Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.

Choosing Your Path: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing


Oh no, could it be? Is this another one of those generic “Let’s show pros and cons” blog posts? Maybe. Perhaps every single word I type on my laptop keyboard is just the same thing someone else has already said; I could be repeating things everyone has heard.

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

I’m still writing it, so sit back and read these words that you might have heard before, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear something unique – something that will pique your interest. Something unique to me. Will you? I don’t know. Let’s take that journey together.


Let me give you a taste of the pros in this matter:

  • You earn more royalties – up to 70% on Amazon.
  • You choose the prices.
  • You avoid the hassle of finding an agent, then publisher.
  • You make your own schedule.
  • You pay for printing.
  • You choose what stays and what goes.
  • You have full influence over the cover design.
  • You make all the decisions.
  • In short, you are the boss.

However, each pro has a con to go with it. Let me share those:

  • You pay for editing, cover design, formatting, etc.
  • You deal with advertising, as well as accompanying costs.
  • Planning takes away writing time.
  • A heavy workload induces stress.

As you can see, while there are many pros, the cons are there to balance it out. In the end, it’s a risky move and writers need to consider their options, all of their options, before they jump off the deep end. Is self-publishing for you? It might be, but let’s take a look at the other option before making any hasty decisions.

Traditional Publishing

So, you would rather go for the traditional method – get published through publishers. It might be for you, so let’s take a look, shall we? After all, the self-publishing world has much to offer, but that doesn’t mean traditional publishing is old school! Let’s start with the pros:

  • You pay nothing up front.
  • Editing, cover design, and production gets managed for you.
  • You could receive an advance.
  • Some advertising might be provided.

So, there are some pros, but are there cons? Of course. Black and white, evil and good – opposites. Two sides of the same coin and I’ll show you the darker side now:

  • Low royalties, generally between 7,5% and 15%, depending on the version of the book; paperback, hardback, eBook.
  • Long wait times, often years, before an agent accepts you, and longer still for publishers.
  • Advertising is often not provided and falls on your shoulders.
  • The advance is often not jaw-dropping, nor paid out at once.
  • Less input on editing.
  • Even less on cover design.

I do not claim that all these things are true for every publisher, nor that these are the only pros and cons. These are common ones that people think about the most and are very important when considering which path to take.

Self-publishing may seem like the right choice, but it is also a lot of work if not handled correctly. Traditional publishing might not seem worth it, but it depends on your relationship. Relationships must be nurtured and if you land an agent and a publisher, those relationships are no different.

The important thing to remember is that if you can do something, then why shouldn’t you? One of my favorite lines from the song “Nine in The Afternoon” by Panic! At the Disco, is the following:

You could ’cause you can so you do.

What does this mean? If you could potentially do something, then it means you can do it and if that’s the case, what’s stopping you? Take the plunge and do it!

Because whether you choose the path of self-publishing or go the traditional route, there’s one thing to remember: It’s a choice. In the end, you must make the decision. Weigh the odds, check out the competition; heck, give both a try if you’re not sure!

Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to take action. If you do that, nothing will stop you.

Author: Natasha McNeely

I'm a writer, reader, gamer and a dreamer. I love losing myself to thought and considering possibilities. That is how I create my stories and weave the erratic tales into readable ones.

10 thoughts on “Choosing Your Path: Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

  1. All perfectly legitimate points! The biggest hurdle for many in going independent is a kind of professionalism. Learning how to make sure you are putting out the best product; why the rules (the many, many, MANY rules) of writing and grammar and editing exist and ensure you’re following them in your books; hiring a quality editor, cover artist/designer, interior layout designer, etc, and knowing they are, in fact, good at what you’re paying them to do; what kind of personal image best represents you to your audience; the list continues. In a big traditional publishing house, those concerns are generally handled by individuals who have specialised in those things. Knowing what is best for your book takes a lot of self-education. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with people self-publishing (after all, I’m heading down that track XD), but the product must go through as much quality control if you want it to compete with traditional books.


    • I agree: That idea of making sure you only put out the best you have and figuring out how to do so is the biggest hurdle. There’s that urge to just say, “Oh, I just wrote this; let’s dump it onto Kindle!” without doing any proper editing.
      In the end, every person has to make their own choice. Like you said, a lot of this stuff is handled by publishers, but on the other hand, it does take power away from the author. Each author has to make their own decision and once they’ve done that, they can delve into researching how best to go about it.

  2. Thanks for the tips! I think I dream of finding a traditional publisher one day- but, I’ve got to get my book together before I can even go down that road. πŸ™‚ Dreams. πŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for sharing that, before reading this post, I had absolutely no clue. Not that I was looking at writing a book soon, but it actually sounds doable now! Woo hoo!


  4. My biggest hurdle with all of this is the marketing…I just dont have the time! Seen as I can’t win whichever choice I make, it makes me just want to give up, feel like not bothering! And then I remember that giving up wont get me anywhere, plodding along, writing, blogging and occassionally tweeting is at least a starting point, and as long as you that, you are on your way.

    • That is a great starting point and to be honest, marketing doesn’t need to be much more. It can be as simple as contacting a few book bloggers to review your book and other things like that; interacting through Twitter and your blog is another large part of it.
      It’s all about managing your time; because really, how long does it take to write a tweet on Twitter? πŸ™‚

      • Oh i absolutely agree, but, I dont ever feel I have the time to truly engage in twitter. It is one of those things that you have to take time initially to get cracking, plus, since my blackberry died on me, I cant dip in and out as frequently as I would like. I agree, this sounds like a very weak excuse – I think my heart just isnt in it at the moment and that is what is key to all of this – YOU HAVE TO WANT IT. Right now for me, I just want to write!

      • You are very right! You have to want it, or else all you’re doing is forcing yourself to do something you don’t want, and that is counterproductive. Keep on writing! =)

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