How To Get A Book Published: Self-Publishing Vs Traditional Publishing

As a new author, one question that’s without a doubt on your mind is, how to get a book published? This is an important question that is usually followed by wondering which is better: traditional vs self-publishing.

If you’re feeling unsure, this article will answer all your self-publishing vs traditional publishing questions, give you the pros and cons of each, and help you to choose the best end result for your book.

How to get a book published

Differences between self-publishing vs traditional publishing

Before we talk about the publishing process let’s review the differences between traditional vs self-publishing.

Traditional publishing

Traditional publishing, according to, is when a publishing house takes care of all the aspects of publishing. This can include book design, professional editing, marketing, and sales.


Self-publishing is more hands-on, where the author is in charge of the publishing process.

Each of these processes requires different efforts from the author. As well as offering different benefits and challenges. Let’s review the pros and cons of both.

Pros of traditional publishing

One main advantage of traditional publishing is that once you land that book deal, the hard part is practically over. Here are some other advantages of traditional publishing.

Team support and no start-up cost

Traditional publishing has no start-up costs because you get to work with a team of professional editors and marketers paid for by the publisher, who are on a mission to get your book published.

Access to a wider reach

Traditional publishers can help your book get into major retailers and even into academic catalogs depending on our topic.

This in turn can open your work up to a much wider reach than if you were only self-promoting your book.

More credibility

In addition to professional support, traditional publishing gives your book more credibility. Having your book published by a known publishing company is similar to having a satisfaction-guaranteed stamp. People can automatically trust the quality of your work.

Yet this process isn't without some setbacks.

Cons of traditional publishing

Although there is less work on your part involved with traditional publishing here are some things to keep in mind.

Delay in time

One con to recognize is that traditional publishing is not a fast process. First, it can take months for an agent or publisher to accept your book.

Then once accepted, your manuscript will go through rounds of edits and fact-checking that can take months to complete. In addition, this editing process can take a toll on the originality of your work.

Possible loss of rights and creative control

Loss of rights means that you have to sign most or all of your book’s rights to the publishers. Meaning you won’t be able to use, sell, or republish your material.

The second loss comes with creative control. Having more professional editors and copy editors reviewing your work can make it even better. It can also be difficult to see your book go through changes that you might not agree with.

Pros of self-publishing

There are several benefits to self-publishing that allow authors more freedom when publishing their books.

Creative control

One of the best parts of self-publishing is creative control. You decide how to design the cover, how many chapters to include, and other creative elements.

Set your own price

When putting a price tag on your book you can determine the cost. If you're not sure which price to set, it’s best to look at how other books in your genre are priced and aim for a similar cost. But it’s really up to you.

Better royalties with a faster rate of publishing

Once your price is set, self-publishing often has better royalties. According to, with most self-publishers, the average in royalties is 70 percent.

In addition to higher royalties, authors often receive their earnings faster. This is because publishing time can happen in a matter of days rather than months.

Overall self-publishing allows you to oversee every step of the book publishing process.

Cons of self-publishing

Although there are many advantages to self-publishing, it’s important to consider the cons.

More responsibilities and higher costs

With self-publishing, authors are required to find editors, proofreaders, and printing companies, and be in charge of marketing. Everything from publication to sales falls on the author.

And this also means, having to come out of pocket to cover the associated costs.

Profit can be dependent on self-promotion

Without sufficient visibility, it can be difficult for your new book to penetrate the larger market. This is why self-promotion is important. However, it tends to be more of a challenge for new authors as the general public is unfamiliar with their work.

This additional work is why some authors prefer traditional publishing.

Now that you're aware of the positives and negatives of traditional vs self-publishing, let's take a look at one factor that is important no matter the form of publishing.

A crucial element in book publication, whether it be traditional or self-publishing, is choosing the correct genre for your book.

This decision helps put your book in front of audiences that are most likely to read it. Yet there are different rules to follow when it comes to traditional vs self-publishing.

Self-publishing genres

Ronnie L. Smith published an article on LinkedIn on the five most popular genres for self-publishing. These include romance, science fiction, young adult, fantasy/mystery/thriller, and suspense.

The article also mentions that non-fiction books don't do as well when self-published.

Traditional publishing genres

The romance, fantasy, and mystery genres also do well in traditional publishing. If your book falls under nonfiction, some common categories that tend to perform well include self-help, true stories, memoirs, cookbooks, biographies, and autobiographies.

