Indie vs Traditional Publishing: Benefits and Costs

indie vs traditional


As an indie, I am bias in the indie vs traditional publishing debate. Other authors tell about how great traditional publishing is though. I wanted to take a minute and dive into what you get with the traditional approach. Please note, I am an indie, so most of these are assumptions or found other places.

Pro’s to Traditional

  • People read and interact with your work on a deeper level. There is quite the difference between an Amazon review and an agent’s review. An agent is looking for a hook, accessibility, and how well they can sell it. An Amazon reviewer is looking for you made them feel at the moment.
  • Cover designers, editors, audio book help, etc. can be included in traditional publishing. That means that if you hate to sweat the details, this is a great option.
  • They can help with international rights and distribution though brick stores.
  • Because each book needs to get approval during different stages of the process, the pace is generally slower and more methodical.
  • Books are written because they seem like “a good idea at the time” don’t happen as much. Traditional publishers are more deliberate in what they pick.
  • Indies have to market harder, because there is no pre-established fan base.  Traditional publishers already have a pre-established fan base.
  • More prestige; People are coming to you instead of you going to them.
  • Opens up more award possibilities.


Cons to Traditional

  • If you farm out your cover design, editing, and more; then you won’t be able to take the reins later on. You will have to play catch up to others who have been watching this.
  • Indies generally have higher royalties.
  • Traditional publishers don’t provide as many reports as you can get as an indie.
  • It’s easier to publish massive amounts of books when you control all the components. You only answer to yourself.


I’ve heard that a lot of success can come from a hybrid approach. (Releasing several self published while others traditionally published.) Ultimately, I think it depends on what kind of life you want to live.