Traditional vs. Indie Publishing

There are already tons of posts and articles about this on the web, but I figured I’d offer my views on them since I discuss this with a friend of mine regularly. I know a lot of people seem to think it should be one way or another, but as my previous posts have suggested, I’m not someone who thinks this is true. The only kind of publishing I don’t like is paying a company to publish you. Then it seems like the author is being taken advantage of, which is something I’m very much against.

These are my personal pros and cons to both sides, and please keep in mind that I’ve never been traditionally published, so don’t take my points as facts (I’m basing these on friends’ experiences and what I’ve heard, though I’m sure my points will be at least partially accurate).

Traditional Publishing
  • Editing: If you go with a trad publishing company, you don’t have to pay for editing up front.
  • Promotion: There will likely be at least *some* promotion done, though from what I’ve heard, it isn’t always a lot unless you’re a Big Name Author.
  • Advance: They offer you an advance toward your sales, which can be anything from $1,000 and up.
  • Bookstores: Trad publishing comes with bookstores. Yay!
  • Low royalty rates: ebooks come with ridiculously low royalty rates, and print rates are even lower.
  • Control: They pay the bills, so they have the final say in everything. From how your book is marketed, what goes on the cover/blurb, what does or doesn’t get changed, how much it’s going to cost, etc. Again, unless you’re a Big Name Author, your wants aren’t considered very much.
  • Payments: I’m sure this varies from house to house, but unless you make back your advance pretty quickly, you won’t see another penny for probably a year, if not longer.
  • Release date: Odds are, if you signed a contract today, your book wouldn’t be published for at least a year.

Indie Publishing
  • Control: You control everything, from your cover, to your release date, to your price.
  • Payment: Most places pay every few months. For example, with B&N, if you make $10 in royalties in August, then you’ll get your money in October.
  • Royalty rates: Your choice here. Price your book at $2.99 or higher, and you’ll make at least $1.94 on each book (this does vary depending on where your book was purchased, however). Price your book below 2.99, and most places give you approximately 30% of the price. So even if you sell your book for $.99, you’ll make at least $.30 per copy sold–which can be more than most traditional publishers.
  • Money: Indie publishing doesn’t come with advances, so any expenses you have are yours and usually have to be paid up front. This includes editing, formatting, book covers, etc. It can get expensive quick.
  • Pre-order/specials: With places like Amazon and B&N, it’s not possible to have your book available for pre-order. And unless you try to work the system and do some price-matching, you can’t really discount your book or set it for free. (But if you want to have a free-all-the-time book on B&N, you can do it through Smashwords. Unless you’re living outside of the US, I don’t recommend using Smashwords for B&N unless the story will always be free.)
  • Promotion: It’s all up to you. Getting reviews, getting the word out, etc. All of that is on you to handle, which can be hard and really time consuming.

For me, there are better pros with Indie publishing for my particular wants/needs. I’m not against traditional publishing, and I wouldn’t fault anyone for going that route, but it’s not for me, not right now. As I said in a previous post, I’d consider taking a trad deal if it met my goals/wants at the time.

What about y’all? Did I forget any pros or cons for either side? If you’re with a traditional publisher, would/have you considered indie publishing? If you’re indie publishing, would/have you considered going with a traditional publisher? Let me know!

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