Updated: 5 days ago
You’ve written your book and now it’s time to put it out into the world… but how? Where do you even start? The answer is… it depends.
There are several avenues you can take when it comes to getting your work published, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The first step that you, as an author, need to take is to identify which one best suits your personal goals, budget, and timeline. To help you on your way, let’s discuss the pros and cons of the three most common methods of publishing.
The name gives it away, doesn’t it? Self-publishing is essentially a do-it-yourself route that will require you to spearhead all creative and financial aspects of getting your book to print. This includes searching for and hiring a reliable team of contractors to get your manuscript ready for publication. You’ll need an editor, proof reader, formatter, indexer (if applicable), and typesetter. Depending on the type of book you’ve written, you may also want to invest in an illustrator and a cover designer to ensure the visual elements of your book fit your vision.
Once completed to your satisfaction, you’re then free to submit your book to a publishing facilitator such as Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Apple Books, or Barnes and Noble Press.
· Higher profit margins from each book sale
· Complete financial control over where your funds are being allocated
· Total creative jurisdiction to see your vision through to the end
· Authority over how and who you hire
· Large learning curve if you’re not familiar with the publishing industry
· Higher start up costs, including those for external contractors and services
· Potentially unreliable or unprofessional contractors
· Major time investment
· Often very little payoff getting your self-published book into a physical bookstore
Self-publishing is a good choice for you if you are well-versed in the ins and outs of the publishing industry (or can research what you don’t know) and would like to sell your books to your readers directly. The responsibility of marketing your book, either independently or by hiring an additional contractor and getting it into the hands of readers, falls to you.
It can be a time-consuming and expensive undertaking, but if having complete creative control is important to you, then this may be the avenue to consider.
Hybrid publishing holds hands with self-publishing in many ways. They are similar in the sense that the author still maintains their rights and creative control over their work. Where they differ is how the work is delegated. With hybrid publishing, you don’t rely on individual contractors. Instead, you hire a single entity to manage all facets of the publishing process. Think of it as a primarily author-subsidized publishing model.
An established hybrid publisher is highly skilled and replaces the need for freelancers or contract positions. Proofreading, formatting, typesetting, cover design, and marketing plans are typically handled by the hybrid publisher, making them a great option for authors for who don’t have a lot of publishing or sales experience. The publisher is responsible for producing and distributing professional-quality books.
· Higher royalties and shorter timelines on publication than are seen in traditional publishing
· Author maintains complete creative control
· Access to an experienced publisher who is familiar with the industry
· Greater potential for your book to end up in bookstores and retail shops
· Most of the costs of publishing are still born by the author
· Authors are not given an advance on royalties
· Odds are still comparatively low for your book to turn up in a physical bookshop
Hybrid publishing is a great option for authors who want to get their book to market quickly but may be unfamiliar or unexperienced with the publishing industry. It ensures that the author still maintains creative control while also giving them access to an experienced professional who can provide valuable resources and insights.
A word of caution: Be wary of publishers who don’t vet their submissions or don’t give any indication that they will ensure editorial, design, and production quality. If they would publish anything for the right price, this may be a sign that they are a vanity press (subsidy publisher) misrepresenting themselves as a hybrid-publisher.
If you’ve ever walked into a bookstore and seen the shelves lined with glossy covers, then you’ve already seen traditional publishing in action. However, it’s a long road to get to that point.
To begin, most traditional publishing houses do not accept manuscripts directly from authors. While some do, this is almost always an exception, not the rule. The majority of formal publishers will only consider literary admissions that are provided to them via a literary agent. This is the working professional that already has their foot in the door of the publishing world and can get your manuscript into the right hands.
So… how does one acquire a literary agent? The first step is to write a query letter – a concise one-page submission that tells an agent who you are and why your book is awesome. It’s your opportunity to convince them that your project is worthy of their time and efforts. When a literary agent chooses to work with you, they’ll essentially do all the heavy lifting when it comes to getting your work into the hands of the right publishing house.
Once a formal publishing establishment does become interested in pursuing your manuscript, they will negotiate the purchase of its publishing, sales, and distribution rights with your literary agent. To secure the rights to your book, they will provide you, the author, with an advance – an upfront payment made before the actual publication and selling of your book. Once the financial terms have been agreed upon, your work then goes into the hands of publishing professionals that take care of everything from editing and book design to sales and marketing.
· Receiving an advance for your work
· Prestige and publicity come with being associated with an established company
· Increased access to press and media avenues
· Your book is accessible from physical bookstores and retailers.
· A better chance of becoming a bestseller
· Access to publishing professionals who are at the top of their industry
· The potential to sell more books on a wider scale
· Little, if any, creative control once your book is purchased by the publisher
· Delayed publication. Expect to wait at least a year before your work is published.
· Low royalties, typically between 8% and 20%.
· High levels of gatekeeping. It’s very difficult and competitive getting in with a reputable
agent and publisher.
While it can be difficult to get your foot in the door with a traditional publishing agency, it’s also the best course of action if you have ambitions to be a highly visible author. It’s up to you to decide if the time required to break into the industry is worth the potential payoff at the end.
What’s The Best Choice?
The publishing option that is best for you will largely be determined by your end goal. If you’re looking to maintain creative autonomy and are confident in your ability to hire the right team for the job, then self or hybrid publishing may be the way forward. On the other hand, if reaching a broad audience with less hands-on involvement is more your speed, then traditional publishing may be the best course of action.
No matter what you decide, ensure that you’re making an informed decision that best supports your aspirations and literary goals in the long term. Still wondering how to best publish your book? Need help with your query letter? We work with authors at all phases of the writing and publishing process, and we are happy to help you decide on the best path to get your book out to readers. I’d love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org today!