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How to choose the right publishing method

You’ve written a draft, reworked it, written some more, shown it to your friends, gone back and made more changes, and finally reached a final version that you like. Now that you’re done celebrating, you’re probably considering your publishing options. You may have even done some quick Google searches and perused some websites. At this point, you likely have seen the terms traditional publishing, hybrid publishing, and self-publishing come up a few times. But what do they mean and what will they each offer you?

We’ve included our handy chart for a quick visual summary, but if you’d like a more detailed explanation, keep on reading.

Comparing publishing methods

Traditional publishing

The only publishing model until very recently, traditional publishing covers the costs of publication up front (even paying writers a royalty advance depending on the publisher). Royalty rates with traditional publishers are low, it is very difficult to make it past the admissions editors, and the turnaround time is long (often taking one to two years for a book to see print). In exchange, writers get the cachet of having a publisher’s name on their book, the ease of someone else walking their book project through each publishing stage, the marketing support of the publisher, and the thrill of seeing their book in a brick-and-mortar bookstore.

The traditional publishing writer: You’re patient, less controlling of your creative vision, and want the cachet of working with a traditional publisher.

Hybrid publishing

This is a fairly recent model. Hybrid publishing tends to be more of a collaboration between writer and publisher. Publishers only take on books that they can break even on, usually by charging the writer the up-front costs. They also rarely provide marketing support, and their books usually aren’t distributed in traditional, brick-and-mortar bookstores. In exchange, writers get a much larger royalty rate, a much easier time getting past the admissions editor, the same project management that they’d have with a traditional publisher, the cache of a publisher’s name on their book, and a shorter turnaround time (six months tends to be the longest timeframe).

The hybrid publishing writer: You’re ready for a quick turnaround, want a creative collaboration, but still want the backing of a professional publisher.

Publishing consultants

In the PubLaunch Marketplace, you’ll find our list of publishing consultants (sometimes known as “book doctors”) with hybrid publishers. Like hybrid publishers, publishing consultants offer full-service packages to self-publishers. They can organize a full team of marketers, editors, and designers, tailor the team to your needs, and manage the project for you. However, unlike hybrid publishers, your book is still technically being self-published. This means that when it comes time to distribute your book, it will be listed under your name and you will need to do the work of submitting it to a distributor (although most publishing consultants can guide you through this process).

Self-publishing

This model is for the writer who wants full control over their book project. With self-publishing, the writer gets to make all the decisions, from how extensive the editing will be to whether or not they want a project manager for their book project. A self-publisher has complete freedom and gets the highest royalty rate possible. Apart from the bookstore’s fee, the rest of the money belongs to the writer. However, with great freedom comes great responsibility. It can be a lot more work to manage a self-published book project, especially if you want it to reach the same quality as it would at a publishing house. If you’re the kind of writer who wants the cachet and expertise of a publisher, you may want to skip self-publishing.

The self-publishing writer: You want full control of your book project and don’t necessarily want the full publishing treatment.

Up next, what to expect during publishing and people you’ll be working with.