Let us look at some of the main the pros and cons of self-publishing, versus working with a traditional publisher.
• Guaranteed publication
• You can control the content, and produce your book as you wish
• You can determine the production timeline, and not have to wait up to a year for publication
• You will receive a far higher percentage of the royalties than with a publisher
• To some degree you can control distribution, and where your work is made available
• Using a traditional publisher can give you more access to reviewers and review services
• A publisher can sell your book to distributors, and get it into book stores
So, selling the idea of your book is the first step. As publishers are keen to minimize risk, they are very cautious when it comes to taking on unpublished writers. You could spend many months, or even years, trying to interest a publisher in your work.
Producing a quality book that captures and presents your story beautifully is the next step. This can often take a full year through a traditional publisher, versus around one month through self-publishing.
You will then move on to marketing and promotion, for which a publisher would expect you to largely take responsibility. They can make your book available through traditional book stores, but more than half of books sold in the U.S. are now sold online. For their work in production and distribution, publishers will absorb most of the royalties, leaving authors with around 10%-12% of the retail price. Using a self-publishing approach can give you a much higher percentage – up to 70% in certain cases.
The fact that traditional publishers are highly risk averse when it comes to unpublished authors may mean that self-publishing is the only option. But as long as your work does not contravene any rules on content, it is guaranteed to be published.
Most people would in any case prefer to take control of their work and their earnings, and have the book available much sooner than through a regular publisher. The book market is always evolving, but the current situation in many ways favors those who can produce and market their own books.