6 FAQ to Help You Decide Self-publishing or Traditional Publishing
When you’re deciding which publishing route to take, you often consider whether you should choose self-publish or traditionally publish. Of course, there are many factors worth considering beyond your personal preference or inclination to help you decide how you choose to publish your book. In this post, we will discuss six faqs to help you decide traditional publishing or self-publishing.
1. Do you expect to see the book on the shelves of bookstores across the country?
Self-publishing is nearly impossible to achieve widespread book distribution in physical stores. In most cases, a self-published book will be sold primarily online, either as a print book or as an e-book.
2. Do you want your work to appear on bestseller lists or get attention from mainstream media?
Mainstream publishers, whether online or offline, will have bestseller lists. If this is your appeal, you need the support of traditional publishers. Although media attention is widespread, the influence of traditional publishers is still very huge.
In niche markets, self-published books are increasingly gaining prominence and receiving increased media coverage. If a writer has a certain amount of self-media accumulation, the possibility of gaining exposure becomes greater and greater.
Generally speaking, traditional booksellers have a closer relationship with traditional media. But new media is still a place where many parties compete and compete. There are opportunities but also competition.
3. Does the book appeal to a specific audience that you yourself can reach?
There’s little point in working with a traditional publisher if your book’s readers are people you already have easy access to. Whether through your own business, social media, or any other means that allows you to reach readers.
However, if you don’t have a targeted readership, or your target market is highly competitive. Then publishers can play a role in sales pitches through their platform attributes.
4. What are the characteristics of the audience or market you are targeting?
Some types of work are ideal for self-publishing because the audience is often familiar with e-book reading and relatively concentrated online communities exist. Romance novels (especially erotic romance novels or erotic romance novels) are a typical example.
But there are also some markets where you’ll find it hard to gain traction because they’re still relatively resistant to the e-book model. That’s the market for literary fiction: it’s hard to gain recognition in the literary community unless you’re chosen by an editor, and readers of literary fiction still prefer print books.
Children’s books—especially books for young readers. They are another market dominated by traditional publishers. It is difficult for self-publishing to break into this field. The challenges come not only from reading media, but also from sales channels, professional evaluation, content review, etc.
5. How entrepreneurial are you?
Being a self-published author means you are solely responsible for the success of your book. If you’re a first-time author, you probably don’t know much about professional publishing. You may not understand the editing or design process, how sales and distribution works, etc.
You need to have an entrepreneurial mindset, and it’s not easy. You’ll learn the publishing business, and of course you can outsource some of the work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—as a self-published author, you can hire whoever you want. Working with a team itself is also an important sign of being good at business.
You will need to work with multiple professional teams in multiple aspects, including editing, design, distribution and marketing. You also need to know how to package yourself and stay active on social media. For some, this is the fun part, then self-publishing can be a fun-filled process.
6. Do you want validation, guidance, and support from your publisher?
Some authors have always dreamed of working with a traditional publisher and becoming deeply involved in the field. This is a very valid reason. In fact, the more you understand about traditional publishing, the better you can help you identify the publishing channels that are best for your work.
Some people will be disappointed with traditional publishing. Some don’t. Authors’ experiences vary widely and it is difficult to generalize. The key is to discover the characteristics of these experiences and judge what is suitable for your own work.
Don’t Think of Self-Publishing as a Shortcut to Traditional Publishing
Many people choose to self-publish, but they still hope to get attention from traditional channels through their efforts in this regard, and ultimately successfully obtain a publishing contract. 99% of the time it will fail. Once a book is self-published, it will basically not get attention from traditional channels. Except in rare cases where a popular online novel will be re-released through traditional channels, but as I said, that’s 1% Case.
So if you don’t want to self-publish, don’t consider this path, especially for a series. If a traditional publisher isn’t interested in the first book, they’ll almost never accept the second book in the series when the first book is self-published. Although, there are exceptions. But is your story that unicorn?
On the Issue of Lack of Patience
Some writers self-publish primarily because they are impatient with the submission process for traditional publishing. Or they want to cash in as quickly as possible, or they have blind confidence in self-marketing. However, this is also one of the worst reasons to self-publish. Many authors choose to self-publish because they “don’t want to wait,” which can result in the loss of a good story. If you’re interested in traditional publishing, first be patient. Continuously submit manuscripts, and then publish at your own expense after running out of resources. Don’t let an opportunistic mentality hold you back in this regard.
Regarding Income Issues
Self-publishing can potentially make you more money. But this also depends on the book itself and the specifics of the contract.
Income and risk are also equal. It’s often not about content, but about marketing. In terms of content, the success rate of self-publishing is not different than traditional publishing. Only a few authors end up becoming superstars, while most don’t make a living from it. However, self-published authors face significant risks when it comes to marketing, including guaranteeing sales, market penetration, publicity, and promotion. A self-publishing venture usually takes a few years—four or five books—to gain traction and generate a decent income. This is something you need to consider as well.
Every author is different and every book is different. If you know your target market and understand your goals, you should be able to figure out a suitable publishing strategy.
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