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

My old post THE PROS AND THE CONS: WHICH PATH IS BEST FOR YOU? TRADITIONAL VS. SELF-PUBLISHING is now revised due to the fact of our ever changing publishing world.

At first, a lot of writers seemed to agree with me and understand that I was being cynical. I had no problems when I published it and I think people saw the humor of it and thought it was funny. It is still one of my most favorite posts, nonetheless. However, other writers have enlightened me that some of my statements that I made purely for fun (that are just exaggerations) are not “technically” true.  I think I made it clear from the very beginning of my post that I am not an expert in all things publishing nor do I have a fact checking sheet with me. You can probably find tons of information and more by going online. Why need my word for it?

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s be serious. I have read up on a lot of books and articles online, but I’m only human. Books get old, facts change, and times change. I am an old coot! I will change these, so nothing is left unclear. There will be no misunderstandings here.


Let’s go back over the list shall we?


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!

Technically – some aspects of the marketing is still part of the author’s responsibility, regardless if they’re self-published or not.

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!

Apparently, using Stephen King as an example for new writers has become “unrealistic” now.  Still don’t know why using Stephen King as a role model or an example would be wrong for any aspiring writer. But anyway, just to let people know––and this could be anyone who might take my words out of context or advice too seriously… here’s a heads up. There are authors out there who aren’t like Stephen King.

You had no idea too? It’s quite amazing, isn’t it? Yes, it is!  And guess what? They still make a living out of writing books and they’re not Stephen King. Oh, my God. You’re shocked? So, am I. Didn’t everyone know that there was no other writer out there in the whole world who makes a living like Stephen King––that’s unbelievable! Of course, there’s writers out there who make a living and aren’t Stephen King! This isn’t a one writer show....

3.) You get more recognition and can brag about where you’ve published and how many bestsellers you’ve sold, etc.

Technically – not all writers can brag, since some of them don’t get the recognition they deserve even if they’ve published, traditionally or not. There’s still many authors out there who haven’t had bestsellers and are still making some profits… or no profits on their books even after many years in the business.

4.) You can probably do some traveling too.  Do some book signings at local bookstores and such.

Apparently, only popular or well-known authors do book tours now, especially if it’s overseas.  However, I still believe any author can still do book tours and also go to local book fairs to promote their books, regardless of how popular they are or not.

5.) Might get a movie based off your book, if it sells well and becomes popular.

This is a new one and I have never heard of an author getting money upfront, without the movie ever being made before. I have heard in the past about Stephen King (here we go again!) letting independent filmmakers make his books into films by paying him $1 dollar. That’s correct folks. $1.  Has he changed it lately? I don’t know… you would have to ask him that.

A big production studio will not waste money on a film that’s not being made. Yes, an author can sell their rights for some money (not going to say a million dollars), but an author will only get paid when that movie is actually being planned in the early stages of pre-production. Then, the studio moves onto production and post production. The only time it falls through is if they didn’t have enough money in their budget or the negotiating terms fell through. If the film gets pulled, the author gets no money. When the film’s actually in process, the author gets money. Not to mention royalties afterwards. If this has changed, please let me know. Do big production studios just hand lots of cash to authors and never make their books into films? Sounds kinda wasteful if you ask me.

6.) You’ll probably get millions of fans, so you can start your own fan base online and what not.

Technically, saying “millions” of fans is not correct or it’s too broad of a scope for some people. Okay, if you’re a traditionally published author, let me make this clear enough. You DO NOT need a million fans to be a well-known author. I hope I made myself clear on that. Are we good? Moving on.


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!

Some writers say you don’t need an agent to get into publishing, and this is considering a lot of factors. History, books, experience, who you know, etc etc. Some self-published writers have been known to get into a big publishing company due to their popularity. I have yet to see someone get published through an editor though, but who knows. Maybe I’m wrong? Maybe there’s some hope for all of us out there.

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.

I do know that agents and publishers are now communicating through emails! Yes, we all have emails! Except for some of our grandparents. Technology has made our lives easier, where authors can now send their manuscripts with the click of a button. However, there are still publishers out there, who still want a typed letter the old fashion way or an envelope with your manuscript in it, sent to their address. Is it silly? Yes, it is… but that’s how they are.

Some are slow to change with the times we live in. Hopefully, in a couple more years all book publishing companies will allow manuscripts by email. Some writers tell me it doesn’t take years to write a query letter… then please tell me something… Why do we have so many darn publishing books and thousands of articles on writing a query letter? For a one page letter, folks? If you can answer that 3 million dollar question, I’ll give you a cookie.

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!

