Authors prefer traditional publishers to self-publishing. Surprised?

Contemporary authors prefer traditional publishers to self-publishing, a survey finds.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Writers prefer to be published by a traditional publisher over self-publishing. Go figure.

More than 9,000 authors responded to questions about the publishing industry in a report to be issued next week. Of the writers surveyed, 57.8% said they’d rather go the traditional route with their next book than try self-publishing.

These aren’t just old-fashioned authors. That percentage includes writers who have been both self-published and traditionally published. What’s more, the survey was conducted by Writers Digest and Digital Book World -- which certainly captures people interested in digital publishing.

Of course, traditional publishing houses publish e-books too. They’ll be among those at the Digital Book World Conference, which takes place in New York next week. That’s where the report will be presented with its full details.


Thursday, on the Digital Book World Site, Dana Beth Weinberg provides a preview of the Digital Book World and Writers Digest 2014 Author Survey. She writes:

“Despite the rise of self-publishing and the enthusiasm with which self-published authors celebrate its ascendance, overall, the authors surveyed are more interested in traditionally publishing their next book. The greatest preference for traditionally publishing was reported by traditionally published authors (87.2%) followed by not-yet-published authors (76.8%). Among authors who have self-published, more than half hoped to publish with traditional publishers -- 53.5% of self-published authors and 57.8% of hybrid authors.”

A graph on the site shows more information. Most authors and aspiring writers are open to a mix of traditional publishing and self publishing; very few are dedicated to self-publishing only. Even among those who define themselves as self-published authors, more than half -- about 53% -- would prefer that their next book be published by a traditional publisher.

This is the second year that the survey has been conducted. It’s a self-selecting survey of interested parties, so, Weinberg warns, the numbers aren’t scientific. But it does show that traditional publishers are doing something right -- authors still like them lots.


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