Pros and Cons for Leaders to Consider

CEO at MindStir Media, an award-winning self-publishing company. Visit MindStir Media to self-publish a book.

Whether you’re a storyteller looking to share the next great piece of fiction or a businessman sharing advice in a book, publishing can open many doors.

But the tides are changing in the publishing world – traditional publishers no longer have a stranglehold on publishing. Using my experience as a USA today bestselling author, I’d like to go both ways to get your book published.

Traditional publishing

In traditional publishing, you work with a mainstream publisher to handle the creative process and distribution of your book. Traditional publishers usually pay an advance and royalties.

The advantage of traditional publishing is that you get more connections and an improved distribution network. Traditional publishers are heavyweights in the publishing world. If you land a traditional book deal, the publisher will use its connections to schedule interviews and events and help distribute your book to bookstores across the country.

That said, remember that traditional publishers have marketing budgets that allocate how many marketing dollars each release will receive, so a traditional publishing deal doesn’t guarantee you maximum marketing effort from the publisher with limited resources.

The main disadvantage of traditional publishing is that you get very little say in the creative process. The traditional route can be frustrating if you’re an author with a vision. Traditional publishers are usually more concerned with telling the story they think will sell than telling your story. Therefore, you may be asked to make changes to a manuscript that you don’t quite agree with, or even accept a cover that you don’t really prefer.

But another advantage is that you don’t need a large following to sell many copies. Traditional publishing’s large distribution network allows an undiscovered author to sell many copies of his book if the publisher is willing to support the project. For the select authors who take advantage of this, it can lead to a nice payday.

In general, you usually need an agent to go this route. As a result, not everyone can be published in the traditional way. You can have the best manuscript in the world and most traditional publishers won’t even read it unless it’s submitted by a literary agent. In theory, these agents should have a nose for talent and want to represent your manuscript when in fact it’s the best in the world, but that doesn’t always happen.

There are stories from authors who make millions of self-publishing after being rejected numerous times. That’s the biggest problem with literary agents as gatekeepers of traditional publishing houses: they don’t always get it right.

Self publish

Self-publishing means that you pay upfront for the publication of your book. You have a smaller distribution network behind the book, but retain full creative control. In a positive trend, many self-publishers are starting to match the offerings of traditional publishers.

The biggest pro is that you have more control over the process. If you want to tell you story, self-publishing is the safest way to ensure you can do just that. Self-publishing gives you full control over the creative process, including cover design, layout, and more. You can use many resources to help you if you wish, such as professional editing, promotional packs, and more, but in the end you have the final say on how your book looks.

The main drawback is that you pay most of the cost up front. On paper, this one stings; a traditional publisher pays you while you pay a self-publisher. But before you get lost in that detail, consider the following: Self-publishing is more of an investment. It’s a brand-building piece that can also be lucrative in the long run if you’re willing to jack up the initial investment. What makes it so lucrative?

There are significantly better royalties with self-publishing. The average royalty for a traditionally published book is: about 10% while self-publishing royalties can be as high as 75%. That means a traditionally published author forfeits a large portion of his or her royalties to take advantage of the publisher’s marketing and promotional resources. It’s a calculated risk.

This is an opportunity for the self-published author who isn’t afraid to rush and generate some of his or her own sales. There are several ways to market your self-published book, even if you’re not a big name in the writing world, from speaking engagement bookings to social media marketing.

A major disadvantage is that it is more difficult to gain visibility from the bookstore. But while it’s harder to get bookstore visibility for a self-published author, it’s far from impossible. While bookstores prefer books recommended by traditional publishers (particularly as part of nationwide campaigns), self-published authors can score bookstore shelf space by making an effort to make connections, organize book signings, and to promote books. It’s a more basic approach with better royalties as an incentive.

What will you choose?

There is no right or wrong answer in the self-published versus traditionally published debate. Instead, it’s more about what makes the most sense to you. Business Council is the leading growth and networking organization for entrepreneurs and leaders. Am I eligible?

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