Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing vs. Self-Publishing: Which Is Best?

By Henry DeVries, CEO, Indie Books International


As an author I have published with traditional publishers, indie publishers, and I have self-published. Each has a place.

A brand name traditional publisher that pays you an advance on royalties, such as McGraw-Hill or Penguin, can boost credibility for a consultant. One author I know always is sure to name drop that her book is from Stanford University Press.

The trick to get such a traditional deal is the author has to write a proposal that convinces the publisher that it cannot lose on this book because the author has a platform and is going to work tirelessly to promote the book. Brand name publishers want to know that the author can sell 10,000 copies of a book a year.

But there are tens of thousands of publishers in the United States. If an author is with a traditional publisher that no one has heard of, there is no brand equity there. Some traditional publishing companies will offer no advance on royalties because it knows the author will sell thousands of books (with the author being the biggest purchaser of books).

Self-publishing always had a stigma before the digital age, but two technological advances were game changers: print-on-demand publishing and With print-on-demand there no longer was the economy of scale need to print thousands of books to get a low printing cost. With Amazon and other online retailers, there was no need to have a sales force that got the book into bookstores so the public could buy.

Indie publishing is really a hybrid between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Like indie films or indie music, the creator of the content owns the product and hires professionals to assist them produce a quality product. Authors benefit from higher royalties and much lower author costs of books.

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