Non-Fiction Authors: Should You Self-Publish Or Go Traditional?

Posted on Posted in Books, Thought Leadership

If you’re an expert, as some point, if you haven’t already, you may write a book, and one of the first questions people ask at this point is whether to self-pub or go with a traditional publisher.

Each option has pros and cons, and ultimately I would recommend you do both in your career, but here’s how to figure out whether your next book should be self-published or not.

The Pros of Traditional Publishing

  • It gives you credibility, because people know you’ve been vetted. People believe you’re credible and your idea is good. They’re willing to risk their time and money on you.
  • It forces you to go through the book proposal process which asks important questions about your audience and competing books.
  • They put you through a rigorous editing process.
  • They may give you an advance on royalties.
  • They may help you with getting more publicity and/or speaking gigs.

The Cons of Traditional Publishing

  • The process from start to finish may take at least 6 months. Even after editing is done, the book launch may be delayed for calendar reasons.
  • You still will have to do a lot of the promotion to sell the book.
  • You have to sell enough to “earn out” your advance.
  • Your ebook may be much more expensive than competing self-published works.
  • You probably can’t control the amazon description or keywords.
  • They may require right of first refusal on your next book idea.

The Pros of Self-Publishing

  • You can control the price, even make it free for a while for promotional practices.
  • You can sell paperbacks at a lower cost than traditional publishers.
  • You can control the amazon description and keywords. You can do keyword research and make sure they’re optimal.

The Cons of Self-Publishing

  • You may not get much feedback, unless you ask for itso your book may not be received as well by as many people.
  • You may decide not to pay for editing, end up with errors in your book, and get bad reviews because of it.
  • You may not be as rigorous about checking the market and competition to make sure you have the best chances of success.
  • It’s much harder to end up in traditional bookstores.

Overall Advice

  • If you’ve never published before, try a traditional publisher first. You’ll learn a ton about the process. You may find out that no publisher wants your book concept- and that may be because they don’t get it, or it might be you need a better book idea. You’ll get more credibility and build a firm foundation for the future.
  • If you decide to self-publish, put yourself through the book proposal process to think the whole thing through, and pay for editing. Ask peers to review your book when your first draft is done, then improve it based on feedback, then hire a professional line editor for the final draft.