Traditional vs. Indie Publishing: Which Is More Rewarding?

The rewards of traditional publishing include:

  • If you get traditionally published, you can experience the euphoria of acceptance. This can be especially gratifying after receiving several rejection letters. You get a stamp of approval.
  • There is much better potential for getting stocked on bookstores’ shelves, getting large-scale media coverage, and receiving editorial reviews that have wide circulation. Seeing your book in a bookstore or reading about your book in a newspaper can be quite satisfying.
  • You should expect to have a book with a professionally designed cover and professional editing. The better the quality of your book, the more you appreciate the result of your hard work. (Of course, professional cover design and editing are options with self-publishing, too.)
  • The top traditionally published books have many potential benefits. For example, they may be more likely to sell paperbacks in some genres, which may help with some bestseller ranks, and they can arrange for e-book preorders at Amazon. A highly successful book can be very rewarding. If you’re able to become one of the bestselling traditionally published authors, you can achieve very high levels of success. It’s not easy to achieve this, which makes doing so very rewarding.
  • There is a self-publishing stereotype. Through traditional publishing, you can escape this, and you’re more likely to receive praise from the critics of self-publishing. People are more likely to be impressed if a big publisher accepts your book or if they can find your book in a store. It’s satisfying to have friends and family praise your success.

Indie publishing has some nice rewards, too:

  • Self-publishing offers independence and freedom of expression. A traditional publisher may want you to change ideas, style, or wording in order to broaden the potential audience or to avoid offending anyone. It can be satisfying to exercise freedom and independence.
  • If you achieve success (at least mildly), the feeling of being self-made is very satisfying. The more challenging path offers the potential of a greater reward. I hold a great deal of respect for the indie authors who have made their own success.
  • The indie author whose book cover and editing rival those of the top traditionally published books has much reason to be proud of the finished product. For a traditionally published book, this is expected; but for indie publishing, it’s an option – it’s also an investment, which carries some risk. Therefore, it’s more rewarding for the indie author to produce a professional looking book.
  • There is a strong sense of community and a great support group available to indie authors. Being part of the WordPress community, for example, is a great feeling. (Of course, traditionally published authors can take advantage of this, too.) Experienced indie authors may also enjoy the feeling of helping newbies out.
  • It’s more rewarding to get a bookstore to carry an indie book, to get the local media to feature an indie book in the paper, or to get a serious reviewer to cover an indie book. Access tends to be easier for traditionally published books, which is a benefit of traditionally published, but at the same time it makes the achievement more rewarding for the indie author.
  • Being part of the indie movement has its rewards, too. Indie publishing is growing stronger with modern technology and support from major businesses like Amazon. It’s a revolution in the book industry. Publishing a professional indie book helps to break the stereotypes. Succeeding as an indie author helps to open doors for others.
  • There is a great deal to learn just to self-publish: writing skills, editing, formatting, cover design, marketing, public relations, and more. Learning can be very rewarding.

It’s not a war. It’s not traditional authors against indie authors. All authors are in it together.

It’s not a choice between traditional or indie publishing. Either way, you write a book and share your ideas with readers.

The fact is that many authors are doing both. Many traditionally published authors are self-publishing, too. They may accomplish this using a pseudonym for one or both. The author who publishes both ways definitely can’t knock self-publishing! There are many benefits of publishing both ways – e.g. maybe some of your ideas are more suitable for traditional publishers than others. You get all of the rewards from both lists when you publish both ways.

Some authors also self-publish hoping to make names for themselves and eventually become traditionally published. If you succeed as a self-published author, maybe you will find this to be highly rewarding. Perhaps you will want to continue to be self-made. Or maybe you will want to prove to yourself that you could also succeed as a traditionally published author.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

8 comments on “Traditional vs. Indie Publishing: Which Is More Rewarding?

  1. I don’t understand the “war” mentality. There is room for everyone. It isn’t as though people read only four or five books in a lifetime. It’s not as though a book is a major investment. Traditional or indie, if you have quality stuff to share you can find your niche and get your book out to people who will enjoy it and perhaps learn something from it.

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