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This is the magic question every writer asks before publishing a book. My introduction to independent publishing started several years ago; a relative and a friend recommended the name of a publisher. Although I was skeptical at first, I contacted a well-known self-publishing company in the summer of 2013. The rest is history. I am a fanatic of self-publishing and know I made the right choice that best fits me. Often, the new writer has a decision to make of which method of publishing is right for him or her. A lot depends on the writer and what he or she is looking for. If you have a time-sensitive manuscript or looking at a particular time period, like to control your own decision-making of your book, then self-publishing might be the right choice for you, If you don’t have an online presence or don’t know how to find and reach readers, dislike social media, or want a publisher to handle marketing your book, then traditional publishing might be the better choice for you. Nether independent or traditional publishing are better than the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages, I believe.

So what is the difference between independent and traditional publishing? Traditional Publishing offers the author a contract to print, publish and sell your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the book sales. The publisher handles the marketing, distribution and warehousing for your book. In the traditional method of publishing, there is no expense to the author – mainstream publishers make a profit from the book sales.

Major advantages:

  • The publisher assumes all expenses for your book, including publishing, distribution and marketing services.
  • The author receives royalties from the book sales.
  • The publisher will be responsible for selling your book to bookstores and other retailers.

Major disadvantages:

  • The author gives the publisher the right to publish his or her book.
  • The publisher makes a profit from book sales.
  • The author gives some control of the publishing process to the publisher.
  • Traditional publishing may be very time-consuming and a lengthy process.

Through traditional publishing, it is highly recommended that the author find a literary agent. Before you do anything, you need to identify the category of your book. If writing non-fiction, a book proposal is needed with three sample chapters and a synopsis of each chapter. If writing fiction, a completed manuscript is needed. Next, you need to send a query letter to potential literary agents. Be sure to mention the synopsis of your book, the chapter summary, the market or audience of your book and a description (bio) of yourself.

Self-Publishing requires the author to invest his or her own money to produce, market, distribute and warehouse his or her book. The majority of work falls on the author’s shoulders and he or she pays for all the expenses. The author controls when the book is published, retains all rights to the book and receive 100% of the profits.

Major advantages:

  • The author controls when the book is published, distributed and marketed.
  • The author retains all rights to the book.
  • The author receives 100% of the profits from book sales, plus royalties.
  • Self-publishing may be more cost-effective than other publishing models.

Major disadvantages:

  • The author pays all expenses for publishing, distributing and marketing the book.
  • All printing costs are paid by the author.
  • The author is mostly responsibility for selling to bookstores and other retailers.
  • This may require a huge time commitment by the author.

As I have emphasized every week, always do your homework and research before starting any project. This shows that you are knowledgeable about the subject and know at least some of what you are discussing. I have listed some resources that might help new authors and writers get started:

  1. Authorhouse Publishers, Inc. Author Learning Center for Self-Publishers, Bloomington, IN.
  2. Brewer, Robert Lee. 2011 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition, F & W Media, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, 2010. Email: WritersMarket.com
  3. Larsen, Michael. How to Write a Book Proposal, 4th Edition Ebook, accessed June 8, 2018.
  4. Reedsy, How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps, accessed June 12, 2018. Email: https://reedsy.com
  5. Writers Digest Shop, How to Publish a Book: An Overview of Traditional & Self-Publishing, accessed June 8, 2018.
  6. Writer’s Market: Where & How to Sell What you Write, 2016 Guide to Literary Agents, accessed June 8, 2018.

Next week, I will be discussing how to sell yourself (brand) as a new writer and author. You need to be recognized locally throughout the community as an author. It is a competitive world out there, but do not get discouraged. Determination and perseverance are the keys to attaining success and maintaining it. Most importantly, you need to relax and enjoy the writing process along the way.