Self Publishing VS Traditional Publishing, Pt. I


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After you have finally finished writing your book most people will ask you if you already have a publisher. And while two decades ago your answer might have been something like



I´m already in touch with some agents and a publishing house.

the answer is not that obvious nowadays.

With the rise of digital publishing it is easier than ever before to publish his/her own book. But what does being a self publisher really mean? And are there any advantages over finding a publisher and vice versa?

This is part one of a three part blog post series which consists of

  1. Traditional Publishing
  2. Marketing Advantage of a Traditional Publisher
  3. Self Publishing

1) Traditional Publishing

At the latest when you have finished your book you will:

  1. create a list of publishing houses that target the same segment of readers your book does,
  2. check out the submission guides (usually found on their websites),
  3. seek out the right person to be contacted within this publishing house (usually an editor in the right department, e.g. young adult literature, romance),
  4. maybe call the person beforehand and then
  5. send your manuscript (or whatever is required according to their submission guide) to him/her.

Then you will wait and hope to be contacted. If the publisher likes your manuscript he will contact you and you will negotiate a contract. Brenda Warneka compiled a list of 20 topics to talk about when you negotiate with your publisher, so check it out 🙂

You might also think about getting an agent. Having an agent is surely a good thing, but I think, that it takes more work than one usually might think it does. Check out Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog to get an idea of where to start. 🙂

What a publishing house usually does with a manuscript is (among other things):

  • it creates the layout of your book, creates the needed additional pages like imprint, index (if needed), chapters (if needed), inside cover…
  • it gets your book an ISBN
  • it hands the manuscript to a content editor, who checks and improves the flow of your book, thus the reading experience
  • it corrects widows and orphans
  • it corrects grammar and spelling errors
  • it creates a cover illustration / photograph / graphic

By the way, if you are asking yourself what widow means: These are typography mistakes. In imprint slang, there are three main categories of widows (according to Guy Kawasaki):

  1. Widowed text is when the last line of a paragraph appears on the following page or in the next column.
  2. A widowed heading occurs when a heading is on one page and the following text is on the next page or in the next column.
  3. A widowed bullet occurs when one bullet is on a page and the subsequent bullets are on the next page or in the next column.

On the other side, an orphan can be for example, if the first line of a text is on one page or column and the rest of the paragraph on the next page or column.  There are also other kinds of orphans, you can check out the Chicago Manual of Style or APE – Author Publisher Entrepeneur by Guy Kawasaki if you want to dig deeper into it.

So by doing the steps above, the publisher will make a book out of your manuscript. So you can see, there is still a lot of work to be done once your manuscript has been finished. Work the publisher will pay for to get it done. There is a reason why I’m pointing out the obvious and I will come back to it in the third post.

Ok, let’s say you have written your manuscript, you have a contract, and the publisher has created a printable book based on your manuscript. Now the real work starts: Advertising and promoting your book.

Read the next post of this series here: Part II- Marketing Advantage of a Traditional Publisher.


16 responses to “Self Publishing VS Traditional Publishing, Pt. I

  1. Ah, you tease!! I was ready to learn about the merits, advantages, and disadvantages of self-publishing. I will anticipate Part 2 for more information about publishing.


    • Hi Jacky, actually I did not want to tease 🙂 Just thought that it would make sense writing in that way, like starting with which part of the workload (when bringing out a book) usually a publisher does and what the editing steps normally are (this part) and then why it is a good thing to have a publisher doing the marketing as well as why most of my author friends were disappointed with these marketing steps (part 2) and then what it really means to self publish and what your main advance is (part 3). 🙂 But if it leaves any questions open, just drop a line and I will see if I can answer it 🙂


    • Thank you very much, Phil. I`m writing down just what I have learnt so far and what my thoughts are when I was thinking whether I should try to find a traditional publisher for the fairytale book, of if selfpublishing would be the right choice. I just thought, that it could be interesting for others as well 🙂


      • Sorry, got confused with the ‘Phil’ name and realised that the link does not work properly and doesn’t link to my page but someone else’s. Anyway, these information are quite good, dependable on the person’s situation, although I think I would prefer the self-publishing option, though on the other hand finding the traditional publisher might bring on more advantages.


  2. Pingback: Self Publishing VS Traditional Publishing, Pt. II | I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog·

  3. Pingback: Self Publishing VS Traditional Publishing, Pt. II | I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog·

  4. Pingback: Self Publishing VS Traditional Publishing, Pt. III | I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog·

  5. Pingback: Below the Floor – First Printing | I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog·

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