The Power of Self-Publishing: Why It Outshines the Big 5 Publishers

the power of teamwork

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

While a lot has changed in the book publishing industry, the Big 5 publishers still play a massive role in the traditional publishing landscape. Over the last decade and half, however, self-publishing has emerged as a viable and sustainable alternative, offering authors benefits and opportunities to take charge of their own publishing careers.

Who are the Big 5 publishers?

The Big 5 publishers are renowned companies in the publishing industry, each with its own impressive catalog of authors and titles.

Penguin Random House

One of the largest publishing houses, Penguin Random House publishes a wide range of genres, including literary fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, and more. Its imprints include Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and Random House Children’s Books.

Hachette Book Group

Hachette Book Group publishes books in fiction, nonfiction, young adult, and children’s books. Its imprints include Grand Central Publishing and Little, Brown and Company.

Harper Collins

Harper Collins is known for publishing a diverse range of genres, including literary fiction, romance, mysteries, and young adult. Its imprints include William Morrow and Avon Books.

Simon and Schuster

Simon and Schuster publish books across fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, and self-help. They have imprints like Atria Books and Gallery Books. (It’s worth noting that Penguin Random House attempted to acquire Simon and Schuster in 2020, but the deal was blocked by a federal judge.)


Macmillan encompasses various imprints and specializes in publishing academic, trade, and educational books. Its imprints include St. Martin’s Press and Henry Holt.

The limitations of traditional publishing

While traditional publishing has its merits, it also comes with limitations that can be restrictive for authors.

Lack of creative control

Traditional publishers often exert significant control over an author’s work, including editorial decisions, book cover design, and title selection. Authors may have limited say in how their book is presented to the world.

Lengthy publishing process

The traditional publishing process is time-consuming and can take years from the time a book is acquired to its release. Authors often have to navigate the complexities of submissions, literary agents, and the internal review processes of publishing houses.

Limited royalties and revenue

While offering an advance as part of most publishing deals, traditional publishers typically offer authors lower royalty rates, often ranging from 10–15 percent of the book’s net sales.

Why self-publishing is a game-changer for authors

Self-publishing has revolutionized the publishing industry, empowering authors to take control of their careers. Some of the benefits of self-publishing include:

  • No gatekeepers. Self-published authors don’t have to get the green light from an agent or an editor — a process that can take months in the best case-scenario and may never happen in the worst. By self-publishing, authors are their own agents.
  • Total creative control. Self-publishing grants authors complete creative control over their books. From writing style to cover design and marketing strategies, a self-published author has the freedom to make decisions that align with his or her vision that the Big 5 publishers just can’t offer.
  • You retain all your rights. When an author signs with a traditional publisher, he or she signs away some primary rights (like, allowing them to be the first to publish your book), and possibly subsidiary rights as well, like TV and film. An independent author retains 100 percent of all rights. 
  • Faster time-to-market. Self-publishing allows authors to bring their books to market much faster, bypassing the lengthy publishing schedule of a traditional publisher.
  • Better royalties. Traditionally published authors can expect to earn 10–15 percent of the book’s net sales. Self-published authors can earn much higher royalties per sale. BookBaby authors who sell their books via Bookshop earn 50 percent on printed books, 75 percent on audiobooks, and 85 percent on eBook sales.

Overcome the challenges of book publishing with BookBaby

While self-publishing offers myriad benefits, publishing a book always comes with its share of challenges. A self-published author retains complete creative control — but that also means you are responsible for bringing your book to market. This includes steps like editing, eBook conversion, formatting, cover design, and distribution.

That’s why choosing BookBaby as your self-publishing partner is a smart career move. We provide authors with the tools, resources, and support to navigate the self-publishing industry by providing:

  • Professional publishing services. BookBaby offers a range of author services, including editing, design, and formatting, to ensure your book meets industry standards.
  • Print on demand. BookBaby’s print-on-demand services allow authors to have their books printed and shipped as orders are placed, eliminating the need for large print runs and inventory management.
  • Worldwide distribution. BookBaby provides authors with global distribution for eBooks and print books, making their books available through online retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books as well as in libraries and brick-and-mortar bookstores.
  • Marketing and promotion. BookBaby offers marketing and promotional services to help authors reach their target audience. From book cover design and author websites to social media promotion and advertising, BookBaby supports authors in building their author platform and increasing book sales.

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  1. Interesting article Philip. In some ways, self publishing is a game changer, but in the case of Amazon, how much creative control do you really have? Bots and AI review the Content. If it detects a red flag word, the work is deleted. At least movies have a rating system and you know what you’re getting into. Thank you


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