Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Which Option is Best for Your Business Book?

Last Updated: 

May 2, 2023

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Which Option is Best

Are you an aspiring business book author? One of the most important decisions you will make is whether to self-publish or go the traditional publishing route. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it's important to carefully consider both before making the final decision. In this post, we'll explore the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing for your business book.

Key Takeaways on Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

  1. Self-Publishing: Offers complete creative control, faster time to market, and higher royalties, but requires upfront investment and marketing efforts.
  2. Traditional Publishing: Provides publishing expertise, support, advance payment, and wider distribution, but involves less creative control and lower royalties.
  3. Decision Factors: Consider your goals, skills, resources, and the level of control you desire when choosing between self-publishing and traditional publishing.
  4. Writing Quality: Regardless of the chosen route, focus on delivering high-quality content that meets your target audience's needs.
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Self-publishing is a process where the author takes on most of the publishing duties themselves, including editing, formatting, and cover design. Self-publishing has become increasingly popular in recent years, thanks in part to the rise of eBooks. Here are some of the pros and cons of self-publishing:

Pros of Self-Publishing

Creative Control

As a self-publisher, you have complete creative control over your book. You get to choose the cover design, formatting, and content. You also get to decide how much to charge for your book, and how and where to distribute it.

Faster Time to Market

Self-publishing allows you to bring your book to market much faster than traditional publishing. With traditional publishing, the process can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months, while self-publishing can take as little as a few weeks to a couple of months.

Higher Royalties

Self-publishers generally earn higher royalties per book sold than traditionally published authors. Royalties can range from 35% to 70%, depending on the platform and distribution method.

Cons of Self-Publishing

No Advance Payment

Unlike traditional publishing, there is no advance payment for self-publishers. You have to invest your own money upfront in editing, formatting, and cover design, which may amount to a considerable sum of money.

Marketing Support

You are entirely responsible for the marketing and promotion of your book as a self-publisher. You need to be proactive in building your own author platform and promoting your book to your target audience.

Limited Distribution

As a self-publisher, you may find it challenging to get your book into brick-and-mortar bookstores. Traditional publishers have established relationships with retailers and wholesalers that can make distribution much easier.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing is the more traditional route, where an author works with an agent and publisher to produce and sell their book. Here are some of the pros and cons of traditional publishing:

Pros of Traditional Publishing

Publishing Expertise and Support

Publishers have the experience and expertise to help you to create a polished and professional book. They provide editing, design, and formatting support, and help with marketing and promotion.

Advance Payment

As a traditionally published author, you'll receive an advance payment upfront. This payment can range from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand, depending on the book's anticipated sales and the author's track record.

Wider Geographic Distribution

Traditional publishers have a vast network of bookstores, wholesalers, and distributors to get your book into the hands of a broader audience. This wider distribution can lead to greater visibility and reach.

Cons of Traditional Publishing

Lack of Creative Control

As a traditionally published author, you will have to give up some creative control of your book to the publisher. They make decisions on cover design, formatting, and even content.

Slower Time to Market

Traditional publishing can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months from contract to release. This longer timeline may limit your ability to capitalise on current trends or address cutting-edge topics.

Lower Royalties

Traditionally published authors typically earn less per book sold than self-publishers. Royalties can range from 5% to 15%, depending on the publisher and book sales.


Choosing between self-publishing and traditional publishing is a big decision. Ultimately, the best option for your business book will depend on your goals, skills, and resources. If you have the resources and expertise, self-publishing can provide you with greater creative control, higher royalties, and a faster time-to-market.

On the other hand, traditional publishing can provide you with expert support, wider distribution, and an upfront advance payment. However, you may need to sacrifice some control, and you'll need to be patient with the longer lead time.

It's up to you to decide which option aligns best with your goals and capabilities as a writer. Regardless of which route you choose, remember that the process of writing and publishing takes a lot of time and effort. Always keep your target audience in mind, and be sure to deliver high-quality content that meets their needs.

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