Self-Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing, Which is Best? [Review]

How Do I Decide?

How Do I Decide? By Rachelle Gardner

It has been interesting to watch the rise of self-publishing, especially over the last couple years.

I remember reading post after post about how self-publishing was going to destroy the book industry…and I bought into it.

But it is becoming more and more difficult to avoid self-publishing and the self-publishing versus traditional publishing debate. Self-publishing is becoming mainstream, profitable, and even—dare I say—socially acceptable.

This abrupt switch has me curious, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to review Rachelle Gardner’s new e-book How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing (A Field Guide for Authors). What I found most interesting is Gardner, a reputable literary agent, self-published this book. In my mind, this qualifies her to write on this subject in a fair and balanced way.

Although the title aptly summarizes the six chapters, I wanted to add it’s not just for those wondering which method of publishing to pursue. How Do I Decide? works to change the question from “Which one should I choose?” to “How can I utilize these tools best to support my goals?”

I loved Gardner’s straightforward approach to this complex question. She spends time analysing the pros and cons for both traditional publishing and self-publishing. As well she works to dispel common self-publishing myths and makes it crystal clear that self-publishing should not be an excuse to publish poor writing.

As someone who has been disappointed with self-published books in the past, I’m especially thankful for this last point.

This short read is packed with material and is perfect for people who aren’t quite sure where to start with publishing, people who want to understand all the different publishing options, and people looking for credible resources to get started.

Did I mention chapter six is all about resources? In my opinion this is where the real value of this book comes in. It lists further information on self-publishing, how to get an agent, where to look for editors, reputable book cover designers, and more.

My only criticism of the book is a section with a little quiz—cute, but since it’s an e-book I’m not quite certain how to fill it out.

Overall I found this an easy and a worthwhile read. I came away from this book with a different viewpoint towards publishing and look forward to where it leads me.

  • I’m curious to know what your verdict is on which way is best.

  • Deep down I’m a traditionalist, but I think self-publishing is the right decision in some cases. For example if you are hooked up with distribution and have a strong platform to sell from then you can do it yourself. Or if your book is super niche… Like knitting patterns perhaps? But if you want to sell in major bookstores and get mainstream attention, then I would suggest considerig traditional publishing. For the street cred.