Self Publishing VS Traditional Publishing by Deanna Jackson

Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Deanna Jackson as she shares with us “Self Publishing VS Traditional Publishing.” Enjoy!


Lately I find myself saying, “One day my book will be on that shelf” whenever I pass by the isle that holds all the literary material at a store. I know the hard work it will take to see that come true but I also know that which route to publishing I take plays a part.

Since I began writing my novel, which publishing route I should pursue has been on my mind. I researched the different types for hours and have broken down the good and the not so good for each.

The word Self-Publishing says it all. YOU are doing the work. From cover design to marketing you take care of it all, or you are paying someone to do so for you. The good part about this is you have complete control of your book. There are no deadlines to meet and you can design your novel however you want. Of course, this will cost.

The average cost for cover design is anywhere from $500-$1200. That is, if you want to stand out amongst some of the traditional publishers like Harper Collins or Penguin. If you find someone who does it on their free time you could pay as little as $200. Either way, expect to pay some type of money. The fun part about this is you get to design it from start to finish. If your story is about dogs and you want to have a massive amount of dogs on your cover there will be no one telling you no. You can also name your book whatever you want.

Sounds amazing right? It does, but when all is said and done and you are ready for the world to see your novel, how do you get it on the shelves? Well, most self-publishers I know go digital with Amazon and others but if you’re like me, you dream to see it at the book store. The hard part here is if you don’t have many connections you are going to be busy. No one will sell your book but you. You can hire a company to help you market but yet again more money out of your pockets. The positive about all this money you are spending is that if your book sells, you get 100% of the profit.

I consider Traditional Publishing to be on the complete other side of the world from Self- Publishing. Most big name publishers won’t even think twice about your manuscript without an agent. The nice thing about this is agents make you stand out amongst the others but they don’t do so for free. Agents are going to take a percentage of every deal they get for you so be ready to share your money.

When it comes to cover design and titles, some traditional publishers may like your working title and keep it, but I would guess over 50% change it. I have read that you don’t get much say on the cover design, but my thoughts on that have always been they work with the professionals, and they know what they are doing. The positive part of this is it won’t cost you any money out of pocket.

Most traditional publishers pay you a retainer when they accept your book and you sign a contract. I would assume this is so you can take more time to write and if you have another job it helps you pay for that time off. Traditional publishers will give you a deadline so you will most likely need some time off your day job.

Once your novel is complete traditional publishers take care of the marketing for you. They have connections and they know how to get your book into the stores. They have access to all the best book signings and conventions and can help you get the exposure you need to get your novel read.

All and all, both Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing have positive and negative features. It really just depends on what you’re willing to do to make your dreams of becoming a published author come true.

Happy Writing!



Deanna JacksonI am an unpublished author working on my first romance novel. I have taken classes in creative writing and editing at the University of Cincinnati. When I am not writing, I enjoy snuggling on the couch with my husband and three fur puppies.

Blog site:

Twitter: @Jackdeanna


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  • Deanna, I wish you great luck as you go down this road, and consider which fork to take 🙂 Your post is wise and incredibly accurate–about all except one element, I would say. Having tiptoed right up to the self-publishing waters, then been offered a traditional deal at the eleventh hour, I can say that even the biggest publisher doesn’t do all the marketing for you. They do some things–but the load on a trad author versus a self-pubbed one is about the same. The two authors have different tasks, but just as many of them. And it’s soooo hard on both paths. The writing makes it all worthwhile, I think.

    I hope I get to see your book on a shelf one day! Let me know. It was my dream too. Still is, in fact.

  • Greg says:

    All true. However, what you forgot to mention is that traditionally self-pubs are still nearly entirely ignored by the bookselling industry no matter what you do (unless it really does somehow ‘take off.’ And that the publishing industry is doing a LOT less marketing on new author books. In fact they’re not even likely to take you on unless you have a built-in platform (read following).

  • Deanna says:

    Thanks for the comments and I appreciate the information being added to the post. I do agree with both of you that trad publishers dont help as much as they used to with marketing your novel. Ultimately, I believe that no matter what you do in life YOU have to make it happen and if someone wants to help along the way, great! Hard work pays off!
    Thanks again for the comments 🙂

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