With traditional publishing choosing the correct genre will help you when finding an agent or when sending your book directly to a publisher.

Some agencies and publishers only accept books from certain genres. Thus knowing your book genre can increase your chances of landing an agent or a book deal.

How to get a book published by self-publishing

Whether you’re ready to go the self-publishing route or want to know a little bit more about the process, here are the steps on how to get a book published through self-publishing.

1. Get feedback and make edits

Like a mother with her newborn baby, you may be shy about showing your pre-published book to others.

It’s not easy letting your pride and joy, aka your manuscript, be open to judgment, criticism, praise, and feedback. However, this part is necessary.

Feedback from trusted family members or friends gives you honest but encouraging feedback to make your book better. This insight can give you a fresh perspective on your material.

Once you get an opinion on how your book flows, it’s ready to be put under the microscope by an editor.

Having an editor is an important part of how to get a book published. After a few rounds of editing, your manuscript will be ready to print.

2. Find a self-publishing company and check payout rates

The main difference between self-publishing vs. traditional publishing is that you can choose which publishing company to work with. It’s crucial to go with a company that has a large audience so that your book is in front of more people.

According to Written Word Media here are some of the top self-publishing companies that can help put your book in front of millions.

Kindle Direct Publishing

Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP, is probably the most widely used self-publishing platform. They house over 80 percent of eBooks and have fair royalty and payout rates.

Apple Books

If you are a die-hard Apple fan you might want to consider Apple books for self-publishing your book. Your book will be available to read on the Apple Books app and also in the “ books” section of iTunes.

Barnes and Noble Press

Barnes and Noble Press is another great option. Since Barnes and Noble is an established company, it can lead to great exposure for your book.

There are also other great self-publishing companies out there that you can use if you prefer.

3. Decide between eBooks, printed copies or both

Another factor when considering self-publishing vs traditional publishing is creating an eBook or printed copy of your book.

When deciding how you want your books to be distributed into the world think about who your audience is and what they might prefer.

With that knowledge in mind, you’ll want to look into the printing costs and expenses for converting your book into an eBook. Some self-publishing companies do provide resources on printing and eBook conversion.

4. Design a book cover

Your book cover is the most important part of your book. Why? Because no one listens to the advice of not judging a book by its cover.

The book cover is the design that can draw potential readers in and make them interested in your book. The cover can also lead them to scroll on to the next book.

Many self-publishing platforms offer tools for you to design your own cover. But if you don’t feel that artistic, you can always hire someone to design your cover for you or leverage a great tool like the Canva book cover maker.

No matter who designs your cover, here are some things to include.

  • Create a clear idea you want to send to your readers
  • Choose typography that is clear and easy to read
  • Strong title and subtitle
  • Reviews and endorsements
  • Author bio
  • Catchy spine text

5. Set pricing

When you set a price for your hours of hard work, it can feel a little unsettling. To make the process simple consider your goal for your book.

If you want to reach as many readers as possible, then aim for a lower price point. However, if you want to make a certain amount of money aim for a medium to high price point.

Other things to consider are the prices of other books in your genre. Aim to have a similar price point, especially if you’re a new writer.

Lastly, you want to think about how much money you put into making your book. Remember that self-publishing often requires hiring outside support.

6. Publish your book

Once you have the price set, you’re ready to publish your book on the platform of your choosing.

To ensure a smooth process, be familiar with the formatting requirements for the publishing platform you’re using.

Once your book is submitted, it's reviewed before going public.

7. Marketing strategy

Now here comes a little more work. To help increase your sales you’ll need a marketing strategy. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an expert marketer to do this.

According to WSI world, one element of a strong marketing strategy is creating a compelling landing page. This page acts as a mini website that focuses solely on book sales.

Along with this, writing blog posts related to your eBook is a great way to connect to new readers.

Lastly, sharing on social media, and creating an email campaign are also great marketing tools.

Common mistakes authors make when self-publishing

Self-publishing can feel satisfying. After all, you not only wrote a book but you published one as well. However, you have to be extra careful not to fall into these potholes of mistakes.

A poorly edited manuscript

Having one or two professional editors will ensure that your text is flawless. Having small mistakes can turn readers off and distract them from getting the message you are trying to convey with your book.

