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Indie Publishing: What’s Publishing Like in 2024?

The dream of becoming a published author entices hundreds of thousands of creative authors every year. However, the path to publication is a labyrinthine journey, even for previously published authors. Today, let’s chat about whether traditional publishing is worth it in 2024.

Indie Publishing: What's Publishing Like in 2024

Disclaimer: Let’s start by disclosing that I am an indie author, so my take is biased.


Let’s start off by covering some sobering stats, so we’re clear about what publishing is like in 2024.

  • Amazon hosts over 30 million titles, with about half in English.

  • Amazon sells over 70% of all books in the US.

  • Apple and Barnes & Noble account for about 10% each.

  • All other platforms make up the remaining 10%.

  • Amazon pays over $500 million in royalties to over 1 million self-publishing authors each year.

  • Only 1% of audiobooks on Audible are self-published.

  • Self-published books account for 31% of Amazon’s ebook sales.

Authors are confronted with a multitude of options, each accompanied by its own set of advantages and challenges. Traditional publishing once considered the gold standard, now shares the stage with indie publishing and hybrid models. While traditional publishing remains a cornerstone of the industry, it has adapted to the changing needs and preferences of authors and readers alike.

Traditional publishing remains a cornerstone of the industry, characterized by established publishing houses with extensive distribution networks and marketing resources. However, the traditional model is not without its complexities. At the heart of traditional publishing lies the selection process, where manuscripts are meticulously evaluated based on their market potential. Publishers seek compelling content, authors with a platform, and timely topics that resonate with their target audience. For many aspiring authors, securing a traditional publishing deal is akin to winning the lottery. Agents, often seen as the gatekeepers to many publishing houses, play a crucial role in the traditional publishing process. They act as intermediaries between authors and publishers, advocating for their clients and negotiating favorable deals. While some publishing houses accept direct submissions, many require authors to secure representation from a reputable literary agent. This adds an additional layer of scrutiny to the submission process, as agents must believe in the commercial viability of a manuscript before pitching it to publishers.


One of the primary benefits of traditional publishing is the advance on royalties offered to authors. These advances serve as upfront financial support, allowing authors to focus on their craft without worrying about immediate financial concerns. While advances can vary widely depending on factors such as genre, author experience, and market trends, they typically range from a few thousand dollars to six-figure sums. However, these advances must be earned back through book sales before authors receive additional royalties.

In terms of royalties, traditional publishing typically offers lower royalty rates compared to self-publishing and hybrid models. Royalty rates can vary depending on factors such as format (e.g., hardcover, paperback, ebook), sales volume, and contractual agreements. On average, royalty rates for traditional publishing range from 7% to 25% of the book's net sales. While this may seem lower than other publishing models, traditional publishing offers authors access to professional publishing resources and wider distribution for more sales.


In traditional publishing, the publisher assumes responsibility for book production, including editing, cover design, formatting, and distribution. While this relieves authors of certain burdens, it also means relinquishing creative control over their work. Publishing Houses concentrate on the distribution side, by putting your book in physical stores and making sure your novel gets recognition on online platforms. Traditional publishers have established relationships with retailers, reviewers, and media outlets, allowing them to reach a broader audience and generate buzz for their authors' books. Even still, they tend to leave authors to spearhead promotional activities. 


When signing with a traditional publisher, authors grant various distribution rights, including print, digital, audio, and foreign rights. While this broadens the reach of their work, it also entails surrendering a degree of control over how their book is disseminated. However, authors can negotiate certain rights and licensing agreements to retain ownership of their intellectual property and explore alternative revenue streams. Additionally, traditional publishers often have the resources and expertise to navigate complex licensing agreements and maximize authors' earning potential.


Before embarking on the traditional publishing journey, authors must weigh the pros and cons. While traditional publishing offers certain advantages, such as prestige and financial support, it may not be the ideal path for everyone. You must carefully assess your objectives and consider alternative publishing models, such as indie, coop, or hybrid publishing. Ultimately, the decision to pursue traditional publishing hinges on individual goals and priorities. Here are some pros and cons that may help you decide what is right for you.

