Can Anyone Really Tell the Difference Between Self-Published and Traditionally Published Books Now?

Can Anyone Really Tell the Difference Between Self-Published and Traditionally Published Books Now?


There is, on Facebook, a popular group that does reviews of articles, books, etc. (and their focus is on the same niche topic as my book). I sent them an inquiry on how to submit my latest historical novel. They responded by telling me that, per their rules, they will not accept “self-published books.” I found that frustrating and, in a way, a bit discriminating.

I wrote back telling them that I’ve read a lot of books in my lifetime (I am 74 years old), both traditionally published books and self-published books, and I have not seen any difference between the two, especially in their quality.

I know that I, personally, have never turned up my nose at any self-published books, nor do I believe very many customers when they decide to purchase a book, put those back on the store shelf when they discover it was self-published, nor do I believe that most customers can even tell that a book was self-published.

Please, if you don’t mind, enlighten me as to what the problem is with self-published books, a least from your standpoint.

I am still waiting for their response, which I doubt will happen. Personally, when I shop for a book I never look to see if it was self-published, but instead, I look at the quality of the book overall, and, mostly, I look to see if the story interests me. I am thankful that both online bookstores and brick and mortar book stores do not refuse to put books on their shelves simply because they are self-published, at least to my knowledge anyway.


Physically, it’s true that you can’t tell the difference between self-published books and traditionally published ones. The reason is because many traditionally published books are printed now using print on demand technology. Self-published books look just like traditionally published ones.

Where you can find the difference, however, is in the text inside. A book can look stunningly beautiful. But, if the writing is bad, nothing can save it.

There are lots of author meat markets out there selling pretty much anything and everything (garbage). Doing that gives a bad name to all self-published authors and, yes, it’s entirely unfair. The large publishing services companies will publish just about anything if the author has enough money in their wallet.

That organization on Facebook should at least agree to take a look at your book before deciding whether or not to review it. It’s unfortunate they are judging your book based solely on the actions of author meat markets.

Some bookstores and libraries do indeed refuse to sell books published by some publishers. See #10 in THIS ARTICLE for an example.

At BookLocker, we do not publish everything coming over the e-transom. No retailer or library has ever refused to purchase any of our books just because they were self-published. But, that’s because we’re not an author meat market.

Angela Hoy lives on a mountain in North Georgia. She is the publisher of, the President and CEO of and AbuzzPress, and the author of 24 books.

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Angela is not only the publisher of She is President & CEO of,
a self-publishing services company that has been in business since 1998. Ask her anything.