Skip to Content

To self-publish or be traditionally published?

28 March 2016

The battle rages on about whether self-publishing or traditional publishing is best from the author's point of view and it all seems to come down to your own experience. If you're happily settled with a publisher and content with what they're doing for you, then of course you'll advocate that.

But if you've gone for self-publishing and made that work well, you'll be feeling bullish about it and no doubt enjoying the independence and control over your own work that it can bring. There are many for whom things are not clear-cut though and it is now very competitive on both fronts, with so much more resting on the individual author's efforts than there ever used to be.

If you self-publish, selling and marketing your book is going to be down to you, or whoever you pay to do it for you. But if you publish through a traditional relationship with a publisher, that doesn't let you off the hook either, as they will want you to play your part in marketing and promoting it.

A new venture has just been launched which seems at first sight to offer support to self-publishers - and so it does - but it is only interested in those who are already making a go of it. It's a directory of self-published authors, which sounds promising, but it only has 13 authors on board, so it's pretty much limited to those who have already established themselves in a pretty major way in the self-publishing field.

In the introduction the authors, Toby Munday and Orna Ross, say that: ‘The aim of this guide is to provide publishers all over the world, as well as colleagues from film and television, with an overview of some of the most exciting and successful authors in this new independent space. Each author in this guide has been selected according to rigorous sales criteria. Each wants to build even bigger audiences; each is open to different kinds of publishing and licensing deals.'

This looks like another way of supporting successful authors, so first you have to achieve that success so that they are interested in you. It sounds suspiciously like traditional publishing, where existing track record, or celebrity from another part of your life, can be so important.