6 Reasons Authors Still Want Publishers

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

In an age when “indie publishing” has become completely accepted and in fact, more common than traditional publishing, people are asking more and more, “Why would I want a traditional publisher?”

Here are six possible reasons.

1. Objective validation

To be “chosen” by a publisher means that a group of people who are widely read, and who see dozens of new projects come across their desks every week, believe your book has value and will find a reading audience. It means that people who see all kinds of writing—from really bad to really great—believe that yours is somewhere in the ballpark of “really great.”


2. Editing and design

Virtually all writers, including the very best, will find their writing improves and their books are better because they’ve worked with talented editors. Publishers also provide a professional and polished interior and exterior look for their books, in both electronic and paper formats. Of course you can hire people to do this if you’re indie publishing, but with a traditional publisher, it’s part of the package.

3. Expanding your readership

Even though writers usually need some kind of platform and they have to do a lot of marketing on their own, the publisher does their own marketing, reaching whole different audiences than the author is able to reach on their own.

4. Mainstream media

Traditional media is still an important driver of book sales — talk shows, news programs, and reviews in major magazines, newspapers and websites (New York Times, Washington Post, People, etc.) Not every author can get this kind of publicity, but books published through traditional houses have a much better chance. Most of the mainstream media still chooses not to review or feature self-published works, except for the occasional phenom.

5. Partnership and expertise

Authors know that when they work with a publisher, they’re partnering with a company that has years, decades or even centuries of experience choosing, editing, designing, marketing and selling books. Sometimes it’s nice to know you’ve got a partner who knows what they’re doing.

6. Emotional payoff

There is just something special about the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. For many people, the dream feels fully realized when they’re contracted by a traditional publisher.

What are your thoughts? Why are YOU pursuing traditional publishing?

P.S. I have nothing against self-publishing… this isn’t an “us vs. them” thing. I just happen to work primarily in traditional publishing, and wanted to point out some advantages. This post isn’t against self-publishing.

Photo by Laëtitia Buscaylet on Unsplash

15 Responses

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  1. Valid reasons all, and none of them mean much to me now. I’m chasing Legacy, and I need friends to help, because i cannot do more than catch the raw words that swirl around cancer, and bend them to what will I still possess.
    * If these words are going to survive, I have to place them in loving hands that connect to a heart that will give a damn when I’m gone.
    * Don’t bother leaving a message, Oprah. The only people I need to talk to are my homies, and I’ll let God do the rest.

  2. Yes to all of these thoughts. As I’ve watched friends pursue indie-publishing and learned about the amount of work and knowledge that is required to do it well, I don’t have the resources, connections or the experience that would enable me to do indie publishing well. I may have that some day, but not right now. I really like the idea of having others who know way more than I do to help me along the journey to one-day publication.

  3. Cara Putman says:

    I completely agree!

  4. Gayla Grace says:

    Very good points. I self-published a book first and then published with a traditional publisher. The expertise, professionalism, and industry knowledge that a publisher brings is unmatched as a self-published author. Although I know some authors who love self-publishing, I don’t plan to go back to it.

  5. Thanks for this post Rachelle! I choose traditional publishing for all the reasons you’ve mentioned, plus I where my limits of money, time, and talent are. I know several writer friends who are awesome at indie publishing. But, I could never se myself doing it alone; although, I believe I could. I love the input of others with expertise. I love teamwork and camaraderie. I enjoy brainstorming and meetings, hopefully with little goodies. I am a social butterfly who is ready to be social after sitting alone on a chair in front of a computer screen for the better part of a day.

  6. Andy says:

    Just starting out and I am realizing how difficult it is to break into the traditional publishing scene. Is self-publishing a must to break into the game?

    • Andy, from all I have learned in the past years of conferences, being a member of several writers groups including ACFW ( America Christian Fiction Writers), talking with already published authors, editor, and agents, self-publishing is not a must to becoming an author. What is needed is patience, continual learning, being in the mix with other writers for mutual support, hard work, consistency, and more patience. I am yet to be published, but I have had proposals requested for review. So much goes into getting a book published, and the cost of publishing traditionally is very expensive which makes for the need of publishers to be very careful in selecting who to publish, and what books. Agents and partnering with one is part of that process. There are those of us that read this blog for a variety of reasons which include education, making connections with agents, and for the great camaraderie. I hope this helps you in some way. All in all it is a journey, rather than a game. All God’s best to you.

    • Linnea says:

      I don’t think so, Andy. I worked with an agent for a year without success. When we parted ways I admit I had a bit of a pity party. But I’m like a dog with a bone, or so my husband tells me, so I approached publishers directly. After about another year of rejection, I got the phone call we all wait for. “It’s unanimous. We’re publishing your book. Have a glass of wine!” Patience and persistence are probably two of the most useful tools in a writer’s tool box.

  7. I got a lot of media exposure (local media – all of the publications did a story on my picture book). I don’t think I would have gotten all of that exposure if my my book was not traditionally published.

  8. Tracy says:

    I’ll tell you about a downside to Legacy publishing. Payment. Even when your contract states when the advance has to be paid, and they still delay a year in paying it. Royalties are a joke. Delay after delay. At least indie publishing pays on time.

  9. Agree with all of these, Rachelle. Thank you.

  10. the traditional book publishing industry is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg. I had three novels published by two companies in the 1970s. The first company was McFadden Bartell, a paperback subsidiary of McFadden.the second was Manor house books, and for whom my second work started a new imprint called time past editions.
    I found out about a decade later from the McFadden-Bartell editor who bought my first book and promised I’d get rich from its publication (what did I know?).I was supposed to get under the contract I signed escalating percentages starting at 6% and proceeding upward to as much is 15% when all 100,000 copies had been sold. It was standard procedure dare to cut off your royalty statements at 16,000 copies, but we weren’t fools, we actually sold all of them.he also told me that McFadden Bartell was not the only company doing this not only to new authors, but older, seasoned ones like Norman Mailer himself. I found this hard to believe that first, but then I had occasion to meet one of Norman’s ubiquitous daughters from a like number of wives. This daughter was fairly close to her father and said that he had to keep a CPA on a six-figure retainer to go after the royalties he knew he was being robbed of. Traditional publishing companies did back then, and probably still do, keep two sets of account books. a fake one to take into court if you sue them, and one no one but the executives get to see that tells them exactly how much they really owe to their authors. I subsequently had proof, unfortunately not one I could take into court, that Manor House books operated the same way as McFadden Bartell. So my first editor was actually telling me the truth. You can get rich writing, but you can’t make a living – unless somewhere along the way you lay a golden egg with a series of books the first of which no one wanted – as a first book by an unknown author except the very last publishing house in England the book was submitted to. We are talking of course about the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. She was no doubt ripped off on that first book and then the company probably in England had second thoughts about the author who had laid an actual golden egg for them and continued laying them through the whole series. THAT kind of author can expect a fairly accurate accounting, but I have met plenty since both hardcover and paperback authors who were treated pretty much the way I was. So for a long while I joined a production company as a hired gun to write, produce and narrate television documentaries for the military channel. The money was good, and I could count on it.
    Oh, I never gave up on novels and by the late 90s I had produced a Western. All of my works are now out on Amazon as both e-books and paperbacks and two of them are also audiobooks through audible.com. But I’m still not rich because although I’m really good at content, I’m only half computer literate and I completely suck at marketing, especially in this digital age.