Publishing Choices

There are three general choices for getting your book published:

  • Traditional Publishing
  • Vanity Publishing
  • Self-Publishing

Due to space restrictions, the following barely scratches the surface of this subject (after all, there are whole books on the subject, such as Dan Poynter’s excellent self-publishing manual which goes into much greater detail).

Traditional Publishing

This means finding a publisher willing to gamble that your book has enough commercial or literary value to justify their investment of good money in your creation. The publisher usually takes over control of all rights to the work. The process is usually slow (unless you are a celeb currently in the news). There may or may not be an advance on royalties (depending on the resources of the publisher). When royalties are paid (usually twice a year), generally half the royalties are withheld in case some books are returned by the booksellers. It often requires being accepted by an agent, who will want between 10 and 20% of the paid out royalties as a commission to place your book and to meter out any and all monies to you after they have extracted their commission.

Vanity Publishing

Usually provided by printing companies who represent themselves as publishers. The author pays all the costs, which are generally exorbitant. This a good approach for folks who want to leave a legacy for their family and friends. It will not produce best sellers and bookstores will normally not care to sell their products. The author generally keeps rights, although I’m aware of one company that ties the rights up for seven years.


This approach is not necessarily vanity publishing. The author has total control and all rights. It covers a wide variety of possibilities. They range from creating your own publishing company to handle your works to using established publishers who provide any and all publishing/marketing services, which the author pays for, and their distributing connections. One thing to be careful is their establishing very high retail prices, which will guarantee the booksellers won’t touch it.

With all these approaches, the author must get involved in the marketing effort. All approaches can include both books on paper and digitized versions (another subject in itself). Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. There are many sharks out there, so one has to be careful. In addition, all approaches requires the author to insure the manuscript is as well-prepared as possible. I highly encourage hiring professionals to help with this. Although I am a professional editor, many people get involved in my process. I use at least one and sometimes more than one editor who does that for at least part of their living. Another blog thread will cover the types and levels of editing and the people who provide them.

This is a cross-posting from the Book Trends Blog.