top of page

The Great Debate: Traditional vs. Self-Publishing

It's a decision every author will have to make at one point or another. Do you go with trying to get your book out with a traditional publishing house or do you take the leap and self-publish? Which one is right?

Well, the good news is that there really is no wrong answer to this. It all depends on what you want and what works for you. But, it does pay to be informed about the options. I'll hit a few high points for each, and encourage you to further research each option and ask other authors about the topics I discuss below.


1. The Query Letters

Oh, the query letters. You'll write dozens, and if you're lucky, you'll get a nice, personalized rejection letter. I say this jokingly, but in reality it can be very difficult to get a traditional house to request a sample or full copy of your work. It takes hard work, persistence, and most of all, patience. You won't hear back from them right away, if at all. They are bombarded with thousands of query letters and just don't have the time to reply to them all.

2. Lack of control with your work

Yay, you got a publishing deal! Now what? Well, now they'll edit your book, choose your cover, set your release date and price point, etc. And you won't get much of a say in any of the process, if any say at all. Your book may go out to the masses, but you have to relinquish control over your book's future to get it.

3. Getting Personal

My thought is, in a big traditional house, you probably won't get very much personal service. They crank out the books at a pretty good pace, meaning they won't have a lot of time for individual attention. I could be wrong, but this is what my impression would be.


1. You're on your own

Literally, it's all you. The finding (and paying for) an editor. The finding (and paying for) a cover designer, if you don't have that skill set (I'm lucky to have a background in design and Photoshop, so I can do my own covers). You have to come up with your own marketing and release plans. All of this on top of writing the books. It's basically a full-time job (or, for people like me with full time jobs already, a second job).

2. Total control

On the flip side of traditional publishing, you have complete and total control of everything to do with your work. You pick everything, from the cover to the editor to when you release. Perfect if you're a control freak like me. lol

3. The Money

Self-pubbing means everything cost related comes out of your pocket, not the coffers of a big publishing house. There are authors who have spent thousands and thousands of dollars self-publishing, and are still struggling to make it work. It's a chance you take when you self-publish, which is why it's good to have a plan in place.


There is one thing that both types of publishing have in common. You are going to need to work your butt off in promoting and marketing your work if you want to succeed. Because the reality is, with traditional publishing, unless you're a big name bringing in big bucks for the publishing house, you're not going to get priority in the marketing money. In fact, you might not get any of the marketing money. And with self-publishing, there's no one else to front the bill, plain and simple.

I know this post sounds negative, even though it's not intended to be. When it comes to topics like this, I won't sugar coat things. Authors need to know these details in the harsh light of reality in order to make well-informed decisions about the future of their work.

We'll consider it a building block to future success.:)

bottom of page