Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Which One Should You Choose?

Authors nowadays have the luxury and freedom of choosing how to present their work to the public, whether it is through traditional publishing or self-publishing.

Steuben press   self publishing vs traditional publishing   which one should you choose

Each of the two options has its pros and cons, so if you’re a writer, you first need to know what these options entail and then decide which one is more suitable for your needs.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is the classic process, a manuscript goes through before it evolves into a book. The process is a long one, since after finishing the manuscript authors have to personally submit it to different agents and publishing houses and usually go through a series of rejections before it is finally picked up and the author is given a contract.

The process does not end here, as the book will go through heavy editing to be fully prepared for publishing.

Pros and Cons

Choosing a traditional publishing path is very rewarding in the end if you manage to get through constantly trying to sell your book and the ideas behind it. The best part is that choosing to work with a known publisher ultimately gives you the validation you need – that your work is of good quality, whether or not the book sells well. It is the feedback that you receive in the form of approval from the publisher that makes you get rid of any doubts you may have about yourself and the work you produce.

Other particularly good aspects of traditional publishing are easier print distribution and a professional team that works with you. Publishing houses are designed to take care of this aspect and make sure that your book sells, so it is only natural that the effort is bigger when it comes to marketing, design, editing, and so on. It also leaves you, the writer, with the possibility of solely focusing on your writing, rather than dealing with all the other aspects you’re not familiar with.  The likelihood of becoming a renowned author or of obtaining literary prizes is also a plus of traditional publishing, as it can facilitate the process.

The cons of traditional publishing, however, include a very slow process and almost always involve giving up a big proportion of creative control in order to make the book more appealing to the mass market. Also, it is not unusual for writers to get editors that are not only not on the same page as them, but that exploit the book and use inappropriate marketing angles because they think it will sell more that way.

Not to mention, large publishing companies can sometimes take a higher percentage of profits than the author would receive!


Self-publishing essentially means that you become the publisher, so you are now the one that needs to handle every single aspect and detail, whether or not you are experienced and have done this before. Funding needed for publishing, artwork, marketing, distribution, advertising – these are all things you will have to think about carefully if you decide to take this route.

Pros and Cons

The best part of self-publishing is obviously the fact that you are in total control over your book and its content - you will not need to adhere to anyone’s imposed conditions anymore. You can choose to work with different professionals, freelancers or self-publishing companies, but ultimately you are the one in charge of every decision that best conveys your work.

That is also the reason self-publishing is particularly empowering to authors - being in charge of your work and interacting with customers and readers and working with different professionals is refreshing and gives you a different understanding of what you do and your motivations behind it. Not to mention that you get higher royalties (as opposed to the average 10% you would get in traditional publishing), and have the option of publishing anywhere in the world.

Cons, however, include the very same fact -- that you need to take care of all aspects, yourself. That means that not only do you need to find the right people to work with you, but you need to spend much more time doing your research for all these different departments that are now your responsibility as well.

Print distribution is also difficult, as well as the fact that most literary prizes are only reserved for traditional publishing, so literary acclaim will most likely not be a part of your journey as a writer.

There are many other differences between traditional and self-publishing, but the most important thing is that you realize what your goal is and what you need to accomplish through your work, and then choose accordingly. The experts at Steuben Press are here to help when it comes to self publishing, making the process as easy and painless for you as possible!

Adam user

President & CEO,
Steuben Press

Adam Ellis has worked in the book industry since 2002, when he was first exposed to the wonderful world of Self Publishing. Over the years he has worked with thousands of authors and helped to produce, print and publish countless books.


The entire Steuben Press Team have been perfect partners for my book and my customers. They are engaged, dedicated, and continually working with complete professionalism. I look forward to my next project with Steuben Press.

– Kristen Pirog, Germany

Buy a copy of Kristen’s “An Army ABC Book,” in one of its many formats here.