Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publishing vs Hybrid Publishing

Saturday, August 27, 2016
As you gain writing experience and move toward publication, you have some decisions to make. Chief among them – should you self-publish, traditionally publish, or do a little of both?

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing some self-publishing since I started hearing about authors who are “hybrid authors.” Some of their work is traditionally published. Some of it is self-published. The key to doing this successfully is in understanding what types of writing benefit from each approach.

Liz Schulte started my education when I sat next to her at a conference luncheon. Liz, the author of approximately 27 self-published novels, asked me what I write. When I told her that my work is educational nonfiction for tweens and teens, she nodded. Then she said something I’d never heard before from a self-published author. “You’re work wouldn’t sell if you self-published it.”

My books sell to school and library markets that buy books from educational publishers based on the reputations of those publishers and book write-ups in School Library Journal. Self-published books don’t have access to these markets at the national level I currently enjoy.

Another benefit of traditional publishing is the access to international markets. Since my conversation with Liz, I've been doing some reading. I just read a post about whether self-published authors need agents. The author pointed out that no self-published book has become an international success. Sure enough, I’ve been keeping my eyes open as various writers announce the international editions of their books. Not a single one of these books was self-published. I don’t know if these rights were sold via an agent or the publisher, but traditional publishing seems to be the key.

Obviously self-publishing isn't all bad. It is a good choice if you have a readily defined market that you can reach without the help of a publisher. For me, that would be my fellow writers. As I speak at conferences and workshops, it would be amazing if I had a book of my how-tos to sell. The market probably isn’t big enough to interest a traditional publisher but that’s okay. I have the material. I have access to the market. And I wouldn’t have to share the money.  The market might not be huge, but that's not as great a problem when you don't have to split the profits. This wouldn't be the right choice for everything I write, but for some of my work it makes sense.

Traditional publishing, self-publishing, or hybrid publishing. Which road to publication would you chose?


Sue Bradford Edwards is the instructor for our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next section of this class begins on October 3rd.


Margo Dill said...

This is so interesting because at my writing retreat, some of those ladies also recently heard Liz Schulte talk and are inspired by her work and story and career! I have also been toying with the idea. But I want to kind of get my life in order before I do that. . .lol

I was thinking of creating some kind of small book for people to download when they signed up for my newsletter or something like that. Start small and build from that.

Sioux Roslawski said...

First of all, I chuckled when I read Margo's comment. When do we EVER get our life in order? If she succeeds in doing that, she needs to write a how-to book explaining how she did it.

I think a book to sell to your workshop participants would be a great idea. As writers, I think we need to be flexible. Our publishing needs are not one-size-fits-all. A collection of my family's stories? Self publishing would be the way to go. A picture book? Traditional publishing, for sure.

Good luck as you perhaps embark on this new endeavor. I, for one, would be glad to buy your book about writing and getting published.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Margo and Sioux,
Funny how this is something so many of us are considering. Good luck with your endeavors -- both in writing and in getting our lives in order!

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