My novellas, Life After Him and Me Without You, were self-published. Unbroken Spirit and Love’s Sacrifice were published with a small traditional publisher. Have I made big money on any of them? No, but most authors make $2000 or less a year on their books unless they’re a big name. There are pros and cons to both self-publishing and working with a traditional publisher. Hopefully this list will help you decide what route you want to go.
1. It’s all on you
I’m a people-pleaser, so I don’t like to disappoint anybody. I have had an amazing and understanding traditional publisher, but if I don’t do enough marketing or sell enough books, then I feel I’m letting my publisher down. That’s some tough pressure.
2. You can work at your own pace
I didn’t realize how hard it was to write on a deadline until I wrote the sequel to my Mystic Hope Series. I couldn’t ever relax, because I felt any downtime I had needed to be spent writing. And writing because I had to really put a damper on my creativity and motivation.
3. You can write exactly what and how you want
In the world of publishing, especially in Christian fiction, there are certain rules that you have to follow (certain words you can’t use, certain topics to avoid, etc). I understand that the Christian fiction industry doesn’t want to offend anybody, but there are some instances where using the word “crap” really represents a character’s personality, and the word that it’s replaced with takes away from who the character is.
4. You get most of your royalties
I’ve used Lulu Press and Amazon Direct Publishing, and both pay me most of what I make off my book sales. Whereas with traditional publishing houses the publisher takes a huge chunk of your sales. Thankfully, my publisher is very fair.
1. Publishers know what they’re talking about
Publishers know what people want to read. So if they change your story in a way that may be hard to stomach, they’ve done so because they know what will sell. However, if they want to change it to the point that you feel you no longer have ownership or pride over your work, then find a different publisher.
2. Publishers have professional editors
When I’ve self-published, I’ve had friends and family look over my work to find any spelling/grammatical errors. None of them are professional editors, so some mistakes have slipped through the cracks. Traditional publishers have the eyes for finding those mistakes that can take away from a good story.
3. Publishers know how to promote your book
When you self-publish, you have to do all the marketing on your own. When you traditionally publish you still have to market your books, but a traditional publisher knows the important platforms to promote it, and your book gets the exposure it probably wouldn’t get when self-publishing.
4. The credentials of being traditionally published
There seems to be a stigma about self-publishing that you’re not a real author, because anybody can self-publish whether or not they have talent. Having the backing of a publishing house gives one professional writing credentials.
If you decide to go with a traditional publisher, don’t choose one that makes you pay them to publish your book. That is a scam. Do your research on the company’s reputation. Then, find out how the company prefers to receive manuscripts. Most require a query letter first. When you send a query letter, read, re-read, and triple read the requirements. If you don’t follow the publisher's query protocol, then they won’t give you a second glance.