What is the Difference Between Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing, and Hybrid Publishing?
July 29, 2021

Once an author has a finished manuscript, there are a couple of possible routes to take to bring that book to life.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

Traditional book publishing is the route that all of the books on the shelf at Barnes & Noble went through. It’s a fast-paced, tough-to-break-into industry filled with literary agents, contracts, publishers, and buyers and distributors.

Pros

      • The author doesn’t pay anything upfront.
      • When author sells rights to the publisher, sometimes the author gets an advance.
      • Publisher carries all the financial risk (Not agent, author, distributor, nor bookstore.) This is why they are so risk adverse.
      • Publisher knows the industry very well. Have great editors, cover designers, and marketing experts.
      • Publisher handles all of the marketing, distribution, and warehousing of your book.
      • This is the only route that has access to major distribution channels and typically results in much wider distribution and more sales than self-publishing, by far.

Cons

      • Nearly impossible to get into. Most major publishers don’t even accept unsolicited manuscripts. Only accept from Literary Agents. And even agents are very hard to get picked up by because receive hundreds of thousands of requests per year.
      • Traditional Sales Process: typically 2 years from time author signs contract until book hits the shelves. Barnes & Noble needs new books pitched to them 4 months before launch date.
      • Publishers pitch thousands of books to Distributors. Thousands of distributors pitch thousands of books to Bookstores. Then Bookstore has to decide which books to put on the shelves.
      • 30% of Books that end up on shelves get returned. So even if your book makes it to the shelf in this way, that’s not the end of the road. Can be returned to the distributor where they’ll end up sitting in a warehouse and never read and you won’t get paid.
      • Author still expected to do lots of marketing. An author’s influence (social media, # of names on newsletter, and blog site visits) = gold to a publisher.
      • The publisher owns the rights to the book, not the author.
      • The publisher maintains final creative control over the editing and production process, not the author.
      • The publishers’ primary motive is to sell books, and their decisions are made based on what will sell the most books. This may not be a con, but it does mean that if an author feels sentimentally attached to some creative aspect of their content, ultimately, the publisher gets to make the final call.

If you have a promising manuscript, an open market for a primed audience, and a contact in the traditional publishing world, it’d most certainly be in your interest to consider pursuing this route.

 

SELF-PUBLISHING

Self-publishing is a great alternative for talented authors who may otherwise never get “discovered” in a big way, or who need a book to put in their followers’ hands, or who have a wide enough influence that they can make it worth their while from marketing and selling to their specific audience.

Pros

      • The author retains creative control
      • The author owns all the rights to books
      • It’s a relatively quick tool to reach an already existing audience directly
      • The author keeps 100% of royalties (as opposed to traditional publishing route where author typically makes 15-30% of the publisher’s revenue in royalties)
      • If you work with us, you benefit from the input of experienced editors and cover designers to make your book competitive in an overcrowded market

Cons

      • Author carries the financial risk (author pays for the editing, printing, and marketing of the book)
      • No access to the traditional sales channels (nobody can pitch your book to the buyer at Barnes & Noble. That path is for Traditional Publishing only).
      • Marketing, distributing and storing books is responsibility of the author