own cover, or the money to buy one from Stock photos and try your hand at Photoshop. Or you could hire professionals to that, which also *spoiler alert*requires more money.

You only get what you give. If, by some horrendous luck, your book doesn’t sell well even after all your investment, you will have to suffer loss. While the rich can afford it, for someone who’s trying to make a living out of it, this may be a huge downside.

Go Hybrid

Of course, you don’t have to choose from the two. These days most authors prefer to go hybrid, depending on their projects. What matters is that your book gets the treatment it deserves.


Haya Abidi

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