Indie, Traditional or is there another option?
Actually, there are a lot of other options. Once upon a time, an author toiled over their manuscript until it shone like the North star, and began the arduous and seemingly endless process of submitting to agents only to be rejected. They submitted again. Another rejection. The cycle continued until the right match was made with an agent who took up the process themselves, taking the manuscript and submitting it to publishing house after publishing house in an attempt to sell it for print publication where both agent and publisher took their pound of flesh from the sales before the author received royalties. That number, even in today's publishing market, often only equates to an average royalty of 8% for print sales and 12% for eBook sales.
Now with the advent of self-publishing in the 1990's, authors were given the option to skip the middleman and publish their own books through a number of retailers, allowing the author to maintain the lion's share of their royalties. Almost.
With self-publishing, the author incurs the cost of book production out of pocket, including cover design, editing, proofreading, formatting and marketing for each successive release. This is outside of the optional production of audiobooks and the associated costs and should be considered when contemplating your publishing options and their respective costs.
More and more, authors are turning to a hybrid option, choosing to self-publish some works while submitting others for traditional publication. For some, it's for the validation offered by being under a publishing house label. For others its for the broadened exposure and name recognition. It's a personal choice, and one that each author must decide on for themselves.
But there are more than "The Big Five" for publishing options. Enter: The Boutique Press. Small publishing houses are popping up all over, to fill the need for authors who are frustrated with the inundated markets of self-published works and are unable to shoulder the financial burden to self-publish on their own. Because of their smaller staff, many boutique presses are able to provide the same services as larger firms while offering a higher percentage of royalty to the author.
Whatever path you choose, do your research and find the right fit for you. Your story should be told, no matter who helps you tell it.