Fifteen years ago, the only way to publish a book was through a literary agent and a traditional publishing house. It was a highly competitive market, saturated with thousands of query letters and writers hoping their manuscripts would stand out from the crowd.
Since then, multiple new opportunities have risen for authors to get their books published thanks to the rise in self-publishing. Once considered inferior in the publishing industry for delivering half-baked books, self-publishing has stepped up its game to prove that anyone with a great idea can become an author.
It’s important to remember that publishing is not a one-size-fits-all approach. While you may know many self-published authors, or think only traditionally published authors can be successful, the truth is that different publishing methods work best for different authors, books, budgets, and goals. The only way to publish a book correctly is to do the necessary research and make the best choice for YOU.
Thankfully, with so many options available, it’s relatively easy to learn about and discover the type of publishing that’s best for you and your book. Here are the four ways you can publish your book in 2021.
Many first-time authors who are looking to publish a book think traditional publishing with a well-known publishing house is the only way to become a successful author. Others think the barrier to entry with this publishing option is too difficult. Therefore, they have no chance of making it through.
Neither of these assumptions are 100% correct.
Traditional publishing can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a viable option. Many authors find success through this method; it can just require a lot of time and effort to find the right agent or publishing house who is willing to take a chance on you and your book.
The “typical” method of traditional publishing is to send a query letter or finished manuscript to literary agents or publishing houses to propose your idea for publication. If they select your book, you’ll receive an upfront advance for the rights to your work, enter into a contract with the publishing house, and they will take care of editing, designing, and distributing your book.
One of main perks of traditional publishing is that most everything is taken care of by the publishing house: publishing and printing costs, copyright and legal services, and some book marketing. You will have some involvement, such as re-writes and interviews or signings.
The biggest drawback to this method that makes some authors prefer not to publish traditionally is that the publisher is assigned the rights to your book, meaning you will lose some of the ownership to your work. If you want full control over edits, the cover, distribution, and marketing, traditional publishing is probably not the right choice for you.
However, this is the only publishing method that will give you money upfront for the rights to your work. If you don’t have the money to print and distribute your book on your own, traditional publishing could be your best bet. Do keep in mind, though, that when it comes to your book’s sales, traditional publishing companies will take a percentage of your generated revenue. The amount will depend on each individual publishing house and its policies.
Just like it sounds, DIY publishing is a form of self-publishing that gives the author complete control of the publishing process.
In this method of publishing, you’ll be the one to do and coordinate everything: formatting of your book, designing a book cover, finding a business to print your book (unless you choose to go the eBook route), and implementing a marketing strategy to promote your book.
While this can sound overwhelming for some writers, others love being a part of every piece of the publishing process. The best part about publishing a book yourself is that you own everything from the legal rights to the revenue you earn. You make every decision and you are a part of every conversation. You are the one pouring over edits and coordinating book signings. It’s all up to you.
The biggest struggle authors face when publishing a book with this method is the time and cost it takes. If you’re going into this with little knowledge of the publishing process, doing everything yourself will be very difficult. You’ll need to know where your skills lie, how to deal with vendors, and know how to stick within a budget.
Remember, publishing a book is never free, especially with DIY. You’ll have to consider the cost of everything from book printing to obtaining an ISBN numbers to copyrighting your work. If you plan to go the DIY route, make sure you have a financial strategy prepared.
Similar to DIY, general contractor publishing is a form a self-publishing where YOU have the control. The difference with this method is that instead of doing everything yourself, you hire independent contractors who can provide the services you need (and want) for your book.
This is a great option if you want control, but are not totally knowledgeable about every aspect of the publishing process.
In this case, you’ll hire an editor to improve your writing and a graphic designer to create a book cover and interior rather than doing it yourself. Remember, the number of contractors you work with will determine how expensive the initial costs will be before you publish your book.
General contractor publishing gives you the opportunity to choose the parts of book publishing you want to personally handle and which parts you’ll want a third party professional to handle. Here’s a basic overview of the services you could hire a general contractor to help you coordinate:
If you’re considering self-publishing, one helpful thing to do is to separate these publishing tasks into three categories: what you can do, what you could learn how to do, and what you definitely can’t do.
Everything you know you won’t be able to do, you can outsource to one or more independent contractors. Take the time to research tasks you think you could learn how to do on your own. It might take some time, but in the long run, it could be worth it.
Supported self-publishing takes the idea of a general contractor to the next level, with a little less of the stress.
Instead of picking and choosing the tasks you want to outsource to professionals, supported self-publishing companies bundle tasks and services into various packages that you can choose from. The types of services you want will determine how expensive each package will be.
For example, a publishing package to edit and print copies of your book may not be as expensive as a package that includes additional marketing, sales, and design services. It all depends on what you want and what is most important to you.
The biggest benefit of supported self-publishing is that you’re given several publishing options to choose from while still retaining ownership of your book. Not only do you have control, but you’re able to utilize professionals who have already been vetted for you.
Another benefit is that there’s much less of a chance for you to go over your budget. Because you are choosing a package, you will know upfront how much the services will cost.
Your biggest decision with this publishing route will be choosing the best self-publishing company for you. They all likely offer different types of packages at different price points and some may allow for more customization than others.
Take care in choosing a publishing services company that is well-networked, offers the services you need to reach your goals, and ultimately makes the most sense for you.
Publishing a book is a big deal for those who have always dreamed of writing a book. You don’t want to jump into it without taking care to ensure you’re making the best decisions and having the best experience from beginning to end.
Take some time to think about what you want out of the process. What are your goals for your book? How much time and money do you have to invest in this dream? How much control do you want to have over the process?
Once you take some time to think about your own goals, one of these publishing options will likely stand out as the best choice for you.
What type to publishing path are you going to take this year? Let us know in the comments!
Hey, I see that you've published a poetry book and I would like to know if you could share some helpful tips with me. I've written quite a few poems. Now I'll like to compile them all into a book and publish.
very informative, I now know what to focus on
I have already self published through my own printing company, and published through Do It Yourself, where I had control of layout, cover design and book title. After this quarter I will decide how to publish my next poetry book. Your web presentations have been most helpful.
I will choose the DIY publishing method because it will be suitable for me to have. Being an author of a blog, I think I am already in the DIY self-publishing service. I have recently presented information about the HD mirror cam reviews.
Xlibris Australia wants me to write about 6 more books. I am writing the book, Euthanasia Rebutted. It is mentioned on the Internet. I have typed 80,000 words and written a lot more. It all needs revision and updating before it can be finished. I have also written done drafts for my book, Australian Stories. What I need to write first, though, is The Military Koran. I already have some articles written, but I need to finish off what I am doing before I can attack that topic. I can do that because the Koran is a metaphysical book and my expertese apart from my university qualifications is the quasi-science of metaphysics.
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