If you’re a writer looking to publish your work, the task can seem like a daunting one. There are two main ways to publish: traditional and self-publishing, both of which require intense work of different kinds. The right path for you depends on what you’re looking to accomplish by publishing your work.
Traditional publishing is undoubtedly the best route for people looking for the prestige and legitimacy that a publishing house confers. If you are writing to improve your brand or help grow your business, it’s undoubtedly the way to go. It may also be ideal if you’re not interested in dealing with the other aspects of writing, like editing and graphic design. Traditional houses will also get your books into physical stores, get them reviewed by prestigious sources, and make them eligible for literary accolades. These things are much more challenging to accomplish with self-publishing.
The downsides of traditional publishing include loss of creative control and a lower royalty percentage. Some authors get paired with editors they don’t like or are forced to use covers and titles they’re not happy with. Traditional publishing also takes a long time (1-2 years at least after your manuscript is finished), requires finding an agent, and increasingly relies on you to do the marketing yourself, just as in self-publishing.
While self-publishing does not come with any of the esteem of a publishing house, it has many benefits. You retain complete creative control over your work, can publish whenever you want and wherever you want, and you will keep a majority of your profits. The biggest obstacle to people self-publishing is probably the time and monetary investment required to be successful; you need to employ a professional editor and graphic designer, as well as build your own audience (although, you’re unlikely to get help from a publishing house with that, in most cases).
The choice of how to publish your work boils down to how much control you want to retain; if preserving your creative vision is crucial, consider self-publishing. On the other hand, if you’re not particularly bothered by the company making changes to your work, traditional publishing may be the way to go. Consider both options carefully and pick the one which is the most in line with your goals.