In an age when so many authors and speakers are finding success with self-publishing, people are asking more and more, “Why would I want a traditional publisher?”

Here are six big 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 single 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.

3. Expanding your readership
Even though writers usually need to develop a platform, and they must invest considerable work promoting their books, a traditional publisher’s marketing efforts can reach entirely different audiences, often multiplying the author’s reach.

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. 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.

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

What are your thoughts? Are you pursuing traditional publishing, self-publishing, or both?

Rachelle Gardner is an agent with Books & Such Literary, looking for authors with long-term publishing potential. She represents Christian fiction and non-fiction, with a particular fondness for strong spiritual memoirs and books that address contemporary issues in Christianity.

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