Today, you have a choice about how to publish. You can become an “indie” author and self-publish, effectively starting your own publishing company. You also can seek a traditional publisher as your venture capital, or business, partner. Or, you can be a hybrid author, who both self-publishes and traditionally publishes. Not only that, you can find an agent who helps authors both self-publish and traditionally publish.
So many choices. The key is to discover which publishing path best suits you and your goals.
Traditional publishing might be a good choice for you if:
- You don’t like “project management.”
- You aren’t detail oriented.
- You don’t want to invest you own money or time in your book project.
- You don’t have the time, energy or interest to learn how to self-publish or to manage a self-publishing project or company.
- You aren’t business minded.
- You want your book distributed in physical book stores.
- Do seek credibility or authority in your field.
- How much you earn from your books is less important to you.
- You don’t care about having control over the details of your book projects.
Self-publishing might be a good choice for you if:
- You like “project management.”
- You are detail oriented.
- You want to invest you own money and time in your book project.
- You have the time, energy and interest to learn how to self-publish and to manage a self-publishing project or company.
- You are entrepreneurial and business minded.
- You don’t care if your book is distributed in physical book stores.
- Do don’t seek credibility or authority in your field.
- How much you earn from your books is important to you.
- You want control over the details of your book projects.
- You are in a hurry to publish.
Hybrid publishing might be a good choice for you if:
- You want the benefits of both self-publishing and traditional publishing.
- You don’t want to handle all the aspects of self-publishing on your own.
- You are willing to give up a bit of the indie income to have a business partner help you with your self-publishing efforts.
My Publishing Path
I’ve always been what I call a “traditional publishing hold out.” However, I’ve self-published books for a variety of reasons. Early in my career I did so to help build author platform. I produced them to help me get speaking engagements. I felt it would be easier to do so if I could say I was a published author—even if the books were short (and they were). I would sell them at the back of the room after a speech to cover my expenses, since often I didn’t get paid to speak. Later, I self-published a few more to show that I could do so quickly. I did this as part of a class I teach, called “How to Write a Short Book Fast.”
I went on to traditionally publish two books in two years, How to Blog a Book and The Author Training Manual, both with Writer’s Digest Books. This confirmed to me that I actually like traditionally publishing for a variety of reasons. The four primary reasons are:
- I don’t have to do the work involved in self-publishing a book, which basically involves project management—hiring editors, getting covers designed, writing meta data, uploading to Amazon, buying ISBNs, etc.
- My book gets more widely distributed.
- As a nonfiction author, the backing of a traditional publisher offers me and my book some extra credibility.
- I don’t have to invest my own money in the project; instead I get paid in advance for writing the book.
This doesn’t mean I don’t like being an indie author. In fact, I do. I enjoy
- the immediacy it offers
- the project control
- the chance for larger royalties
That’s why I made the choice recently to sign with a new agent that offered me the opportunity to pursue a hybrid publishing path. My new agent, Gordon Warnock of Foreword Literary, can assist me with self-published books as well as traditionally published books. We’ve created a plan for both that involves writing traditional books each year interspersed with self-published ebooks. This is meant to:
- build my author brand
- increase my credibility and platform in specific subject areas
- move me closer to traditionally publishing one or two signature books
And that brings me to your prompt for today.
Nonfiction Writing Prompt #19: Decide How to Publish
To complete this prompt, evaluate which publishing route best fits your needs and personality, as well as your publishing goals. Then, very simply, decide to pursue that publishing path.
There is no right or wrong, good or bad, path. It doesn’t matter if many writers today think legacy publishers are “bad.” (They aren’t.) It doesn’t matter if you hear stories of tons of indie authors making big bucks on Amazon (in fact, about two in a million do so). It doesn’t matter if matter if your colleagues all believe the only credible way to publish is traditionally. (It isn’t.) And it doesn’t matter if some people tell you agents who offer to help with self-publishing are bad. (They aren’t.) There’s something benefit in each choice.
And it’s your choice to make. You must determine what is best for you. That’s the point of this prompt. You can’t do a good job of creating a career plan for yourself or a business plan for your book if you aren’t sure how you will publish your work. So, decide.
How do you plan to publish, and how will this decision help you accomplish your goals?
For more information on how to create nonfiction book ideas that are marketable and that support your writing goals, join the NFWU. When you do, you’ll receive this month’s Nonfiction Writers’ University (NFWU) homework assignment, which contains more exercises and information on this topic. Plus, you’ll have access to the growing archive of past homework assignments and NFWU teleseminars as well as some introductory gifts worth more than the membership! Join here at the low introductory rate!
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