Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

Today I’m going to face the issue known as self publishing vs. traditional publishing. We all know what each are, self publishing being tackling the publishing world on your own and traditional being getting the experts to help you out.

What I’m going to talk about is why readers choose traditional published books over indie books.

Is it really fair that we are part of a social stigma where indie authors are considered horrible writers and story-tellers? I once saw a forum post on Amazon by someone ranting to the public about how indie authors should stop marketing their books and give up writing. Is this kind of slander really necessary?

In some cases, yes. I can understand where the public is coming from. I have read quite a few indie books over the past two months since I was published. Some were really good, others … not so much. Sometimes I couldn’t get past the first few pages because every sentence contained at least a dozen spelling mistakes. Sometimes the story just wasn’t fulfilling enough for me. I even found errors in my own book when I looked it over (all fixed up nice now).

I believe there to be three main reasons why readers choose not to buy indie books.

  • Not edited by a professional. Many indie books are riddled with spelling errors, punctuation mistakes, failing sentence structures, etc. People don’t want to read a story they can barely understand. It really takes the fun out of reading!
  • Not getting their money’s worth. A lot of indie books sell for $0.99 on Amazon, while others are high-priced at $5.99. If your book is too cheap, readers get the sense that it won’t be worth their while, but if it’s too expensive, they may feel you are overcharging for something that isn’t great enough quality to pay that much for.
  • Tired of indie books. Some readers, after giving indie books several chances, will avoid self published authors if the previous stories they read weren’t good enough quality to even finish reading. Although the next indie book they come across may be amazing, they will miss out on it because they have suffered through enough mistakes and bad plots already.

Not all self published books are duds, though, and not all traditional published books are amazing. Out of the last ten traditionally published books I’ve purchased, at least three I disliked, thinking the story and characters were boring or not developed enough. Traditional publishing does get rid of all of the spelling errors, but it can’t make a story great.

My conclusion is this: you may find a dozen horribly written indie books, plunged out there into the world by people thinking they were ready to publish when they weren’t, but for every bad indie book, I guarantee there’s also a good one. Readers shouldn’t be afraid to give indie authors a chance, to forget for a moment that this book has no traditional publishing company behind its spine.

That’s my thoughts for the moment. I’ll post again tomorrow about how authors post 5-star reviews on their own pages, and 1-star reviews on their competitor’s pages.

Thanks for reading.

~ Sandra

8 thoughts on “Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

  1. One thing that I’ve discovered recently that’s a different angle to the debate though is small presses. I’ve read several books lately from small presses that I’ve absolutely loved, and I find them a nice cross between indie and traditional. They tend to give more individual attention to each author, as well as a larger share of the profits from each book. Since they aren’t working with as many authors as most established traditional publishers, there’s more attention given to marketing for new authors, and I like knowing that the books have been edited.


  2. There is always the consideration of the free and paid markets in the magazine/anthologies area. There are SO many markets that allow for submissions from poems to novella and even novels themselves.

    All of which can either offer no pay or a range of pay-scale on a per-word basis.Anywhere from less than 1 cent to 5 cents, and then there is the possibility of royalties if offered.

    Now there are some terms that come with selling stories, such as contracts that give permission to print your story as much as they want, or that you’re not to submit it anywhere else for a period of time.

    However this is all just one more thing to consider before self-publishing or going on the long trek of finding an agent.


    • Indeed, indeed. I’ve recently found a small publishing company here, called “Breakwater Books”. Thinking about sending them in a copy of my manuscript.

      Also, most companies want you to have an agent.


  3. I’ve taken the indie route. I grew impatient with the traditional process. And I think the Internet is transforming the publishing industry as a whole. Where it ends up, is anybody’s guess, but I think Indie books are here to stay. Someone must just develop a clever means to sort through the masses of indie books and find a reliable method of finding the good ones.


    • I would love to see the traditional players in publishing start looking into setting up and redefining the indie industry.

      For example, if you’re a writer, that has something akin to what Random House publishes, then submit it to the the Random House indie division. That way, publishing houses have a pool of their own they can sift through to find writers they may want to being up to publish.

      Why can’t writing have it’s own version of minor and major leagues, that might give the indie authors a chance to get called up?


      • That’s a great idea. I’m not sure how long we’d have to wait for it to happen, though. Although traditional publishing may be a thing of the past in ten years time. Electronic means is steadily becoming more popular.


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