In a Facebook discussion on the relative merits of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing, MH writes: “The only reason I could think of someone wanting to publish a non-fiction business book via a traditional publisher would be access to retail distribution in airports where executive decision-makers still buy books during travel.”
Really, MH? Because I can think of at least 7 additional advantages of traditional publishing over self-publishing:
1. Traditional publishing is more prestigious than self-publishing.
People are impressed when you tell them your book was published by John Wiley & Sons, largely because they can’t do it. They are less impressed when you tell them you paid to have it printed at Kinkos, because anyone can do it.
2. Many newspapers, magazines, and other mainstream media outlets won’t even consider reviewing your book if it is self-published. They only treat books from real publishers seriously.
3. The money flows the right way: from publisher to author.
As soon as you sign a contract to write a book, you get an advance check from the publisher even before you’ve written one word. Once the book sales pay back the advance, you get royalties.
By comparison, in self-publishing you have to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to book designers, printers, and other vendors you pay to create your book.
4. You get a free editor, book designer, printer, and proofreader.
When you write a book for a traditional publisher, they assign an editor who edits your book, and also a proofreader who checks the galleys for errors. If you are a self-publisher and you use an editor and proofreader (many do not), their fee comes out of your pocket. Plus, they design, typeset, print, inventory, and distribute your book for you, also free of charge!
5. Self-publishing a book is a ton of work that I don’t have time for. With traditional publishing, once you write the book, other people, as just noted, handle the production and distribution for you.
6. If a self-publisher uses print-on-demand technology, you can print books one at a time, but the cost per copy is high. You can save money by going to a short-run printer and printing 1,000 to 3,000 copies, but it’s a big cash outlay and where are you going to put them?
7. Self-publishers say that mainstream publishers do no marketing for your book. But they do: I have been on dozens of radio and TV shows, courtesy of my book publishers’ PR departments.
Self-publishers do their marketing entirely on their own, and the sad fact is that the vast majority don’t know how…and as a result, sell very few books.
I could go on, but you get the idea. Anyone who says unequivocally that self-publishing is the cat’s pajamas is kidding themselves.
Lots of self-publishing evangelists tell me there is more money in self-publishing and that traditionally published books make no money. My reply: Stephen Covey, Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Dr. Phil, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, James Patterson, Scott Adams—the list goes on and on. (Patterson makes $90 million a year.)
LT says: “In the digital world, anyone and everyone can be an author, regardless of experience, expertise or industry track record. A book contract doesn’t automatically confer expertise. But it does assure that the material—and the author—have been vetted by a third-party editorial and publishing team with a huge investment in the writer’s credibility.”
Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.