In my post “5 Reasons Why a Writer Should Go With a Traditional Publisher,” I gave five advantages of traditional publishing. Although these reasons are compelling, there are also some downsides of traditional publishing.
Consider These Five Downsides of Traditional Publishing:
1. It Takes Longer
Unless a book is “fast-tracked” it will typically take eighteen months to two years from your first pitch to it sitting on bookstore shelves. Smaller presses may be nimbler. While larger publishers seek to streamline their processes, but the bottom line is, traditional publishing takes a long time.
2. Agents Are Often Required
Increasingly, publishers will only deal with agents. It makes publishers’ jobs easier, as agents become the first level of screening. Unfortunately, finding an agent is challenging. Since agents are paid on commission they won’t take a project they don’t think they can sell.
3. Rejection is Likely
For those publishers who will talk directly to writers, the odds of them being accepted are small, sometimes less than one in a hundred. Even with an agent, rejection is expected.
4. Authors Must Market Their Own Book
Traditional publishers will do a small amount of promotion for all their authors, but the bulk of their attention and dollars go to the A-list authors. If a book is to sell, the author is the best person to make it happen.
5. Be Patient With Royalties
The process of publishers accounting for and paying royalties is confoundingly slow. Don’t rely on book royalties to pay bills; treat them as a bonus—if they occur. Since initial book sales are applied against the advance, some authors never sell enough copies to earn any royalties—ever.