can anyone explain trad and self publishing for newbie writers?


I’ve heard online outside of Wattpad that authors who choose trad get a small percentage out of each book. Is this true or false? I want to do trad, but if this information has some truth to this then what’s going to happen with me as a writer?


Yes. One likes to give the false impression you’ll be a multi-millionaire with your published books right out of the gate and the other is a dark horse pendulum of obscurity, misery, desolation, and frustration.


Royalties with trad publishers are a lot smaller compared to those who self-publish. But the truth is, you make far less being traditionally published for each year that you are contracted with them.

Self-publishing offers more but it’s very hard to break out with as an indie author and get going because you have to do this gig all on your own.





You can ask @MichaelJSullivan here.
I'm an established full-time author - willing to answer questions if you have them

I hope he is able to help you


Ok thanks.


Please be careful who you listen to, we all know someone who has zero experience has fed you false and misleading information about trad publishing. With that out of the way, yes compared to self publishing, trad royalties are lower. But it’s not a simple comparison of royalty rates and there are many other factors you need to look at when deciding which path is better for your book.

With trad you receive a smaller percentage over a much larger volume compared to a larger percentage of a very small volume.

For example if I price my self published book at $6.99 that will earn about $4.90 per sale (less delivery fee that Amazon deducts, but I’m ignoring that for the purposes of this example). Now if that book only ever sells 10 copies, the maximum I will make is less than $50.

If I went trad and earned 25% net on the ebook and let’s say that netted me $1 per copy. If that book sold 10,000 copies due to the Big 5 reach, I have made $10,000.

So which author is doing better? The self published author who makes 70% but only ever sells a handful of copy or the trad author who receives 25% but sells a much higher volume?

You also need to consider that in self publishing YOU are the publisher and while you receive a greater cut you also bear all the expenses of cover art, formatting, editing etc. In trad the author pays nothing and money flows to them. So in my example, the self published author who makes $50 gross is still losing money due to the thousands they have paid for cover art, editing and formatting whereas the trad author is immediately making money.

You seem to be focused on micro level detail but how many queries have you sent out? What is your request rate? Do you have an offer of rep or a contract on the table? I’m not sure why you are worrying about contract terms and royalty percentages at such an early stage.


Ok, I was confused because of what goes on with the writing world.


For me, starting off trad was the best route. I learned about the process and someone else paid for all the cover art, editing and formatting. The publisher did the heavy lifting with marketing while I built my reader base. I also funnelled the royalties I earned into an account to create the start up funds I needed for self publishing.


what about when you submit the MS? How can you edit the book before submitting it to ANY literary agent?


You don’t pay for editing if you are going trad. You have critique partners who you swap chapters with. Your cps will point out issues with plot, pacing, characterisation, prose, spelling and grammar. You tighten the manuscript that way which is FREE and importantly - you learn how to give and receive critique.


Yes. In retrospect I would say this is an important threshold. It’s super tough but it taught me to see the error of my writing ways, and I’m now shredding the sequel myself. The publisher might still take it on, they have first dibs on the whole series. But if not - I think I know better what to do.


When it comes to trad from a perspective of whether your book is going to be acquired its based heavily on comps (comparative titles). The publisher looks at books that are similar to yours in their mind can indicate if it will sell well because that kind of book has been out there before so they are risking based on similar content. This is not me saying new content can’t be sold, it can, it just has to entice the publisher enough to make them believe that it will be a good sale.


Ah ok.


That’s not entirely true. When I queried I never put any comp titles and I had a 33% request rate. Yes they are helpful in telling an agent/publisher about your book, but if you don’t have any, don’t sweat it. Ultimately it’s about your story.




That’s interesting. This is just me sharing the experience of authors/agents/editors whom are more experienced than I am. But I suppose it differs for different people. But wouldn’t it be still a difference between them requesting fulls etc or deciding “yes” on a book? In the end we know once the publisher is sure something would most likely work they’ll bite.

btw have you seen the story on caroline calloway? Its hilariously frustrating and amazing (not in a good way) lol


Honestly no. I suppose that’s not fair. It depends on the agent and the book. Some agents are very clear: they want comps. Other agents – like Janet Reid – are equally clear: they couldn’t care less about comps.

They’re all looking for a great story. Yes, how they can sell it is important, but your comps definitely aren’t a make-or-break for that with most agents. They know their genres; if they get so far as reading a full, they know the comps.

If they read the pitch and they like it but aren’t sure how to sell it (based on the pitch), decent comps can help them figure out how it might slot. But most writers suck at comps, and if your query rocks, they don’t need the comps anyway.


what’s the difference between pitch and synopsis?


I found an agency and one part said “pitch/summary/synopsis” like the general plot of what the book but I’m not sure on how to put it down.