It’s taken a couple years, but I’m finally finishing up my book on how to profitably quit your job. Too many people are quitting their jobs and leaving tons of money on the table and I hope to fix that. Sydney, my father, and an editor have been helping me with the revisions and I’m proud of the work so far. The book is for anybody who feels trapped at work and aches to do something else more meaningful with their lives but is too afraid to ask or lacks the knowledge and skills to negotiate. The book is suitable for those who are just starting out, or at the tail end of their careers. There is a backstop for everyone!
My book proposal has been accepted by a couple literary agents in New York City, but I’m just not sure whether I should accept them yet. To give up so much control over the creative direction while I have my existing platform is conflicting. I’ll make a decision over the next couple of weeks and want to highlight the benefits of self-publishing vs. traditional publishing.
Perhaps through a discussion, we can come to a conclusion.
THE BENEFITS OF TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING
* Traditional publishing is considered more prestigious.
* Higher barriers to entry therefore signifying higher quality control.
* Established marketing platform.
* Opportunity for multi-book deal publishing contracts.
* Potential for upfront cash advance.
* Leverage off publisher’s relationships for other business opportunities.
THE NEGATIVES OF TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING
* Might give up your creative control as publishers steer you towards what will make them the most money.
* Publishers might take a larger cut of profits. After you pay your publisher and agent, you are often left with less than 40% of the original sales price.
* Might take a much longer time to get your book published than you wanted.
* Much more red tape.
* Not all publishes are created equal. Here’s a list of the world’s largest 54 publishers as of 2012. If your publisher is not on the list, perhaps you are wasting your time. There is little prestige in going with an unknown publisher.
THE BENEFITS OF SELF-PUBLISHING
* You get to move at your own pace.
* You decide all creative aspects of the book.
* You keep all your profits.
* It’s easier to do.
* It’s faster to launch your product.
* You are free to update the book as you see fit and not on the publisher’s schedule.
* You can change the price of your book, although with each change you might need a new ISBN number.
THE NEGATIVES OF SELF-PUBLISHING
* Less prestigious given such low barriers to entry.
* A need to self-promote more aggressively given you don’t have an incentivized publisher or agent to promote for you.
* Quality control could seriously be lacking because we often think what we write is better than what it is.
* Harder to sell if you don’t have an established platform or reputation.
WRITERS WHO SHOULD GO WITH A TRADITIONAL PUBLISHER
* Does not have an existing platform (reputation, blog)
* Has been accepted by a traditional publisher. This is quite an accomplishment in itself.
* Doesn’t need to make money from their book to pay the bills.
* Depends on their book to pay the bills. The jury is out on which is more profitable.
* Wants to develop a career or side income in speaking.
* Is OK with giving up some if not all control over their work.
WRITERS WHO SHOULD SELF-PUBLISH
* Has an existing platform to market and distribute.
* Enjoys marketing and promoting.
* Has a network of friends who have platforms.
* Will depend more on their book income to survive.
* Will not depend on their book to survive as self-publishing is easy for hobbyists.
* Is comfortable with the whims of the internet.
* Is more willing to take risks and experiment.
TAKING EVERYTHING INTO CONSIDERATION
A large part of the reason why I want to work for myself is because I like to do things at my own pace. I enjoy the autonomy of making my own decisions and experiencing the repercussions of these decisions, good or bad. As soon as someone starts telling me what to do, the fun-o-meter starts to decline and it feels like work.
After three years of blogging, I’ve built a platform of some ~120,000 unique visitors a month and ~170,000 pageviews a month on Financial Samurai. I should be able to leverage the platform to distribute my book. My readers care about personal finance, career, retirement, and making money. My book addresses all these issues and more therefore the relevancy is very high. Furthermore, I’ve made numerous online friends who care about the subject and will possibly be advocates. Finally, the distribution channel of Amazon and B&N is enormous if I later want to use their platform.
I’ve read numerous amounts of physical copy books, many of which aren’t very good. I go to the bookstore at least once a week and wonder how can there be so many published books when so many of them aren’t that good! There are thousands of books in the bookstore, yet only 50 of them become bestsellers. Therefore, what’s the different between self publishing and traditional publishing? Even if you had a hot book, the bookstore only carries a limited number of copies due to inventory.
Money is a tricky one. If I’m going to be a full-time writer, I will be depending on my book sales to pay the groceries. I want to price the book low enough to be accessible to as many interest readers as possible, and high enough where it reflects the value of the product. If you could read my book and live a better life and make $20,000 in the process, how much is that worth to you? Hopefully, a lot!
Putting all the pros and cons together, I’m leaning 80% towards self-publishing my book. I understand the importance of providing a high quality product that addresses a burning need. Therefore, when all is said and done, my book will probably go through 10 revisions and have at least five different writers/editors review the content before it is launched. I also love being my own boss, implementing the marketing skills I learned in business school, work, and online to get a product known and sold.
Self-publishing is to traditional publishing like entrepreneurship is to working for a company. Given my book is about how to profitably leave your company and do what you’ve always wanted, it only makes sense to go the self-publishing route.
Readers, what are your thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing? Which route would you choose? What are the pros and cons that I’m missing? Which route works best for you?
Note: Here is a great guide on self-publishing that we recommend on Untemplater. The guide has three different packages to address a self-publisher’s most pressing concerns.