The Pros and the Cons: Which Path is Best for You? Traditional vs. Self-Publishing


All the world's a stage

This post will eventually be put on random or thoughts.  It was just something I woke up thinking about, so I figured this might be important to share to people.  I don’t really have a fact checker section, because I don’t really consider myself as the expert in all things publishing. However, I have done a lot of research and reading, so I’ll put up links to help you sort out your own path in the traditional or self-publishing path. This will be a long post, so please prepare yourself.  Let’s get started!  Shall we?


This first part will be from what I remember briefly.  So, please bear with me if things have changed and my facts are wrong. However, I’ll give you lots of great information. There are many links down below to help you make realistic choices.


The Pros:  The Positives

  1. Everything is done for you!  The book covers, the editing, and even the marketing!  So, technically you have your own PR agent in a sense. Yay!
  2. You may even get a nice little book deal to make sequels, so you could very well be one of the lucky few who get paid to write and make a living out of it.  Look at Stephen King!
  3. You get more recognition and can brag about where you’ve published and how many bestsellers you’ve sold, etc.
  4. You can probably do some traveling too.  Do some book signings at local bookstores and such.
  5. Might get a movie based off your book, if it sells well and becomes popular.
  6. You’ll probably get millions of fans, so you can start your own fan base online and what not.

Yes, these are the positives to publishing traditionally… ONLY IF you have a popular mainstream type of book that’s “safe to sell.”  If you have a book that’s too risky, then forget about it!  And I’m not talking about erotica. The positives may vary depending on the writer, what kind of book they have, and what realistic expectations they go about it. I can only stretch this list so far…

The Cons: The Negatives

  1. Many big publishing companies will not look at unsolicited manuscripts, unless you have an agent and some earlier writing (credentials). Experience is a plus!  However, no agent and you’re not getting in!
  2. Longer waiting times for both publisher and agents.  SNAIL MAIL ONLY!  You’re trying to get an agent, so you’ll probably be spending many years fixing and perfecting that inquiry letter (most likely a query letter) sending either hand typed letters or emails (some agents/publishers are now accepting letters electronically, but it’s still kind of rare that they’ll do that).  For both agents/publishers… you’ll be waiting 4-6 months at a time to get a response. Some of them may not even reply until a year later or some will never reply back to you at all.  They’re extremely overwhelmed with thousands of letters a year, but that’s what they say.  You don’t really have a clue about how many letters publishers/agents get or if they actually read them. For publishers, the longer they wait to make your book into print to sell, your genre/history timeline that was popular 2-3 years ago is no longer popular.  It’s now extinct like the dinosaurs! Try selling that old fossil and see what happens.
  3. Let’s say you do get an agent. They require 10-20% of your royalties once the book is bought and sold. Some say 10% and others say around 15% or more.  That is the norm!  Any less and they’re a scam artist! They’ll be trying to sell your book to a mainstream publishing house. Of course, you don’t see what they’re doing, since you probably just found them online or met them one time in person at a book fair (or a seminar).  So, hopefully you’ve done some extensive research on your agent beforehand, because you really don’t want to have an agent that doesn’t know what he or she is doing.  If you do, you’ll be wasting your time and quite possibly your money too.  Not to mention, there’s a lot of scams out there. So, you better be on the alert!
  4. No control over your book means NO CONTROL WHATSOEVER!  Your publishing company can change your characters (call your main character Skippy), take out characters, take out chapters of very important plot information, give you a lame looking cheap ass book cover, high book price, and much much more.  You may not even recognize your book when you start promoting it.
  5. If your book doesn’t sell in a certain time frame, let’s say about 6 months or less… you may find your book out of print. Publishing companies only print out a certain amount of copies, specifically, for their charts tell them just an estimate of how many people may buy your book. However, all the marketing in the world (TV ads, billboards, posters, traveling, etc) may not save you if no one is buying the 12,000 copies of your book. 😐
  6. Even though book publishing companies handle most of the expenses, it doesn’t really guarantee you’ll be free of all costs or charges. If you’re traveling to promote your book, you may be spending all… if not your advance money (when you sold your book rights over to the publishing house) or your life savings driving around in an RV and arriving to certain book fairs, special events, bookstores, and so on. You may very well end up bankrupt by the time it’s over.
  7. Even after all of your hard work… let’s just be real here.  You may never get the recognition, the fame, or the fortune. You may never get movies based on your works, even though you’ve published traditionally for many years. You may never have a fan base. In fact, you may even have a hate base, based on bashing you and your works. So, is it still worth it? I dunno. YOU DECIDE!


The Pros:

  1. You have total control over your book. You are the boss, the main editor, and the PR agent of all aspects dealing with your book such as the book cover, the chapters, marketing, and so on.
  2. You get more royalties. You may get 35% up to 70%. That’s not bad at all compared to the traditional authors!
  3. You can sell your book at whatever price you feel like, if you use a printing press company beforehand and have like 500 copies of your book already.
  4. You may get into a niche market and actually sell some books.  Look at Amanda Hocking and others like her who’ve made almost a million dollars!  Wow!
  5. If it goes well, maybe a small independent publishing house will recognize you and may want to give you a book contract, if they see a potential market.  You may plan on having more sequels and that’s a plus for them.
  6. You may get a bit of fame or a fan base on your site or author’s blog. People want to know how you did it!  You may have an online platform.  You never know!
  7. The feeling of accomplishing your life-long dream has finally came true at last. You can now tell people that you’ve published your novel. Congratulations!

