Which method is right for me?

Traditional vs Indie vs Hybrid

Traditional Publishing: this means you’re kickin’ it old school, baby. Or maybe kind of new school if you’re going through an epub, but a lot of the old school concepts still apply. You have a gatekeeper deciding whether or not your book is “good enough” or “right” for their line (either an agent or an editor is the gatekeeper in this scenario). You have someone else who handles copy editing and cover design and all the nuts and bolts of getting your book formatted and uploaded to the necessary channels. You’re still in charge of your own marketing unless you’re someone like Nora Roberts or Stephen King–and even then you’re still expected to market at least a little bit. Odds are you’re only getting 10-20% royalties and you may or may not receive an advance.

Pros:

  • Wider distribution
  • In-house copy editing
  • In-house cover design
  • Cache of being a traditionally published author (if that’s important to you…and if it is, cool…to each their own *g*)

Cons:

  • You’re still in charge of all of your marketing
  • If you get an advance you may not earn it out, which means you don’t see any of those royalty payments
  • 10-20% royalties, with some of that possibly going to an agent if you have one
  • Less control over cover design (so you might get stuck with something you hate)
  • Getting paid once a quarter (if you’re lucky–some houses only pay royalties once every six or twelve months)

Indie Publishing: aka Independent Publishing (also known as self-publishing) means you’re going it alone. Well, kind of, but probably not really because there’s a HUGE network of folks out there who can and will support you in all kinds of different ways. What indie publishing does mean, though, is that you’re no longer just a writer–you’re also a publisher–which means you better get a grasp on the business side of things pretty quickly, otherwise you might sink rather than swim. Indie authors are in charge of every aspect of their careers: the book itself, who edits it, the cover design, formatting, uploading to retail outlets, marketing, etc.

Pros:

  • You have complete control over your career
  • You have complete control over every aspect of your book baby
  • Higher royalties (usually around 70% for ebooks)
  • More freedom for creativity and to write what YOU want to write rather than what your publisher wants you to write
  • Getting paid once a month

Cons:

  • For some, having complete control over your career
  • Odds are, you’re gonna have to do some math at some point, and more than you would if you’re trad published
  • You need to network at least a little to find service providers (copy editors, cover designers, formatters, etc.), which isn’t always the strong suit of writers
  • You set your own deadlines rather than having an editor/publisher setting them for you

Hybrid Publishing: the intersection of indie and trad publishing, usually someone who has a publishing contract with a publishing house, but who also self-publishes their books that aren’t with that publishing house. A lot of previously trad writers are now hybrid writers, as they’ve decided to self-publish, too. The reasons for that are varied, but usually fall along the lines of writing faster than your publisher can release your books and writing something your publisher isn’t interested in but you are absolutely in love with and need to get out into the world. Conversely, you can also have indie authors who are now hybrid authors, meaning they started out indie but got picked up by a trad publisher and still self-publish some of their stuff. Other things you might see in the context of hybrid publishing are authors who sell their print rights to a publishing house but maintain digital and audio rights, or any combination of rights thereof.

Pros:

  • Flexibility with what you write
  • Security of having a publisher while still trying out this indie thing
  • MUCH wider distribution
  • You have more revenue streams

Cons:

  • You have to juggle two+ publishing schedules
  • You may find your indie books are performing better than your trad pubbed books but can’t get out of your contract

Ultimately, only YOU can decide which publishing method is the right one for you. I’ve been traditionally published, and decided to go the indie route so I could have more control over my career. I made more money in my first month of indie publishing than I did in the eight years I was with an epub. Others have even more success than that. Others have less. Your mileage definitely may vary, and to each their own. There is no right or wrong way, just the BEST way for you.

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