HomeGuidesResourcesThe Truth About Traditional vs Self vs Vanity Publishing.

The Truth About Traditional vs Self vs Vanity Publishing.

Lately, publishing has undergone a lot of changes and the entire process is not what it used to be.

In the beginning, the majority of decisions and choices revolved around the publisher – usually a large company who had the power to choose which story deserved to get published, based on the editors’ personal judgment.

In today’s modern era (thank goodness!) you are given the chance and the opportunity to publish your own book through various means. Indeed, technology has made innovation possible for all aspiring authors!

The original process and the modernized process of publishing are very different from each other in terms of the role the author plays in the entire process, and what the publishing companies will get in return for choosing to publish your book.

Currently, There are three types of publishing – traditional publishing, vanity publishing, and self-publishing.

Here’s a detailed outline about each publishing type. I hope this publishing guide will help you choose the best publishing type for you, as an author.


A company purchases the right to publish your story, then handle’s the book production, marketing, distribution and sales of the story they purchased. The publisher then pays the writer of the story (author) a percentage of each book sold (royalty). The publisher has taken on the financial risk of producing and selling a story they believe will earn a return on their investment.

In this type of publishing, the author and their agent work through the entire publication process under the direct and close supervision of a publishing company. The publishing company works with both the author and author’s agent in the publishing processes from start to finish. The publisher pays all costs related to publishing, marketing, distribution and sales of the book.

This type of publishing is very convenient for authors because the publishing company will take care of the majority of the work done during the entire process of publishing. The employees of the publishing company are the ones who will be working to make the manuscript ready for publishing – this includes editing, layout, graphics design, and other essential tasks to make the manuscript ready for printing, binding, and distribution. In some cases, the publisher pays the author an advance for their story. That means an advance on the potential profits from the sales of books.

Under traditional publishing, final decisions on the book is determined by the book publisher. This includes cover design, marketing, positioning and even how many copies to print because the publisher is the one PAYING for the production of the book. The publisher has bought the rights to the story and can do with it what it wants.

Publishing houses get to decide the overall appearance of the book, the stores where the finished product will be displayed, and the mode of advertising.

The publishing industry is a very competitive field. Being chosen from the many manuscripts and winning the attention of publishing houses is one of the biggest struggles almost all traditionally published authors go through. Many stories involve years of waiting before their work is finally chosen and before their work can finally reach readers.

For authors that don’t want to wait years of querying, getting an agent, or authors who don’t want to lose control of their work, they explore other options in publishing.


The term “vanity press” is considered pejorative, implying that an author who uses such a service is publishing out of vanity and that his or her work would otherwise not be commercially successful. A vanity press may assert control over rights to the published work and provide limited or no editing, cover art, or marketing services in exchange for their fee.[3] Vanity presses may engage in deceptive practices or costly services with limited recourse available to the writer. In the US, these practices may be cited by the Better Business Bureau as unfavorable reports by consumers.[4]

Over the year though, vanity publishing has been getting a rather negative reputation because of the many vanity publishing companies that scam authors by not keeping their end of the agreed bargain. Many vanity publishing companies not only assume the rights to publish the story, but also charges the author for the privilege.

This type of publishing can rarely be a good fit for most authors, due to the obvious reason that so much of the pressure in terms of sales solely rely on the author.


In Self-publishing, authors are given their complete artistic freedom from the content of their products to the cover, and they are also responsible for quality control and even the marketing. The author is now acting as the Publisher in all ways.

Some of the benefits of self-publishing include allowing the authors all the ability to take charge of his work from manuscript editing to cover selection. It gives authors a sense of empowerment over their hard-worked product. Aside from this, the long and tedious process of the common publishing process is eliminated.

Self publishing is also good for authors who cannot interest a traditional publisher in their work. Maybe the book falls out of line with what traditional publishers are looking for. Or, the author is from an undeserved population.

Self publishing a book takes hard work and dedication from the author, especially in the copy editing and in the preparation of the book cover layout and design. Acting as the publisher, you want to make sure your product (book) is produced at a high standard for your readers.

Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing vs Vanity Publishing – which one suits YOU better?




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