Congratulations, you’ve finished writing your book, polished and refined it, and are ready to seek fame and fortune as a published author. You plan to publish with a traditional publishing house and have never given self-publishing much thought. You want to make money right away and know it won’t cost you anything to publish a book through a traditional publisher. In fact, you’ll make a nice advance.
However, I would caution you to rethink that decision. Traditional publishing may seem like the way to go for a new author—publishing houses have money and know-how to throw behind your book to help make it a success. But there are many disadvantages to working with one of the big publishing houses that will have you wondering where you can self-publish your book instead. Here are five reasons you shouldn’t publish your book through a traditional publisher.
1) The Gatekeepers
A lot of authors think that if they get rejected by an agent that their work must not be good enough for publication. The truth is that a lot of the time, the agent you query will never even see your query letter. Instead, it will be read by at least one intern or assistant and accepted or rejected by them before the agent reads the cream of the crop.
I know from my own experience working in publishing that interns are often tired from late-night papers and early classes. They could be in a bad mood from a fight with a roommate. It doesn’t seem fair that your publishing dreams should hinge on a college-aged intern or assistant whose bad mood has nothing to do with you, but may cause them to reject your story.
The agent, for that matter, could also be in a poor mood when they read your query letter—if they get to. Should these gatekeepers enjoy your query letter enough to read your sample (if the agent even asked for one), the most common sample is just ten measly pages. If you really believe in your story, you should be able to put it out there without gatekeepers standing in your way.
When you’ve thought of how much it costs to publish a book through a traditional publisher, you have probably thought that it wouldn’t cost anything. Not only that, but the publisher will pay you an advance for the privilege of publishing your book.
But publishing is a long game. Yes, you may have some advance money now, but later down the line, any publisher is going to take 80-90% of the royalties your book makes. A publisher may help with editing and promotion, but does that really mean they should make nine out of each ten dollars of your profits?
You worked hard on your book and with self-publishing, you can receive a much higher percentage of the profits. With Amazon KDP you can earn 30-70%. With a site like Fictionate.Me you will receive 100% of the profits from your book, and Fictionate will promote your book both on the site and through social media.
3) Lack of Promotion
Speaking of promotion, you probably expect that a big publishing house will put a lot of promotional force behind your book. And if they think your book will be a bestseller, they will. But publishers buy plenty of books that they barely promote. The Internet is full of published authors complaining that their publisher did nothing to promote their book and that they had to track down guest posts and interviews themselves.
A platform like Amazon KDP will promote your book without you having to lift a finger. It will recommend your book to potential readers both on the site and through promotional emails. You can also sign up for Amazon KDP Select, which will allow you to run promotions where your book is free or discounted. As mentioned, platforms like Fictionate.Me will promote your book on their sites and across social media.
You may think you’ll be able to avoid doing promotional work on your book by going with a big publisher. But there’s a good chance that you’ll be mostly on your own, and there are plenty of self-publishing sites that will promote your book and give you a much bigger slice of the profits.
4) The Schedule
The minute you sign a publishing contract, your life will become full of soul-crushing deadlines. You will need to have revisions and additional materials done by certain dates, and those dates do not tend to be flexible.
Self-publishing, conversely, goes as fast or slow as you want. Maybe your schedule only allows for you to dedicate an hour a week to publishing your book. If you self-publish, you can make that schedule work. Or perhaps you want to be published by tomorrow. With plenty of self-publishing sites, you can make that happen.
Whereas with a traditional publishing house, your schedule will likely be one to two years before you see your book in print. Wouldn’t you rather control how quickly your book goes out than hand the reins over to someone else?
5) Creative Freedom
One of the most important things you give away when you sign a contract with a traditional publishing house is your creative freedom. You have to answer to editors and copy editors who may not have the same vision for your book that you do.
Advance money can be nice, but you really can’t put a price on creative control of the novel you have spent countless hours toiling over. A lot of editors will try to mold your book into something they think will sell, even if that’s not what you originally envisioned for your story.
You owe it to yourself and your creative vision to seize control over your book. Self-publishing allows you to tell your story your way without having to compromise. Instead of blindly accepting an editor, you can search online for an editor who really seems to click with you and understand what you’re going for.
It may seem like traditional publishing is the way to go, but I hope this list has shown you the reasons why self-publishing is the superior choice. Now you’re ready to figure out where you can self-publish and take the reigns of your creative destiny.
Author’s Bio: Jillian Karger was born in Ohio but has lived in and around New York City for over a decade. Since graduating from NYU in 2009, Jillian has had a long string of jobs doing things like scouting books to be adapted for film and researching trivia questions for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”.
Follow her blog posts about books and writing advice, read books and publish them for free at: https://www.fictionate.me.