"What sells a book sells a book, same in traditional or self- publishing. You gotta shake your tail feathers"-- Joni Rogers.

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Am I a published writer? No. I'll get that right out of the way. I've no personal experience with either of the self- pub or traditional publishing processes. I've only read about them- as a true reader does.

As someone who loves writing and would love to publish a book someday, I've looked into the two routes to achieve that dream. I will point you to some great articles that can tell you more than I can- but I will mostly show you the pros and cons to each strategy based on what I learned at a writing conference a few months back.

So, without further ado, here are the ups, downs, and general differences to self- publishing and traditional publishing.

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Traditional Publishing :

The traditional route is often confused with the traditional dream: a big, well- known publisher, a HECK of a book deal, a lot of cash and a lot of fans that allow you to write for a living.
Sometimes day dreams of twirling a feather pen while looking over the Mediterranean follow. I plead guilty.
However, this is not the case for most traditionally published authors. You could literally earn less than a dollar for each book you sell- terrible, right?! But that is the cost for a traditional publisher. If you go that route, you get:

1. The 'official stamp' that comes with a publisher backing your work

2. Free editing for your novel

3. Free marketing for your novel

That is a SUPER brief overview- there's definitely more, and I would encourage you to look into it.
I would also like to mention that a self- published book can be respected too-- a good book is a good book, no matter what. But just as people are more impressed by the Louis Vuitton dress than by your home- made dress (that may be JUST as quality), people respect the big publisher over the self- published.

1. You lose a lot of creative freedom. The cover, title, and the way your book is presented to the world through marketing is not up to you.

You may be writing a dystopian YA novel with a dash of romance in there. But the publisher could market your book as a romance with a dystopian backdrop. This could lead to the wrong people reading your book- resulting in bad reviews and less connection between fans and the author.
That is something you will have to accept as a possibility if you go the traditional route, because control is not yours.
no control, grunge, and one direction image Temporarily removed

2. Probably less money

As I said earlier, you could be earning less than a dollar per book sold- the average being just over a dollar.

Now to: self- publishing:


1. Total creative freedom

Sell your book literally anywhere it's legal to sell it. Heck, give it away if you want. Make the cover look exactly how you pictured. Market it to perfection. You get those privileges with self-publishing.

2. Possibly more money

IF you market well enough, and enough people are interested in your book-- you can make ALL the money readers spend on your book. Pretty nice, ASSUMING people buy your book.

3. It's pretty cool to be self- made


1. You spend A LOT of money... If you want it to be good

According to 'Finish the Book Publishing', your book could cost 10,000 to produce. When you are ensuring quality, your book will pass through many hands. Between book coaches, line editors, copy editors, AND developmental (plot, character ect.) editors... you will spend a lot of money. And that's NOT including the cost to design a cover and then print your book (or convert it into an ebook).

2. It's a lot of work

“A successful self-publisher must fill three roles: Author, Publisher, and Entrepreneur—or APE.”― Guy Kawasaki.
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Through researching which editors and coaches are best for you, then having to market the book yourself (AFTER writing it and making it all pretty and professional) it makes the whole process pretty exhausting- or so I can imagine.

3. You may get and pardon my french ... BALONEY for it

No matter how many books you sell, how pretty the cover is... WHATEVER, there will be people in your life (and on the internet) that may still judge the book by the publisher.
There are so many self- published authors out there that have testimonies of still trying to prove to family that they are a real author. Even when they are making a living off of their work, it is not respected. That may very well be something you would have to deal with as a self- pub author.
But if you get creative freedom and a living wage from it- I would say that's worth it.

But if you are an aspiring author, what you have to ask yourself is: what do you say is worth it?

This has been a general overview of pros and cons regarding the two publishing routes. If you would like more info, here is a document I put together.


Have a lovely day and year and life!

Written by @_audreylaine for the Tenth Muse Writer's Team.