Publishing Options for 21st Century Authors

By SP Turgon

Traditional Publishing vs. All the Other Methods of Getting Your Book Out There to Your Future Readers

Easy Comparison Chart for Publishing Options


Many of us dream of being a big author like JK Rowling or Stephen King or Diana Gabaldon, successfully marketed through traditional publishing.

We dream of the big advance, the promotional tour, seeing our book featured in every bookstore window or dominating online sales, and the instant recognition on the street from all our adoring fans who salivate all over us, waiting for our next book.

Despite the fact that the “big 6” of traditional publishing (plus all their >150 imprints) still dominate the printed word, and despite the fact that they may not be any better than us at choosing the best books that cross the acquisition editors’ desks, actually getting picked up by them is as difficult as it ever was.

Although, it gives you clout and prestige for a time.

And they assume all the financial risks in agreeing to publish your book.

You do not risk out-of-pocket expenses for getting your title to print, into distribution, and marketed, and promoted. That’s a huge advantage, especially when you consider the costs of, say, publishing services.

You have little control over many aspects of your book getting onto store shelves. You have to wait for royalty payments. And you have to do quite a bit of heavy lifting on the promotional end.

Fortunately, now there are many other ways to get your creation into consumers’ hands.

Self-publishing gives you the most control over your book


Setting up your own publishing company gives you the most control, including how quickly your book is on the market.

Traditional publishers often buy a year or two in advance of their intended publishing date. That means you have zilch control over when it is published. You lose a lot of other control with traditional publishers, like the title of your book, the book design, and when you’re paid for sales.

If you’re willing to set up your own publishing company, you gain full control of your book. You also take on all the jobs of design, printing, distribution, promotion, and registrations.

It’s a very personal choice, both because of the control factors and because of the expense.

Publishing services cost a pretty penny but you’ll get to market sooner than with traditional publishers

Publishing Services

Today’s publishing world is full of “subsidy presses,” previously referred to as “vanity publishers.”

Each one has their own criteria and services. They can be pricey, but they also do some of the heavy lifting for you.  A lot of the control is in your hands, which means your book can come to market fairly quickly.

Publishing services set their own royalty rates. And their distribution service can be limited but might be what you need to launch your book, especially if you’re willing to continue finding more sales outlets once the publishing service’s are finished.

Marketing and promotion are totally in your hands, so be ready to be your own best protagonist.

eBook publishing is the hottest book trend today


With the huge popularity of eBook publishing, the literary world is jammed with eBooks. But that doesn’t mean yours has to sink under the noise of all the others.

Like with publishing services, publishing your own eBook gives you full control and you’ll see your name in print as soon as you go through the various steps.

Amazon Kindle dominates the eBook world – it’s the first place to put yours. But Kobo, Smashwords, Blurb, BookBaby, iBooks Author, Lulu, NOOK Press, Vook, eBookIt, Scribd, Booktango, Trafford, and iUniverse have all helped authors move into the eBook market.

If you choose this path you’d do well to publish on more than one of these sites.

Needless to say, everything belongs to you, which means every sale comes to your pocket once you give the publisher their due.

Hybrid publishing is just starting to find its place in the book world

Hybrid Publishing

The newest form of publishing that’s only recently entered the arena. There are a number of variations on it, but the simple explanation is that it’s a blend of author risks and publisher risks.

Often, the author will pay some of the production and marketing costs to traditional publishers in exchange for receiving higher royalties. And, you often get the publisher’s distribution and marketing advantages.

Some agents have opened their own publishing houses to bring to the market titles they believe in but cannot sell. Each one has their own parameters. But the beauty of this publishing model is that agents who publish are dedicated to promotion. It can be a win-win for author and agent, even if author has to pay some costs.


Like all big decisions, only you can decide what fits your energy level, budget, time availability, and commitment. But in today’s publishing world, you have a great deal of freedom.


For more great info on book writing and publishing see This Business of Books (2016) by Claudia Suzanne



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