Okay, I’m getting conflicting reports on this one. One person says the standard industry model is 15% no matter what. Another source I just read online tells me 10%! Let’s just make this easier for you guys. I went to wikipedia. 20% for foreign royalties. 10-15% for domestic royalties. If an agent asks you for less than 10%, it’s a scam. If the agent asks you for more than 20%, it’s a scam. Got it? Good!

First of all, it all depends on the agent, the contract, and what they do for the author exactly. A good agent deserves your royalty, don’t get me wrong. In addition, I have never heard of an agent editing a manuscript for an author. That’s the job of the editor, folks. An agent is one who tries to sell the manuscript to the publisher, helps the author through the negotiating process, and focus on getting the author to understand the terms of the contract. That’s it.

An agent may tell the author to cut out this or that from their manuscript, but in no way will they really help with the editing process. They sell books! They pitch a book idea to publisher so it can sell. They are always fighting to get the best contract deals that works for the authors. That’s what a good agent does.

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.

Technically, only well established or well-known authors can do this. If you’re a new author, I don’t think it’s wise to try to argue with your editor, especially a professional editor at a big publishing company. Even if you’re polite and reasonable, they don’t have time to consider your thoughts. Only authors who have a long history or reputation may fight back some of the changes their publishers make. However, that’s not always the case for new authors.

Once again, time is money for book publishers. Many of them do not care about their authors’ needs. Publishers and editors don’t have time to listen to every concern, every voice. If you protest, most professional editors will not work with you and believe that you don’t know anything about the business of publishing. It is a business after all. They want you to make their changes and they will drop your book if you prove to be too difficult for them.

There are many stories out there about authors having lost publishing contracts because of disagreements with their editors. Don’t believe me on this, please try it for yourself and find out what happens. I would really like to know if this works. Contact me! Please comment on my blog and tell me what happened. I would seriously love to find out what happens. 🙂 If Snooki can get published, you can too!

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. 😐

Yes, this doesn’t happen anymore, since we have Amazon and Kindle now. We don’t have “out of print,” but we have something else. There have been cases where authors, before Amazon and such sites were developed, that couldn’t sell their books to other outlets, due to their contracts.

It’s rare this happens now for new authors, however, it’s not a new concept. Some publishing companies are changing their contracts and taking over e-book rights. Sometimes they will not let authors go to other outlets or even publish with another company. When they’ve released the author’s publishing rights, then the author has a choice to do whatever they want to their books. So, “out of print” is no more! It only applies to those authors in the past, way before email and computers.

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.

For all you new authors out there, you do not need to use your life savings and buy a RV. I repeat! You do not need a RV to go around, promoting your book all over town. Yes, it’s crazy. It does sound like someone would have to be mad to use up their money or all their life savings on such a project. But there have been some authors who have done it before.

Some had no choice but to do it. Since we have technology, we don’t have to do that anymore. You can use the Internet. Social networking is a plus! Would I advise new authors to go in a RV and try to sell their books. Hell no! I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that. If you had no internet, no tv, no other choice, no other method of getting the word out… that’s another story.

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!

This is still technically true, regardless of what previous false statements I’ve said before.


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.

Technically — this is still true!

2.) You get more royalties. You may get 35% up to 70%. That’s not bad at all compared to the traditional authors!

Once again, this is still true! If someone would like to prove me otherwise, I’ll be glad to hear you out.

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.

Technically — Yes, you can still sell your book price at whatever costs you want. The word “If” seems to confuse some people. You do not need a printing press company to self-publish a book, folks. Many people just go to Kindle and upload an e-book for free.

You don’t need a printing press at all (this isn’t the 1800s) and you don’t need 100 or even 500 copies of your book to sell. Now, we have POD (print on demand) services such as Lulu and Createspace, so you don’t need to print out hundreds of copies of your books anymore. You just buy what you need now and ship or pass them out.

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!

This is still true. Niche markets are being found now by those who recognize a need (is it everyday, I couldn’t say). They are being used and may provide a potential market for the future. If you look up the “LONG TAIL” at wikipedia, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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.

Yes, small independent publishing companies before… as well as large publishing companies NOW! Before, in the past, if you were a self-published author, big companies wanted nothing to do with you. Actually, no one wanted anything to do with you. You were pretty much on your own.

If only Edgar Allan Poe was born in the 21st Century… he could’ve made it too! It wasn’t until Amanda Hocking and others like her proved them wrong. You can go to a publishing company if you’ve been selling a good amount of your books. It’s not unheard of now. If they see that your books are still selling or gaining popularity, they will accept you… maybe without an agent? Who knows? The world is full of possibilities! 😀 But you still have to make that first step though…

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!