The Cons:

  1. MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES!  So, you better start working two or three jobs, if you want to pay for all these printing costs, book fees, art fees, pricing fees, shipping/handling fees, and so on!
  2. You may become broke or bankrupt by the time you finish. 😐
  3. Local bookstores don’t give a damn that you’re published! You’re not anyone important, so they may never ever allow you inside their building to promote your accursed book.
  4. Ebooks may be nice and all, but real avid readers go for books they can feel, smell, and touch. Paper still is pretty damn popular. Those poor trees never had a chance… 😦
  5. Yes, you may have total control over your book prices… but is anyone going to take you seriously when you sell your book for .99 cents or even for free?!  Your book price may be the death of your writing career.
  6. Yes, you’re the editor… but did you really check those typos?  You may get a lot of people to buy or read the first book, but are they going to come back to read the sequel? Not a chance! Maybe when Hell freezes over. Not editing your book or not taking editing seriously will be the death of your career. PERIOD!
  7. Even after all of your hard work… let’s just be real here.  You may never get the recognition, the fame, or the fortune. You may never get movies based on your works, even though you’ve self-published for many years. You may never have a fan base. In fact, you may even have a hate base, based on bashing you and your works. So, is it still worth it? I dunno. YOU DECIDE! (Yes, this was repeated from Traditional publishing!)


  1. 38 MOST COMMON FICTION WRITING MISTAKESThe site’s actually down. But it is a book. So, check it out at the library or just buy it! This is a great guide for all novice and beginner writers, who want to take their work seriously. Old writers can read this too, but some of the rules we’ve probably already broken. So, that doesn’t really help us. However, if you’re just starting out, I suggest you take a look at it and really learn and study it. I have the book by the way. I read it now and then for a good laugh, but what this book has is no laughing matter. Majority of writers (even me) will make at least one or two of these mistakes and have no idea.
  2. WRITER’S BEWARE BLOG! This is where I get a lot of my information and facts about agent/book publishing scams. It’s overwhelming the information on this site!!  The facts on this blog and the connecting sister links will make your brain explode, so please read just a little at a time or you’ll get discouraged really fast!  Seriously… it only takes one minute.
  3. AGENT QUERY – From what I’ve heard, this is the best site to look for an agent. Just please please make sure you do extensive research on your agent before sending random letters to online strangers you know nothing about.
  4. GRAMMAR GIRL SITE – I check her site religiously! I read her book like every day, but I have yet to listen to her podcasts and watch her videos. If you plan on publishing, either traditional methods or self-publishing you better know how to edit a manuscript. No book or person will ever be perfect, but you better know the difference between affect vs. effect. If not, I don’t think you should consider writing a book and selling it. I suggest you pick up another hobby that’s less complicated, like abstract painting or fishing.
  5. P & E: BOOK PUBLISHER LISTINGS – This site is very helpful in finding traditional book publishing houses. However, once again please do all your research on a company before you start sending out manuscripts to a publishing house you know nothing about.
  6. FREEBIES 4 WRITERS: LIST OF COVER ARTISTS – Looking for an artist to do a book cover for you?  Well, this is the place! Just remember to research. You can also go to to find cheaper artists looking for commissions to do. Please, read all your contracts before signing anything in print. Make sure you and your artist know exactly the terms and the price of what you’ll be paying for.
  7. THE UNIVERSAL MARY-SUE LITMUS TEST – This is mostly for novice writers or for anyone who doesn’t know what a Mary-Sue is. I keep reading too many books where the female (Mary-Sue) or male (Gary-Sue) character have no real flaws. There’s a different between physical flaws and internal flaws people. Please get it right! Yes, I know Twilight was popular for this reason, but that doesn’t mean you should do it too!
  8. VILLAIN CLICHE-O-METER – It seems villains in these books are suffering from Cliche Ville too. Please make realistic villains! I’m sick of reading villains who are evil for no damn reason. It doesn’t make them mysterious. In fact, it makes them pretty stupid that they have no other goals or other dreams in life, besides taking over the world!!!
  9. DEMYSTIFYING PUBLISHING: ANNA GENOESE – For those thinking about publishing traditionally. This lady has everything! She knows the facts and has the information about how to edit and publish your manuscript. She even offers editing services, but she’s very expensive to hire. However, that’s up to you to decide. I only suggest just reading her blog every now and then. She really knows what she’s talking about, but don’t take my word for it.
  10. MARKETING YOUR BOOK: THE CREATIVE PENN – I myself have yet to use this site to its full potential, but it does have some good information about how to market your book for those of you thinking about self-publishing. Although, they have good facts on this site, the marketing is still up to YOU! Only you can decide what is best for you in terms of marking and what’s in your budget.
  11. THE PASSIVE VOICE – A great site with tons of news and articles relating to the publishing world. Passive Guy is not a lawyer, but he blogs every day about lots of news worthy information that might affect you and your publishing future. Cheek him out!

Thank you for reading this far folks. I hope this post was helpful, despite that I can be a bit cynical at times. Please remember to take my advice and all advice with a grain of salt. Only you can decide what is truly important to you and your novel. I am only one voice out of the many voices out there. I’m not even an expert in the matter of all things publishing. I’m just trying to share what I know to others and make it easier for them to decide, for I never had anyone to show me the way. If I have any other useful sites, I’ll post them up for you in due time. Good luck to you on your publishing adventures! Take care now. 😀

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