Some of the values that self-publishing delivers, includes:
- No barriers to entry (This is also a negative, since it opens the floodgates to low quality stories)
- Faster time to market
- More control
- Higher royalty percentage (However, this doesn’t necessarily promise higher actual revenue)
Some of the values that traditional publishing delivers, includes:
- Built-in distribution sales channel and marketing for both print and electronic versions
- Team of seasoned experts that contribute to all aspects of the book publishing journey, such as story editors, line editors, cover artists, layout designers, PR people, salespeople, production team, and more.
- Inherent stamp of approval for major book chains and distribution channel in terms of book quality
- Inherent stamp of approval for readers in general (While this might eventually become less of a factor as ebooks evolve, with some exceptions I believe for the present most readers will choose traditionally published books over self-published)
- Higher chance of success (While I don’t have numbers to back this up, I would predict that on average traditionally published books have a higher per-book sell-through rate than self-published books. Please feel free to provide numbers that confirm or dispute this)
Of course there are cons to both options too. Self-publishing typically requires an upfront investment by the author as well as increased marketing effort by the author. Even though traditional publishing is requiring more from its authors in terms of marketing, it’s hasn’t yet reach the level required by the self-publisher for success. Traditional publishing also has cons, the foremost of these being that it has a very high barrier to entry. Some feel that barrier is too high. For me there is actually value in that barrier and it’s worth it to me to spend years and significant effort breaking through it. I also place significant value on having a team of experts backing me up. I look at that as a key ingredient to my long-term success as an author.
So, the question really comes down to, what do you want as an author? If you’re a great marketer yourself, if you don’t think you need the expertise that publishers provide or you just simply want to have a book published, then self-publishing might be your best publication path. If you want a team of experts to contribute to your success and you’re willing to put the effort in to join their team, traditional publishing might be the best route.
While to some, this post might seem like a contradiction to my post of the other day, it’s really not. Both publishing routes deliver a set of values, but the importance of each those values will change based on individual author perspective and as the publishing landscape continues to evolve and change in the wake of the digital revolution.
Also, I know that the above is just a short list of the values that both routes offer. Feel free to add to the list in your comments below.