Traditional VS Self Publishing

As promised, here are the results of the CanWrite! Conference 2013 panel on traditional vs self publishing. The panelists were Sheila Mahoney (freelance editor),  Tom Taylor, (successful self-published author), and Halli Villegas (publisher). I won’t get into the entire discussion, but, instead, will highlight points all three agreed on for success, regardless of the route taken.

  • Make your work as good as possible, then hire an editor. This was emphasized as crucial by the panelists.
  • Writing a book is only the first step to publishing. A traditional publisher will take care of the multitude of tasks that need to occur  from that point on. A self-publisher will need to oversee all the details.
  • Be willing to spend a few thousand dollars on goods and services. Even a writer seeking an agent and a contract should be prepared to hire an editor for a substantive edit to improve the chances of success. The self-published writer will need to hire professionals for every step from editing to printing.
  • A self-published book should look as professional as any other which means proper formatting and a great cover.
  • Be prepared to promote yourself and your work online and in person. This is obvious for self-publishing. The panelists pointed out that it is now expected from traditional publishers as well since their marketing budgets and departments have shrunk drastically.


Which path are you on? What do you find most challenging as a traditionally published author?  What do you find most challenging as a self-published writer?


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  1. #1 by Joan Leacott on June 19, 2013 - 9:58 PM

    Hey Patricia, I’m on the self-publishing path. My debut novel doesn’t release until next week, so I can speak to problems that would arise post-publication. But, so far, my biggest problem has been setting up my sole proprietor publishing business and then learning, learning, learning about that side of things. Sometimes, the curve is so steep I end up feeling like a bug on its back!

    • #2 by Patricia Caviglia on June 19, 2013 - 11:48 PM

      The learning doesn’t end and the to-do list is a mile long. However, I think it’s well worth it if you want to be the sole proprietor of your career.

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