The Pros and Cons of Traditional vs. Self-Publishing
The Process Time:
Traditional publishing is not called traditional because they are old fogies. Traditional publishing is basically “always been done this way.” In other words, an author writes; an illustrator draws; an editor and an art director suggest revisions (often several times); a copy editor proofs the entire work; it goes to the printer. This process from signed contract to print averages two years.
There are times when a traditional press can offer a contract, but then a story gets put aside for a while for any number of reasons. If your editor leaves your publishing house, your story belongs to that original publishing house. There it remains for a different editor to “love it”, which may or may not happen.
Self-published books, after being critiqued and revised a few dozen times, can be uploaded electronically by the author. From the time of upload to hard-copy of the finished work in the author’s mailbox can be as soon as a couple of weeks.
The reputation of the editors and the publishing houses are at stake with the stories they pick. They are certain to make it the very best it can be.
With self-publishing, sometimes the writer is not aware of changes in the market; sometimes the writer does not have beta readers other than family members; sometimes the storyline, characterization and language of the story are lacking.
Readers can trust traditionally published books. Readers do not know what to expect with self-published books, and there is not consistency in quality.
The End Product:
Again, traditional houses stake their reputations on their choices. They want it to be the best it can be.
Self-published authors also want their stories the best they can be, but usually do not have the huge funds, resources, or contacts available, and sometimes not the patience, to create a traditionally published, polished work of literary art.
Publicizing, Marketing, & Promotion:
Granted, traditional houses have tailored back in this area over the years, but generally, of the many books they publish each year, only a few are given the “love light”. These few are the ones the editorial group has agreed gets extra love (i.e., more money than the others in order to market and promote). The rest are worthy, just not as worthy.
Self-publishers have to do it all: write the story; edit it; find a competitive illustrator; research the self-publishing companies and weigh the options; let bookstores and businesses know about the book; nearly drown in social media outlets to announce its arrival; and hit the road to promote it, making all the contacts by him/herself. Plus, all of this is funded by the author, who during the marketing process is also working on the next work-in-progress).
Which is best for you, traditional or self-pub? Only you can decide.