Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Bittersweet Vine Blog Tour - Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

The Bittersweet Vine Blog Tour - Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

In 2011 I self-published my first book, Goa Traffic. If you read this blog regularly you will know the process to self publish started much earlier than that. Say 2010. I had finished my manuscript and I had sent out a million submissions to agents and small press. It was my introduction to rejection. Some rejections were constructive and I took those comments on board, but the majority were just standard 'no' responses. After my 13th rejection I decided that I would self publish. Looking back 13 was not many. Didn't Gone With the Wind get 100 rejections? But I was young and I had no patience (I still don't) and so I chose to self publish. If you want the details you can read through older blog posts I wont bore you here but I will say it was a streamlined and efficient process. I have got to admit I was 100% satisfied with the outcome and the entire journey. And it was a steep learning curve. I learnt in 6 months the bare bones of publishing and the sleepless nights it can cause.

Fast forward two years and my second novel, The Bittersweet Vine has just been published by Thames River Press. I haven't paid a penny towards it and it has been a different experience all together. Although my novel is out now and in print and my e-book is available my journey has barely begun because publishing a book is so much more than about just getting the words on the page. Two years down the line I am still learning about self-publishing with Goa Traffic.  So perhaps what I am about to set out below is not completely accurate - I haven't seen the fruits of traditional publishing yet - but it is a undiluted version of how I compare self publishing to traditional publishing.

Self Publishing - The Pros 


  • Complete control of your novel. 
  • You pay, you say. You can do what you want (within the law) when you pay. 
  • You see your royalties on a quarterly basis. If you self publish e-books you can monitor this daily or weekly. There is nothing more motivating than seeing your sales figures. 
  • If you own the publishing rights and you generally do with self-publishing, you can publish the same book a hundred times. You own the book and you can do with it what you will! 
  • Better Royalties! You can earn quite a bit from self-publishing if you are selling a high volume of books. And with the e-book set at such low prices you can make more sales than paperbacks. Readers are more likely to take a chance on an e-book for £2.00. 


Self Publishing -The Cons 

  • You have to pay! This could be a lot or a little depending on what you need. But anyone you speak to will say how important it is to pay to a proof reader.
  • The feeling that you have actually produced a book that no-one believes in! Well of course you do as does your friends and family do, but there is always that feeling that no one else likes what you have written.
  • The feeling that you are on your own. As above really! 
  • The stigma of self-publishing - that I have to admit we authors create for ourselves. I know there is nothing wrong with it but other authors and the general public don't take self publishing seriously. Although I have to admit this notion is eroding - slowly we'll get there. 
  • It is hard work and  you'll put a lot of pressure on yourself- You will wake in the night wondering if you've picked the right font, the line spacing. You are responsible for everything and it's your fault if there is a mistake! Yes there is no getting away from that and the thought is scary. 
  • You have to do your own marketing. But hey, you are a self-publisher and you have to be business savvy. You've paid money to get your book published. It's time to make some money. Trust me you will want your book to succeed and overnight you will turn into a marketing guru!
  • With people's perceptions of self publishing it is harder to get reviews, media coverage and getting your book into retail outlets.   

Traditional Publishing - The Pros

  • No Payment. Yay! You don't need to make 1000 plus sales just to cover your costs! 
  • Someone believes in you enough to put money behind you. Even if this is a tenner - it does an awful lot for your confidence and we authors are not very confident so we need all the help we can get
  • Contacts in media, press and getting your book reviewed
  • A professional will edit your story. They will ask for clarification on points. They will pick the font and the spacing and provide you with front cover mock ups. You don't have to think - too much. 
  • Instant credibility. People always want to know if you published yourself or not. As soon as you say you have a publisher it's a different conversation. 

Traditional Publishing - The Cons 

  • You can't monitor your sales as closely as you would like 
  • They set the price. You cant fiddle about with supply and demand. Although theoretically the publishers are the ones with better knowledge than you so leave them to it! 
  • Whilst the publishers I worked with didn't make huge alterations to my story and text. they could easily ask this of you!
  • They have ultimate say. They pay, they say! If they don't agree with you on the title or the front cover they can change it. It is as simple as that. Again I was lucky and got to choose my title and front cover but I am sure it is not as easy as that.  
  • You lose your right to publish. They own the story and you can't publish in another country  or a cheaper version if you want.
  • If it's a small publishers you may have to do your own marketing as well.
  • The royalties are not that great! They are low and unless you are selling hundreds of copies each month your take home will be relatively little. 

The above is not supposed to be exhaustive, but I hope you have found it insightful! Follow the rest of the tour and see my previous blog post below for details of all the stops on this tour during the month of October. 

On the 7th October I will be making a stop at Jan Greenough's blog Literary Teapot. Jan Greenough is a professional author and editor who has co-authored and ghostwritten several books.  This post will feature a short author interview - part 1

The Bittersweet Vine is available now 

The Bittersweet Vine (ISBN: 978-0-85728-094-7, Thames River Press, paperback £8.99 and e-book £2.56.) at
Amazon or other on-line stores and in selected book-shops.  For more information about The Bittersweet Vine or about the author see www.marissadeluna.com  

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