What is General Contractor Publishing?

Not that long ago, there was only one way to get published: find an agent, hope he or she would represent you, trust the publisher that buys your book to believe in the project, and hope that readers would go out and buy your book.

Now, self-publishing is a viable option for authors with a variety of different budgets, time, and publishing goals. For those who want control but don’t want to coordinate the various tasks, there is supported self-publishing. For those who want complete control of everything from editing to distribution, there is general contractor or independent publishing. 

What ‘general contractor publishing’ means

The General Contractor publishing path requires you—or you can hire someone else—to coordinate the hiring of a number of independent service providers such as an editor, book designer, publicist, etc. It’s up to you to find these vendors, shop around to determine the best one for each task, and maintain your budget.

Publishing services can include:

- Editing

- Interior design

- Cover design

- Illustrations

- Copyright or protection

- E-book formatting

- Distribution for print or digital formats


- Events coordination

- Website creation

- Video trailer creation

- Social media

- Publicity

As the general contractor, you will be in control of choosing which services you want or need. Then, you will have to find and coordinate each individual vendor in order to reach your desired publishing goals. The financial investment of this path will depend on the vendors you choose, but because they are all independent of each other, the cost will easily stack up as you hire more—and more experienced—vendors.


The biggest advantage of this publishing path is that you have complete control over the tasks you want completed and who you hire to complete them. This ensures that you’re getting the editors, designers, and creators that you feel are the best fit to make your book what you want it to be. Although coordinating all these vendors can take a lot of time and effort, you will be comfortable knowing that they are doing the best possible work for you at the most reasonable price.

If coordinating all of these people feels like too much work for you, you can also hire someone to be the general contractor for your book. Maybe you have someone you know and trust that is good at managing people and budgets. Or you can hire someone, often called a ‘publishing consultant’, to help you through. These self-proclaimed consultants usually have some publishing experience but don’t typically offer any services themselves. While this may make the process easier and less time-consuming for you, hiring a consultant would require you to pay him or her on top of all the other vendors you choose to work with.


The biggest disadvantage to this publishing path is that depending on the scope of the project and which vendors you choose, it may require the largest financial investment and can take the most amount of time to manage. The work of shopping for vendors, obtaining separate quotes for the work, and then coordinating all these people and activities is not an easy load to take on. If you’re wanting to publish your book quickly and at a reasonable price—this is likely not the right path for you.

Not to mention, the general contractor path requires a lot of knowledge and understanding of what it takes to publish a book. You must know which services you want, how much they should realistically cost, and what it takes to publish and sell a book. Without this understanding, you’re more likely to waste time and money figuring it out and making mistakes before you succeed.


Although the general contractor path requires a lot of work, it gives you total control and can be a great option for those of you who are willing and eager to invest your time and money into publishing and marketing your book exactly as you dreamed it.

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