|I've thought about traditional publishing off and on for several years. What has stopped me from going that route has been the time and money involved. Yes, money. It takes money to send out hundreds of pages here and there for people who may reject your work, and then shamelessly steal your ideas(ala The Matrix movie which was based on a script that was shopped around). And then there's the way publishing companies accept manuscripts.
Let's say Publishing Company A is accepting manuscripts for publication. That sounds great right? The catch is, if you send them your manuscript, they don't want you shopping it around to anyone else from anywhere from three months to six months. That means if you have a lot of publishers you are interested in, you might have to wait years before you get a yes, and that's only if your work is ready to be published right then and there.
There are other ways to be published. If you secure an agent, your agent will send off your manuscript(or a query letter with the synopsis of your book) to publishers and negotiate on your behalf. Sounds easier, huh? Agents get a percentage of your book sales, anywhere from 15 to 20 percent. And getting an agent is tough if you don't write in genres that are mainstream or popular. The agents I've looked up don't represent the genres I write in, which is why I haven't gone this route.
Then there's the publishing contract. It starts off by giving the author an advance. For most first time authors, this isn't a lot, and is representative of what the publisher hopes to get back in sales. Royalties, the money you are paid for every book sold, aren't so great either. They can be as low as 6% for a cheap paperback, or 10% for a hardback. So if an author has a paperback book being sold for $5 in Walmart, they are only making about 30 cents if they are a first time author. Fifty cents if it's a hardcover. The vast majority of the profit is going to the publisher. If an agent is involved, the author is getting back even less money. Prices aren't set by the author either. The publisher could decide to put your book on sale for x amount of time, and as an author, there's nothing you can do.
For these reasons, I've decided not to be published traditionally. I'm not arrogant about it. I don't think I'm the best author ever, but I would like to have more autonomy than publishers can offer me right now.
If I'm successful enough on my own in the future, and the right deal comes along, then I might change my mind. Never say never, I say.