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Traditional Publishing: The Pros and Cons

Not gonna lie...I spent most of my life dreaming of being a traditionally published author, on major bookseller shelves worldwide! My dream has pivoted since 2018, but my research remains so valuable to me, and it helped me ultimately make my informed choice about which publishing path to pursue! So here I'm gonna share the 5 biggest PROS and CONS I found to traditional (Trad) publishing!


🤝 TEAMWORK. Trad brings the delight of a team - agent, cover artist, editor, marketing, etc. - and not on your own dime! While you do still have to do a large chunk of your own marketing, some of the pricier things like book trailers, cover, editing etc. are typically funded by your team. 👁 VISIBILITY. Trad pub definitely puts your book in front of more people. In bookstores, grocery stores, ads, pop-up displays, etc...indies have to really fight for these things, but they come easier in trad. This often means more popularity, which raises the chance for things like adaptations, reprints, etc! 💰 ADVANCE. An advance is money your publisher calculates and pays you up front, which you then pay out against future sales before making additional royalties. So you're getting money right off the jump - and often a lot of it! 🧭 GUIDANCE. In the Trad journey, if you have a good agent, you never walk alone. An agent is your advocate and a guide, helping you navigate all the new experiences that come with the publication process and also acting as a go-betwewn for you and publishers - a huge deal! ✔ CREDIBILITY. Let's face it...having the backing of a named agent, a big publishing house like Bloomsbury or Penguin, etc., a professional career editor, and a well known cover artist are just a few things that make broader audiences more likely to take a chance on your book. Especially of you're a debut author, having other, popular names behind yours helps people feel "safe" about the quality of this book you're asking them to buy!


🤝 APPROVAL. Trad publishing requires approval on multiple levels for a manuscript to launch. You can write what you want, certainly, but many trad authors won't even bother starting a new story before their agent agrees they'll try try pitch it. And even if the agent does agree, that's no guarantee a publisher will pick it up. So at multiple levels, your MS can be rejected. 👁 CENSORING. With traditionally published books, often publishers have a say in how much you can talk about your book, where, and when. This can affect how your social media platform runs, when you're required to post things, what kinds of things you can post, etc. 💰 CONTRACTS. If you're not well-versed in technical and legal terms, a publishing contract may have some detriment to your career if not negoatied properly in terms of copyright, ownership of content, etc. An agent should help you with this, however, there can still be difficulties, and some contracts leave authors with a series not wholly finished if their sales don't perform well along the way. 🧭CONTROL. Trad authors don't have full creative control; agents, publishers etc. can reject a story on lots of different precedents, some of which the author may fundamentally disagree with. Some authors wind up with titles or covers they dislike, as well, but there is a limit to the say they have in design and some publishers listen to their authors far less than others. ✔ LONGEVITY. While the Big 5 publishers are pretty secure, smaller presses rise and fall over time, and unfortunately when smaller ones go under, their signed authors can be left stranded, unsure of how to finish out their series or what will happen to the books already published through that press. What are some pros and cons and YOU'VE seen/experienced in traditional publishing? Share them in the comments! 👇

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