I have an IT textbook that is about 120,000 words which was accepted for publishing at several very reputable publishers. My goal is to get the text out to as many people as possible. My secondary goal is to make some money but that is not all that likely as far as I have heard. The audience is university students, researchers, and professionals. It is a textbook but one of the publishers will not publish it as such but just a monograph. In the self-publishing world there are IngramSpark and Amazon that would be good routes to go. I am wondering what people think about which is preferable, self-publishing or traditional publishers. Traditional publishers will take the rights to the content and pay around 9 to 11 percent. Self-publishing is more like 60 to 70 percent. I would publish both paperback and digital.


In academia, traditional publishing is a signal to readers that a book may be trusted. When I'm studying science or technology (and reading textbooks), I am usually not yet able to judge whether a book presents the current consensus of the scientific or technical community or contains misleading falsehoods. Self-published academic works give the impression of being rejected by respectable publishers because they were written by quacks. I would therefore never buy self-published textbooks, unless the author was famous (and possibly not even then, because some famous tech writers self-published abominable trash).

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  • Thanks for the feedback. Seems that you and S. Mitchell both agree that traditional publishing is preferable. The benefits of self-publishing are, among others, that one keeps the rights to the material and that you can control updates, versions, pricing and so on. I like that I can keep the price low so that I can reach more readers. I would sell the book for under $10 or perhaps break it up into two and sell each for under $10. – Jen Oct 14 '19 at 5:36

If you were a university lecturer deciding on the course textbook, would you choose a self-published one, no matter how good you thought it was?

If you were a reader looking for a book about a particular IT subject, where would you look? If you found a self-published title, would you be likely to buy it?

What are the less ten books you have bought? How many of them were self-published?

For me it's a no-brainer: if a traditional publisher will take it on, go with them.

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  • The traditional route would charge above $50 probably.There is a large distributor that you can use called IngramSpark and they reach 39,000 outlets including all the major ones (Barnes and Noble, Universities, etc). But as both of you pointed out, the reputation of traditionally published books is much greater. When I see a book on Amazon though, I don't usually worry about whether it comes from a traditional publisher or not. I just look at the TOC and maybe read a bit and then decide. Oh well, it is a hard decision. – Jen Oct 14 '19 at 5:37

Trad publishers are far better for this. How would you market and sell it yourself? How would you compete against vetted books by publishers if you are not a very famous name in the field already?

If your name is Einstein or Hawking then self publishing would make you more money. Charging less while still making more because you get a bigger slice would also reach more people. win win!

So how famous are you? How hard do you want to market this book?

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