Should I self-publish or traditionally publish my book in 2023? | Self-Pub v Trad-Pub

First, let’s review your options: 1. Traditionally Publish and 2. Self-Publish.

Traditional Publishing is where a major publishing house, one of the top 5, or an established indie press, purchase the rights to publish your book. This is usually negotiated by a literary agent who knows the ins and outs and has relationships with acquiring editors at these publishing houses.

There are indie presses out there that I would still categorize under the umbrella of trad pub because you still need and agent, the publisher still pays you for the rights.
The big thing to avoid here are vanity presses.

5 factors to help you decide:

Vision – what is the future you see for your book? Is it a movie? Is it a billboard in times square? Is it in your local bookstore? Is it on Amazon? Your vision is achievable, but one route makes certain really big audacious visions more likely. Neither guarantee it. But one is way harder to get to those lists than the other. 

Audience – who is your audience and where do they find books? If your audience is on booktok and is looking for a new book every week, if you have the patience to be on tiktok and write in that genre, you may be okay still self-publishing. Is your audience for this book someone who reads whatever the big morning shows are promoting for their book clubs or who only reads what makes the big lists? If so, you may need a traditional publisher.

Time – Say this often but there is the speed of light, the speed of sound, and then there is the speed of books. Books move slowly. Even self-publishing I say plan for this to take a year. From starting the draft to all the edits, polishing it, juggling the book tasks with your day job, formatting, design, and publishing. It takes a year. With traditional publishing, it can take YEARS. But with self-publishing, you have better control over the timeline. If you can be patient, maybe traditional is for you. If you aren’t patient, well maybe writing a book isn’t for you but at least with self-pub, you have a say on the timeline.

Control – This brings me to control. Whether you self-pub or traditionally publish there is a LOT out of your control. Just accept that. Retailer websites have glitches. Someone else’s book goes viral. You have no control there. With self-publishing, you control all the other variables. All of them. If you like learning by doing and getting your hands dirty, self-pub. If you want someone else to manage the timeline, handle the financial transactions, pick the best cover designer, trad pub means you have more people helping to pick things. 

Budget – With traditional publishing, you get paid! That’s right the publisher buys the rights to your book. But they decide how much they will invest in marketing the book. You may spend your advance building a website, doing PR, and other things you feel will also help the book sell. With self-publishing, you cover ALL the costs, but you also get all the royalties. If you can front-load the expenses, self-pub could be for you. What you don’t spend in dollars, you will spend in time. 

So, any ideas on which avenue sounds right for you and your book?

I put together a checklist for you to work through to help you decide which route is best for you and your plan for the book. You can claim it here:

Trad Pub Resources
Alyssa Matesic

Book Ends YouTube Channel

Alexa Donna Querying Series

Self Pub Resources
Author Your Ambition
My YouTube Channel

And Book Series

Alliance of Independent Authors

The Alliance of Independent Authors

The Indy Author Podcast with Matty Dalrymple

And if you do decide to self-publish I have tons of videos for you, books that you can get at your library, and this new Author Your Ambition workbook that will walk you through every step of the process.

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