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Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing

By Kassie J Runyan

You just typed the last work of your manuscript or your poetry collection and you want to get it in the hands of the masses. You are filled with excitement on seeing everyone buy your book and dream of a day where you see your book sitting in the shelf of a bookstore alongside your favorite authors. Or even think that there might be a time where you can quit your full time job and spend your days writing. So how do you get to that next step?

Many people turn to google and start researching, or head to facebook groups which are filled with bad advice, some might just ignore that completely and chose the first vanity publisher or self-publishing platform they find… in a hurry to get the book out the door. Approximately 3,000 books are published every day. And many from authors that rushed the process with a self-designed cover or lack of editing - just trying to get it out the door. You don’t have to be an expert in editorial, layout, cover design, query letters, author blurbs, websites, promotion, social media, ISBNs, author legalities, early reviews, etc…

That’s what publishing coaches are for. To help you determine what your publishing goals are against realistic expectations… and help you get there. They aren’t publishers. They are coaches, helpmates, sounding boards, editors, designers, and a reliable source of truth.

We will also be here to help you navigate the waters over the upcoming issues!



In traditional publishing – the publisher is the link between your book and your audience. The first step of most traditional publishing paths is going to be getting an agent. That requires you, as the author, to scout and pitch to agents in search of the right one. The agent then pitches to the publishing houses. The goal is to get signed on by a publisher and receive a book advance and then royalties as well.


You receive validation as an author – with people knowing that a publishing house sees enough promise in your book to investing it

The publishing costs are paid by the publisher so if your book doesn’t sale you aren’t out that initial investment

The publishing house will take care of everything – printing, editing, design, distribution, etc. (although you will need to make sure it’s edited prior to agent queries)

The book will be in traditional bookstores


It is very time consuming – it can take years of weekly submissions before finding an agent and then a publisher. And then it can take another year or more to publish after the book is sold

You give up much of your control in editing and design

Publishing contracts rarely favor the author. They are intentionally complicated and heavy in legal terminology and tend to favor the publisher

Royalty rates are lower than self-publishing



Self-publishing is becoming more common place and no longer has the same taboo that it used to have. There are many self-publishing platforms available and self-published books now account for almost 30% of all book sales worldwide.


Every book can get published – even ‘risky investments’

Once you are ready to publish (post edit, layout, etc) the process from submission to ready to buy can take as little as 2 days

You can make changes and republish at any time – or just replace in the same listing many times

You can track all of your own sales, manage specials, promotions, etc

You have full creative control

Books get a longer shelf life at bookstores and will be continuously listed on online bookstores

Royalties are typically higher than traditionally published books


How well your book does – rests with you. You need to be prepared to invest time and money into up front promotion, mailing lists, reviews, etc

You will cover costs – such as editorial, cover design, marketing, and promotion

You will spend more time away from writing and more time on promotion, marketing, and upkeep

It takes more in-person initiative for stores to stock your book and to prove that you have a following which will drive people to purchase it


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