Traditional publishing: Pros and Cons



COPYRIGHT: The author retains copyright but signs away publishing and subsidiary rights (for a limited period or perpetuity). (See Glossary.)

DISTRIBUTION: Publisher will use their established channels for distribution, wholesale and retail, which can be considerable.

ISBN AND CIP: For publishers, this is standard procedure; part of their admin. (See Glossary).

LITERARY PRIZES: Nominations from reputable publishers are better received. Critical acclaim and sales of translation rights are also more likely.

MARKETING: Traditional publishers' books often have a marketing budget. They take care of that side, but, having said that, they will chose which book they want to promote. They cannot push every title, only a handful. Any book that does not survive 6 months on bookstore shelves will be remaindered. (Their marketing technique is like shooting crows: fire a shot at the flock, and if one or two drop, that’s success.)

NO UPFRONT COSTS: The author has no upfront costs. All expenses (design, editing, printing and marketing) will be met by the publisher, but the author loses almost all creative control (cover and maybe, even, title).

PRESTIGE AND VALIDATION: Many authors consider becoming a brand-name author is the most important point.

PROFESSIONAL BACKING: Traditional publishers will have a professional team to assure the quality of the finished product.

PUBLISHING TECHNOLOGY: The author does not have to be concerned with any of this; everything will be under good care.

ROYALTIES: The author will be paid (usually promptly) around 8% to 12% of the selling price (RRP) of each book as royalty.

SUBSIDIARY RIGHTS: Although authors surrender all rights (including e-books) to the publisher, they do get a share of proceeds from any sell-on. Anyway, traditional publishers are in a much better position to exploit subsidiary rights than individual authors.


SLOW PROCESS: It could take years, and many rejections, before a manuscript is accepted and much more time after that for the book to be published.

REJECTIONS: The traditional publisher may not accept a manuscript for any number of reasons.

CREATIVE CONTROL: The author loses almost all creative control of content.

ROYALTY: One of the loudest complaints one hears is about how low royalty rates are compared to self-publishing. But, publishers do take all the risks. They have invested in you, the author. Big self-publishing companies pay more but not that much more.

MARKETING: Increasingly, authors have to promote their own book even in traditional publishing.

AUTHOR COPIES: The author will receive only a few free copies, but will be allowed to buy more at a special author-discount.


Pakka publishing solutions


A guide to book publishing

Pro-con-traditional publishing

Pro-con-self-pub online publishing providers

Pro-con-diy publishing

Pro-con-Pakka Assited DIY

Pakka editing services

Pakka ghostwriting

Glossary of publishing terms


Photo: Old manuscript, medieval English.(Image from Pixabay.)