Choosing Your Publishing Path

Are you considering publishing options for your book and don’t know where to start? Here’s an overview of common book publishing models and what you can typically expect from each.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishers primarily work with authors and celebrities who have a large fan base and mainstream appeal. These publishers take on the financial risk of your book, providing an advance on royalties (percentage of book sales paid to the author). They manage book marketing and distribution. The publishing process is lengthy and can take years. The publisher controls the title and cover art and retains the rights to your book for a number of years. Traditional publishers include the “Big Five” (soon to be the “Big Four”)—Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon and Schuster, and Macmillan—as well as smaller companies that use the same type of author advance model. Many traditional publishers have multiple imprints, or specialized brands, which are targeted at different audiences. To work with a traditional publisher, you’ll likely need an agent, though investing in one is not a guarantee you’ll secure a publishing contract.

Indie Publishing

Indie publishers tend to specialize in niche book projects and invest in authors who appeal to their target market (e.g., Latinx novels, women’s fiction, poetry). They take on some of the financial risk of your book but don’t typically pay authors an advance. Most often, authors are paid royalties based on book sales. Small publishers provide book marketing expertise and some promotion and collaborate with the author to help raise awareness and drive sales. Small publishers rely heavily on distribution through Amazon and often use Amazon-generated publishing identifiers, so titles aren’t always available at bookstores. The publishing process can take several months to a year. Authors working with small publishers are frequently involved in parts of the process like selecting the book title and cover design. An agent is not needed to work with a small publisher—authors usually represent themselves. Book rights vary by publisher.

Self-Publishing

Print-on-demand platforms have made self-publishing attainable for many authors. Self-published authors typically retain 100 percent of book royalties and rights. The publishing process can be a more affordable one for authors willing to do the majority of the work themselves, including marketing and sales. Many bookstores won’t accept self-published titles, often because the editing and design don’t meet industry standards. In many ways, do-it-yourself publishing is like DIY home improvement. While both authors and homeowners could do the work themselves, there are parts of the process that benefit from the support of a seasoned professional. There are many companies and consultants that help authors through the self-publishing process. If you’re going to choose just one, make it a developmental editor. It’s the home improvement equivalent of hiring a structural engineer to weigh in on a new addition.

Hybrid Publishing

Publish Her is a hybrid publisher, which combines aspects of traditional publishing with some of the benefits of self-publishing. The author makes an investment in publishing services and works with experts in editing and design to ensure their book meets industry standards. The book is published with the publisher’s imprint, and most hybrids provide some promotion for the book. Hybrid publishing can be a more attainable option for many authors; however, the process varies greatly from publisher to publisher. For example, most hybrid publishers offer authors a higher percentage of royalties than traditional publishers. But Publish Her believes authors, not publishers, should profit most from book sales, so we don’t retain any of the author’s revenue. Many publishers ask for rights to your book for the duration of your contract. Publish Her believes authors should maintain 100 percent ownership of their work always, which means we don’t request legal rights.

Publish Her offers several other advantages that are important to note as you explore your publishing options. To learn more, read Ready to Publish Your Book? Key Questions to Ask a Potential Publisher.

To learn more about potentially publishing your book with Publish Her, complete our Author Questionnaire and upload your manuscript.

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