Pros of Traditional Publishing

The Advance: Traditional publishing offers upfront financial support, providing authors with a financial cushion during the publication process.

Professional Resources: Authors gain access to professional publishing resources, including expert editors, cover designers, and marketing teams.

Validation: Securing a traditional publishing deal provides industry validation, signaling to readers and peers the quality and marketability of the author's work.

Cons of Traditional Publishing

Creative Control: Authors may experience limited creative control over their work, as publishing houses retain the final say on aspects such as cover design and editorial decisions.

Low Royalties: Traditional publishing typically offers lower royalty rates compared to indie publishing and hybrid models, impacting authors' potential earnings per book sale.

Rights: Signing with a traditional publisher may result in the loss of certain rights, such as control over distribution channels or adaptations of the work.

Time To Release: The traditional publishing process often involves lengthy turnaround times, from manuscript submission to publication, which can delay an author's ability to reach readers and generate income.


The publishing landscape in 2024 presents a bunch of different publishing opportunities. Traditional publishing is still very much alive. By weighing the pros and cons, authors can find a path that suits them. The good news is that you can choose traditional publishing for one book, self-publishing for the next, and a hybrid for the third.


Q. What is traditional publishing?

A. Traditional publishing refers to the process in which authors submit their manuscripts to established publishing houses for consideration. If accepted, the publisher assumes responsibility for editing, designing, printing, and distributing the book.

Q. How do I submit my manuscript to a traditional publisher?

A. Most traditional publishers require authors to submit their manuscripts through literary agents. Agents act as intermediaries between authors and publishers, helping authors secure book deals and negotiate contracts.

Q. What are the advantages of traditional publishing?

A. Advantages of traditional publishing include access to professional publishing resources, industry validation, wider distribution networks, and the potential for upfront financial support through advances.

Q. What are the disadvantages of traditional publishing?

A. Disadvantages of traditional publishing may include limited creative control, lower royalty rates compared to self-publishing, loss of certain rights, and lengthy turnaround times from manuscript submission to publication.

Q. How long does it take to get published traditionally?

A. The timeline for traditional publishing varies but can take anywhere from several months to over a year from manuscript acceptance to publication, depending on factors such as editing, production schedules, and marketing strategies.

Q. Do traditional publishers accept manuscripts written by cats?

A. As adorable as it sounds, traditional publishers prefer manuscripts written by human authors.

Q. What percentage of authors get traditionally published?

A. The percentage of authors who get traditionally published is relatively low, as publishers receive numerous submissions and can only accept a limited number of manuscripts each year.

Q. Can I submit my manuscript written entirely in emojis to a traditional publisher?

A. While it might be entertaining, traditional publishers typically prefer manuscripts written in standard prose.

Q. Do traditional publishers provide marketing support?

A. Traditional publishers typically provide some level of marketing support, including distribution to bookstores, promotional materials, and press releases. However, authors are often expected to actively participate in marketing efforts.

Q. How are royalties calculated in traditional publishing?

A. Royalties in traditional publishing are typically calculated as a percentage of the book's net sales. The exact percentage varies depending on factors such as the author's contract, sales volume, and format (e.g., hardcover, paperback, ebook).

Q. What rights do authors retain in traditional publishing contracts?

A. Authors retain certain rights in traditional publishing contracts, such as copyright ownership of their work. However, they may grant the publisher rights to publish and distribute the book in specific formats and territories.

Q. Is traditional publishing right for me?

A. Whether traditional publishing is right for you depends on your goals, preferences, and the specific circumstances of your manuscript. It's essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consider alternative publishing options before making a decision.

Q. Can I negotiate a traditional publishing contract using interpretive dance?

A. While it would certainly be a unique approach, traditional publishing contracts are typically negotiated through written communication.


As always, I appreciate your support of indie authors. In the name of putting myself out there, here are a few of my works.

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