Do I Have a Trade Book or Should I Self Publish?

Book Publishing Decisions

A literary agent advises her authors about self-publication versus trade book publishing.

Believe it or not, we have several author-clients who successfully publish their own books. We’re happy for their success, which might sound odd coming from a literary agent.

Some authors originally came to our agency to have us place their self-published books with traditional trade book publishing companies. Others successfully self-publish their own books at the same time they are also doing trade books for royalties—and with our blessing, despite the fact that we make no commission on their self-published books.

Trade publish or self-publish?

Our agency policy is to offer honest guidance to our authors about whether they should seek trade publication or self-publication. If a book is likely to sell enough copies, trade publication is usually preferred, because legitimate book publishing companies can do a far better job of getting your books into the marketplace than you can.

However, some of our authors have targeted content appropriate for specialized niche audiences and they have the means to reach their audience. For them, self-publication makes sense.

Beware the scam artists

We prefer to advise our authors when they make the decision to self-publish, because we want to protect them from the scam artists. Recently, we saved a client from a $25,000 mistake with a rip-off company claiming to be a publisher.  Instead, the self-published book came out via a legitimate printer costing a fraction of that amount– and it looks marvelous.

Self-publishing, when done intelligently for the right reasons and with a business mentality, can be quite successful. Several of our authors routinely sell more than 100,000 copies of their titles themselves.

Copyright 2007 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

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