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Do authors prefer traditional publishing to self-publishing?

13 January 2014

Dana Beth Weinberg has written about the recently-released figures showing that most American authors prefer traditional publishing to self-publishing: ‘ The recent Digital Book World and Writer's Digest Author Survey showed that among the authors surveyed who had completed manuscripts, surprisingly few expressed a preference to indie publish their latest ones. Among traditionally published authors in the survey sample, only 7.5% expressed a preference to self-publish rather than to traditionally publish, compared to 10.1% of aspiring, 35.1% of self-published, and 29.8% of hybrid authors. While interest in self-publishing was higher among those respondents who had tried it, few authors reported that they only wanted to self-publish their next book.'

What does this tell us about what authors want? Well, it's probably not surprising that most authors would prefer to be published by a traditional publisher. In fact, even if you had self-published, you might feel that you would prefer to go the traditional route if your self-publishing had not been particularly successful. You might also not want to spend the time on self-publishing, which even, or perhaps especially quite successful self-publishing or indie authors might feel, as it's certainly a huge amount of work of a kind which not every author can manage. What's more, many writers would simply rather concentrate on their writing and leave publishing it to someone else.

For many self-publishing authors, including a number of extremely successful ones, self-publishing has been, or at least might be, a means of finding a traditional publisher. A new paradigm is beginning to emerge, one in which publishers watch self-publishing authors very carefully and sign them up as soon as they do well. This is because the hard work of building an audience has already been done by the author but it's also crucially because the risk has been taken out of the acquisition of that author, and that enormously strengthens the editor's hand in-house.

Publishers, working their way through a recession and then digitisation, ebooks and vast changes in how books aare sold - the biggest upheaval in the publishing business since Caxton - have become extremely risk-averse. But many authors will still want them to work on their behalf. It's just beginning to look as if one of the best ways of achieving this is through becoming a successful self-publisher. That means that it pays to publish your own book if you are becoming impatient with traditional publishing, but to do so as well as you can, both in terms both of what you're publishing and how you're doing it.

2014 Author Survey: Indie Authors and Others Prefer Traditional Publishing...Slightly | Digital Book World