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Self-publishing vs Traditional Publishing: Learn the Benefits of Self-Publishing vs Traditional

March 29, 2021 (Last Updated March 26, 2021)

48 Hour Books

You have written a book and now you need to decide which publishing route you want to take. When it’s time to publish your book, you can choose to self-publish or use traditional publishing. Here, we will outline the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, weigh their pros and cons and provide information on how 48 Hour Books can help get you started on your road to self-publishing.

Traditional Book Publishing

With traditional book publishing, a publishing company takes complete control of the publishing process of your book. You write the book and the publishing company edits, formats, designs, and prints it. They are also in charge of distribution and marketing. In return, they keep a portion of the profits.

What are the pros and cons of using a traditional book publisher?


You may receive an “advance” once you sign with a publishing company, which is like paying you royalties ahead of time.  You also can sit back while your book is edited, formatted, designed, printed, and marketed. You do not have to worry about raising and saving money to launch your book. This is all taken care of for you when you sign with a traditional book publisher.

Traditional book publishing companies have greater access to getting your book in stores and online, so if you manage to find a publishing agent and sign a contract, you can feel relatively confident that your book will make it to the shelves and see some sort of profit. By signing with a traditional book publisher, believe it or not, you’re already in an exclusive club of authors.


You are not fully in control of how and whether your book is published. If you manage to sign with a publishing agent, it is up to you agent to pitch your book to the publishing company. This can end up becoming a waiting game. Also, if you do manage to get published, if your book does not sell well, the publisher could drop you as a client, meaning you would have to wait until your contract ends to retain the rights to your book, since the publishing company would own your ISBN and copyright. Make sure you ask these questions when you are submitting your book to be considered by different book publishing companies.

Another con is that is it difficult to acquire a book publishing deal. Traditional book publishing companies are looking for “safe bets.” They want to sign authors with large, embedded followings. Book publishing companies are looking for a guaranteed best seller. Very few proposals are accepted by book publishing agents - especially proposals from unknown authors. If you do not have a guaranteed audience, you may want to consider submitting your manuscript to smaller, independent publishers.

The whole process of traditional publishing is also long and can take years to for your book to go to print. You also have limited control of the creative aspects and marketing. Very few proposals are accepted especially from unknown authors

When you sign with a book publishing company, you also need to split your profits if you do sell your book, which can take a big bite out of your book income. If you’re trying to make money from your book, be prepared to account for all of the money that will be going directly to the publishing company and your publishing agent.


Think of self-publishing as the “DIY” version of book publishing. The benefits of Self-publishing are vast but requires you to publish your creative work yourself, with no help from a traditional book publisher. When you self-publish a book, you own all of the rights to your book. You control the whole process from writing to printing to distribution.  

What are the pros and cons of self-publishing?


You’re in control and you own the rights to your work. You can buy your own ISBN and barcode to sell your books in stores and online. With a traditional book publishing company and even some self-publishing platforms like KDP, they may own the ISBN, meaning you can only sell your book to their approved retailers. When you self-publish, you buy and own your ISBN and don’t have to worry about purchasing a new one if you want to switch to self-publishing.

When you self-publish, you also don’t have to share any royalties if you don’t want to. You won’t earn money until people start buying your book, but once it sells, you don’t have to share the profits with a publisher because you are your own publisher. Make sure you research the percentage of royalties that some online self-publishing companies earn, so you can then price your book accordingly. If you choose to sell your book on your own, as long as you have strong marketing efforts, you have the potential to keep 100% of your profits by selling through your personal website or reaching out to local bookstores.

You are also in control of the how you want your book to look, the materials it is printed with, and the branding of your book. You have complete freedom to make your story the way you want to make it and design the book as you always imagined.


You will be completely responsible for every stage of the book publishing process, including funding the printing costs, design and editing costs, the marketing budget, and distribution. Half the battle of self-publishing is making sure you have a budget-friendly plan if you need to hire an editor or designer. Once your book is edited, formatted, and designed, you can start looking for a printer and calculate those costs.

One of the bigger challenges an author faces when self-publishing a book is marketing. To successfully get the word out about your book, you have to have strong marketing efforts. Luckily, there are many ways to market your self-published book without breaking the bank, such as having a strong social media presence, blog writing, and guest speaking on podcasts. With a modest budget, you can focus advertising efforts on social media or host a giveaway.

Ultimately, self-publishing is becoming an increasingly popular way to publish books and is the avenue many authors, especially new authors, end up taking. Traditional book publishing has become an exclusive club and these companies overlook many great authors.

How 48 Hour Books Can Help You Self-Publish

If you plan on selling your book in stores, you’ll need to get an ISBN. When you print with 48 Hour Books, you can easily buy an ISBN and barcode package in singles or blocks of 10, 100, or 1,000. Simply request this on your online order form with us and we will send you the information to request an ISBN.

If you need help formatting your book, we have free downloadable templates that open in most word-processing computer programs. These templates are available in four different standard sizes, so you don’t have to worry about having the proper page size when you go to print your book. Simply download the template and start typing! We also have cover templates available that open in InDesign. If you need extra help designing your cover, our Create-a-Cover service is an affordable option to ensure your book is designed to your liking, without the stress of creating it yourself.

When it’s time to print your book, 48 Hour Books offers the best bookstore quality books in online book printing. We understand that the process can be overwhelming when you start the printing process, so we have created our Ultimate Guide sample book to provide information on printing and self-publishing and provide samples of our paper and cover options. 

Other online book printing companies could take forever to get back to you if you have a question. Our customer service answers your questions thoughtfully and promptly. We’re here to help every step of the way.

Ready to self-publish?Get started today!


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