Traditional vs Self Publishing Which Is Best For You?

Traditional vs Self Publishing Which Is Best For You? #Publishing

If you want to make a career out of being an author one of the things you'll be most interested in is the consistency of author earnings over time. An excellent site to visit for studies and reports on the topic is I only discovered this site recently but know I'll be checking back regularly for their updates. Whilst their studies only account for small industry samples they give good insight into what other authors are earning.

In todays post I wanted to take a look at traditional publishing vs self publishing and try to answer a few questions in order to help those of you still trying to decide which publishing route is best for you. So, Which publishing route gives the best earnings? Does going the traditional route really mean you'll earn more money? and can self publishing really give you a profitable writing career? 

Traditional vs Self Publishing Which Is Best For You? #Publishing

Traditional Publishing vs Self Publishing

Going the traditional publishing route is slower. Querying, submitting, waiting for a publishing contract.... and then more waiting as they prepare for release. 

The indie path is faster. Much faster. It needs to be done right though in order to be successful. 

Best Seller Lists

When it comes to success in the best seller lists the publishing route you take doesn't make much difference. It largely depends on how competitive your genre is. In some categories selling dozens of copies in a day isn't enough to get you into the top 100. In these categories even authors earning 5 figure incomes from ebook sales never appear in any Amazon best seller lists.

According to Author Earnings reports, 10% of audiobooks on Amazon's best seller lists are indie, and "non traditionally published" books now make up nearly 60% of all kindle ebooks purchased in the US (as of September 2015).

There are fewer than half as many traditionally published authors as indie authors who debuted in the last three years and are now earning consistently at the $25K/year level or $50K/year level from kindle ebooks. 

Far more indie authors are earning six figures a year or more from just their kindle best sellers than traditionally published authors who debuted anytime in the past decade and are able to do the same. Self published author, Mark Dawson for example has sold over 300,000 copies and earned over $450,000 from Amazon. There are plenty of other indie success stories like his too. 

What works best for one author may not be best for another though. There are lots of authors that started out with self publishing their books and then went on to become best seller success stories

There have been lots of stories of authors who self published their books with success and then went on to have them signed with traditional publishers for big bucks. Hugh Howey, E.L. James, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, John Grisham... the list is a long one. 

Like I said before, there are pro's and con's to each route. Traditional publishing isn't for everyone. Self publishing isn't for everyone. You need to find the one that works best for you. And just because you decide to self publish in the beginning doesn't mean you can't get picked up by a traditional publisher later on. If your book proves popular they'll be banging down your door to sign you.

Which publishing route did you pick and why? Have your author earnings met your expectations? If you could go back and do it again, would you still pick the same publishing route? 


  1. For most authors, the consideration shouldn't be all about the money. It's hard for any author today to make the big bucks.


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