Technically, this is true. You may not get a million fans, but you may get some fans.

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!

I would hope this would be true for most of you… if not, why did you self-publish in the first place?

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!

Money still don’t grow on trees and neither does getting a job. You may not need 2 or 3 jobs, but you’ll need some money if you want a good quality book. Editing fees alone are still very expensive. New authors should get a couple of beta readers first and a few friends to help them edit.

It’s up to new authors to decide whether they truly need an editor or not. If you have no one else to help you edit, you may consider hiring an editor. But you should also plan ahead and learn how to budget your time and money, before ever hiring someone to work for you. At Createspace, basic copy-editing costs you up to $120 per 10,000 words. Yes, e-books are free on Kindle and cost nothing to make.

However, if you want a quality book with a nice cover, you’re going to have to pay something. It’s not cheap. You may spend a $100 or less on a book cover… so, that’s not too bad. To get a professional editor, it may cost you $5,000-$10,000. Not to mention, there are a lot of editing scams out there, so please be careful. Some editors even charge by the hour, $30-$60 bucks. Nothing comes for free––except maybe an e-book.

Luckily, there are some affordable ways and you don’t have to spend so much money to get a book out there. I found a way to publish, spending less of my money.

2.) You may become broke or bankrupt by the time you finish. 😐

NO, you don’t have to be bankrupt, if you DON’T want to be! However, you gotta be smart too. Some writers have been bankrupt more from book publishing scams than anything else. One woman spent nearly $50,000 dollars on editing costs and still never published her novel.

If you have no money whatsoever, please don’t borrow money from your friends and family members just to put them in the poor house. Don’t put yourself in debt! It’s not worth it! There are others ways. Just publish an e-book for free. It’s that simple. Am I broke? Not really. I was broke before, but I was willing to save some extra cash and put it aside for my book.

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.

Technically — yes and no. It’s better to try to promote your book at the library or at a local book fair to tell you the truth. Promoting your book at local bookstores for the most part may or may not work, depending on the type of book you have and their guidelines.

So far, Barnes & Nobles has separated themselves from Amazon/Kindle due to self-published authors, which is funny because they offer new authors to publish their books on the Nook now. Also, many bookstores have closed down or still closing down… so you may not even need a bookstore to promote your book anymore. Just wait it out a couple more years.

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… 😦

I guess this is more a personal preference for some people. I love books! I’m an avid reader and nothing beats touching a book in my hands. I have many friends who still read books. My parents and their parents are avid readers and they prefer books over e-books. I know people who cannot read a computer screen or any screen for long periods of time due to eye conditions.

There’s only one person in my family that reads e-books and that’s it. Yes, e-books are increasing and yes there are less bookstores, libraries, and paperback books. However, there’s still many people who will always prefer books over e-books. Maybe in the year 3000 there will be no books whatsoever… once the people who have loved books die off. That’s a joke by the way.

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.

Yes, this is true… somewhat. You have absolute control over your books, including the price. You can change your book price however you feel like. However, if you have already bought a barcode like I have… you might find it difficult to change the price, because you may need to buy another barcode for that. I have five by the way, so I don’t mind using one more for my book.

I just wouldn’t keep changing my price all the time, but that’s just me. I don’t mind discounts or coupons. There’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t mind if one week your book is free and the other week, it’s not. For me, I don’t want my books for free, because they have a disclaimer and I don’t want children reading my books. If you feel the need to change your book price, please don’t stop on my account. It’s your book price, it’s your choice!

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!

Once again, if you feel you need an editor by all means get one. If not and you can self-edit your manuscript on your own, go right ahead. You can always use beta readers, your friends, you parents, etc etc at your disposable. Just remember, an editor isn’t everything. Yes, they may help somewhat, but an editor can’t tell you if your book will sell or not.

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!)

Technically — this is still true. If not, please ignore it…

Here lies a Good Man...

Hopefully, this will explain things for some people and if not… pretend that I don’t exist.

5 thoughts on “The New Pros and the Cons: Which Path is Best for You? Traditional vs. Self-Publishing

  1. You make a lot of great notes in this post. A lot of which I have read before but are still really important. I don’t know much about self publishing so reading this helped me learn a lot.

    There at always going to be people who don’t understand jokes or who are going to nit-pick or however that’s spelled. Never spelled it before.

    1. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and commenting. I’m glad you found this post helpful. If I can help one person out there in the world or make someone laugh, that’s fine by me.

      And yes, there will always people who won’t understand the underlying joke. ;p That’s alright. Thanks hon for stopping by! Come visit me whenever you feel like.

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