which is better, standard or self-publishing

Do you prefer standard or self-publishing? 

The “standard or self-publishing” question is relatively new, for until recently, the best way to publish a book was through one of the New York publishing houses.

However, the publishing industry has undergone tremendous changes in the past few decades.

As a result, it is now much easier for you to become an author via self-publishing than through “standard” publishing. But is self-publishing the right approach for you?

Let’s put the “standard or self-publishing” question into perspective by looking at the pros and cons of each approach.

Standard publishing pros and cons

Standard publishing – Pros

  • Having your book published by a recognized publisher gives you instant credibility.
  • You may receive a decent, or even substantial, advance payment.
  • The production costs (editing, printing, etc.) are paid for by the publisher.
  • Your book will be presented in the publisher’s catalog and at industry trade shows.
  • The publisher takes care of distribution to bookstores and other venues, lists it on Amazon, and so on.

 Standard publishing – Cons

  • You must begin by writing either an extensive book proposal or the full manuscript, then hope a publisher will be intrigued enough to publish your book.
  • You must already have an author platform significant enough to attract a publisher’s attention.
  • There’s a long delay between initial presentation of the idea to the publisher and publication—at least a year, most likely longer.
  • You lose control over the title, cover design, and other elements of your book.
  • You earn a very small fee for each book sold.
  • There’s a good chance the publisher will decide that your book is “mid-list” and give it little or no publicity support.
  • The publisher can relegate your book to “out of print” status, or worse, keep it in print but do little with it, effectively leaving your book in limbo.
  • You cannot overly promote yourself, your company, or your products in your book.

The standard route makes sense for certain people.

If you’re already a VIP with a significant media platform, the traditional publishers will be eager to publish your book and will likely give it promotional support. But if you’re not, well…

Barry Fox, Nadine Taylor, ghostwriters, memoirs, business books, art books, history books, health books

Self-publishing pros and cons

Thanks to changes in technology, the media and the Internet, self-publishing is increasingly popular and a potentially profitable way to go. 

Is it better approach than having your book released by one of the major New York publishers? Surprisingly, the answer is often yes.

Self-publishing – Pros

  • You’re the one who decides that your book will be published; you don’t have to write a proposal and hope to interest a publisher.
  • You don’t have to have a big author platform at the outset in order to interest a published. Instead, you can use your book to develop one.
  • You can move quickly, potentially going from the initial idea to the published book in just a few months.
  • You have full control over your book’s content and design.
  • You stand to make more money per book sold—two, three, even five times what a publisher will typically pay.
  • You can keep your book in print as long as it suits you.
  • You can reprint the book as fast as you can sell copies, and even put out a new edition should your business plans or products/services change.
  • You can promote yourself, your company, and products in your book.

Self-publishing – Cons

  • You pay all the production costs.
  • You are responsible for all of the marketing.
  • You are in charge of distributing the book, whether on your own, through a distribution service, via Amazon, etc.
  • You are entering into a new business arena, which can seem intimidating.

Standard or self-publishing – Which is best for you? 

It all depends on how you intend to use your book; in other words, what you would like your book to do for you. Read our article titled “Why Are You Writing Your Book?” for more on that topic.


Barry Fox, Nadine Taylor, ghostwriters, memoirs, business books, art books, history books, health books

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