I’m happy to be welcoming a fellow Laura to Novel Kicks today. Author, Laura Briggs talks about Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing and the pros and cons of each. Over to you, Laura.
First of all, thanks to Laura for inviting me to appear on Novel Kicks with a post on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. I’ve learned a little about both in recent years and hope my experiences may prove useful to some of you reading this.
Let me start by saying that my publisher, Pelican Book Group, is nothing less than excellent. I love working with them and plan to submit more manuscripts to their company in the future. I also love self-publishing and am grateful to have the opportunity for both.
Now—let’s get to some pros and cons on publishing!
The Pros of Traditional Publishing:
•Professional Editing: This is an obvious one, but I can’t stress it enough. Freelance editors cost a few hundred on average, so yes, professional editing gives traditional publishing an edge.
•Professional Cover Design: Another obvious one, I know, but important. Not everyone has the software, or the know-how to make a good cover, even with so many high quality images available via sites like Dreamstime. The cover often serves as your book’s first impression, so it needs to be good.
•Professional Marketing: Let’s face it—marketing is tough. And hugely competitive. Book review bloggers are swamped with requests and even buying ad space from a popular service like Bookbub is difficult to achieve. Some publishing companies have better methods of getting your book out there. Some don’t. It depends on the publisher, and of course, even authors with a traditional publisher must still do some of their own marketing.
•It Has More Options Than Before: There are many small and up-and-coming publishers who will take unagented submissions from writers these days. There are even divisions of bigger publishing houses, like HarperCollins, I believe, that welcome unagented submissions. They may not pay author advances like big companies do, but some are quite generous on the royalties.
The Cons of Traditional Publishing:
•Price Control: This varies, of course. Some publishers are open to author’s suggestions on sale prices or even making the book free temporarily. But for ultimate control of pricing—a key part of scheduling one’s advertisements—the indie author has the advantage.
•Less Creative Freedom: The author really can’t have the final say when it comes to certain things in a traditionally published manuscript. Like any collaborative effort, there are bound to be disagreements. Some authors are very particular about changes to their work—and some publishers are likely to suggest major revisions to the manuscript. A good thing to keep in mind when seeking a traditional publisher.
The Pros of Self-Publishing:
•Scheduling Control: This is an important one. Being able to release a book when you want to is key for many authors, especially those publishing a series.
•No Restrictions: By ‘restrictions’, I mean things like word count limit. Many authors—and readers—prefer short novels or novellas, but a lot of publishers will expect a certain length.
•I’ve already named these two: complete creative freedom and complete control over pricing. They’re important to most authors and a factor that makes self-publishing very appealing.
The Cons of Self-publishing:
•Well, these are fairly obvious: no editor, cover designer, or PR manger—at least not for free. Unless, of course, you’re talented in these areas, or happen to have a friend or relative skilled in these who’s willing to devote their time! There’s also the matter of formatting the eBook for the different online publishing platforms. There are helpful instructions on the web, but again, it’s not for everyone.
So which method has worked better for me? Well, it’s a difficult question, because I like them both for different reasons. I have learned that a successful book depends on many factors, but one of the most powerful influences is probably word of mouth. Meaning, your readers need to love your book enough to recommend it to other people—and that kind of effect isn’t really something you achieve through having or not having a traditional publisher. It happens by writing a book that readers don’t want to put down. That’s the real challenge for all writers, isn’t it?
Laura is a twenty-something artist with a B.A. in English. She’s the author of both Indie and traditional fiction. Her books include The Wedding Caper and Boyfriend by The Book as well as The Dark Woods book series. She loves reading, writing,and sharing the adventures of “paper creativity” with others. You can find out more about her at her blog, http://paperdollwrites.blogspot.co.uk/