Dull book cover

Don’t take the book cover for granted. If you’re wondering what makes a dull book cover, it can come down to the color, vibrancy, and hard-to-read text.

Notice the book covers that draw your attention. What is it about them that makes you want to pick up the book? Identify those elements and add them to your cover.

Book description

Once you draw them in with an interesting book cover, you don’t want to lose readers with a less-than-interesting book description.

Make sure you keep your description to 150 to 200 words so that it’s clear, straightforward, and written for your audience.

No marketing plan

Unfortunately, eBooks don’t sell themselves in the beginning. So you want to make sure you create a marketing plan that can help you generate consistent sales.

This could be adding your book to your website, creating an email campaign, and consistently posting on social media.

Poor categories

Placing your book in the right categories will not only help your book come up in searches, but your book will be in front of the correct audience. For instance, you don’t want your sci-fi book to end up in the romance section.

How to get a book published the traditional route

Now that you know more about self-publishing, you may be thinking it isn’t the route for you. If not, traditional publishing can help you get your book to print. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Find an agent

Finding an agent can seem intimidating. In fact, many authors question how to get a book deal with no agent. Yet working with professionals that know the industry, and have helped other authors publish their books can help you rather than hurt you.

The key to finding a good agent is to write a query letter. This is a letter introducing yourself and your book to an agency. It’s crucial that you check the submission guidelines for each agency to make sure you meet their requirements.

2. Get your materials ready to submit for publication

If you are working with an agent, they will help you prepare your manuscript to be sent to publishers. They’ll give you feedback and edits to help your manuscript stand out.

If you decide to submit directly to a publisher without an agency you’ll need the following laid out in a book proposal. 

Publisher letter

A publisher cover letter introducing yourself to the publishers and describing why your book is a great match for their publication.

Novel synopsis

This is a 500 to 800 word summary of your book. In this summary, you’ll include an outline of your plot including major characters and scenes as well as plot twists. You want this summary to come across as neutral and not like a sales pitch.

Sample chapters

A few copies of different chapters in your book can give publishers more insight into your book and encourage them in their decision-making.

Remember, if you already wrote a book, then you can create a dynamic book proposal.

3. Use writing conferences or online forums to help with publishing

If you feel overwhelmed navigating the publishing world, or perhaps you’re struggling to be accepted by an agent, try attending a writing conference.

Conferences offer opportunities to network with other professionals in the industry, get insight into the latest trends, and expand your knowledge.

If you’re unable to attend conferences you can connect to other writers and authors through online writing communities and Facebook groups.

4. Work with big publishers

The publishers listed below are some of the largest publishing companies in the United States. They are also the most sought-after publishing companies.

They include:

These big-name publishers don’t accept solicitations without an agent. They are also very competitive and highly selective.

Yet, if you are fortunate enough to be accepted, you will be well taken care of. These publishers have a record of getting books on the bestseller lists. That said, it's extremely important to avoid scam publishers.

5. Get a book deal

If you decide you want to work with one of the big five publishers, or other indie publishers, here are some things to keep in mind. Here's how to get a book deal.

Create a high-quality manuscript

This might mean your book goes through several rounds of edits. It'll be worth it. No publisher or agent will take you seriously if your book has inconsistencies and mistakes.

Submit to multiple agents or publishers

How to get a book deal can sometimes be a numbers game. To increase your odds, create a list of different publishers and agents and submit to as many as possible. The more submissions you send, the better your odds.

Be patient

Yes, you’ve used quite a bit of patience when writing your book, but you’ll need a little more. Every masterpiece takes time.

Enjoy the process and stay motivated by reminding yourself why you want to publish your book.

Related articles on publishing

Did you enjoy this article? To learn more about publishing, check out these related articles.

How will you get your book published?

Being an author isn’t easy. It takes time and dedication. Thus, it’s important to remember that your story is just as valuable as every other published book.

When deciding how to get a book published remember these things.

If you want more creative control and a faster publishing process, self-publishing is the way to go.

If you want to work with a team of professionals and don’t mind putting a bit more time into the creation process, traditional publishing is best.

Once you decide which publishing route to take you'll be moving in the direction of becoming a paid author.

With all your questions on how to get a book published answered, how will you, as a new author, get your book out into the world?

When considering self-publishing vs traditional publishing, choose the option that's best for you.

In the meantime, you can improve your writing by creating a routine and learning how to establish a reader persona.

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