skip to Main Content

Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing: Which is My Best Option? Part One…

This is a question I get asked a lot…and my response really varies depending on what the author’s main objective is in getting his or her book published.

If your overall goal is to have broad distribution in book retailers and the power of a publishing house behind you, then traditional publishing is probably your best bet. However, if you see your book as an extension of your brand; you want to have it available to give to clients or potential clients and your colleagues; or you want to have it readily available as part of any seminars or presentations you give, self-publishing is probably the way to go, especially if this is your first book.

Anyone who has ever had their book published will tell you that the process is a lot more involved (and frustrating) than perhaps they had ever imagined. Frustrating because unless you have an agent, most publishers won’t even consider your manuscript, and then there is a certain amount of control the author must be willing to give up in the event their book is picked up by a publisher. Any traditional publisher you go with is going to reserve the right to be the final arbiter in any decisions made about the way the book is edited, packaged, distributed, and promoted. Sure, the author is invited to provide their feedback, but that doesn’t always mean that feedback is acted upon. And if you’re hoping a publisher is going to market and promote the hell out of your book…well, with budget cuts these days the marketing dollars just aren’t there. So more often than not, the author is left to fend for themselves anyway. But this is the subject of another blog…

What I’m saying here is, if you have the cash, you’re more interested in approaching the book as a business investment, and you don’t want to give up creative or marketing control, self-publishing might very well be the way to go. It can be expensive but given the amount of money you’re probably going to end up paying out anyway for marketing alone, the return on your investment can be great. You’re also giving your book a longer shelf-life as publishers tend to concentrate their efforts on a book for a very limited – and increasingly shrinking – period of time.

I’ll go into all of this in more depth in future postings, particularly in regards to the self-publishing options that are out there today. In the meantime, I invite you to share your experiences both as traditional and self-published authors, and let’s keep the conversation going…


Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

Back To Top