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How to Pick the Right Publishing Route For Your Book

To choose the right publishing route for you, consider your goals, resources, and priorities. Think about your desired level of creative control, the amount of time you have to dedicate to the publishing process, your budget, and your overall goals for your book. Research each option carefully, and consider speaking to professionals in the industry to get a better understanding of each route's benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, the publishing route that's right for you is the one that aligns with your goals, resources, and priorities.

woman on floor with a spread of books

Traditional Publishing (Big Name Publishers)

Traditional publishing has several advantages for authors. They have the expertise and resources to guide the author through the publishing process, including editing, design, and distribution, which can result in a high-quality finished product. Traditional publishers can offer significant marketing and promotional support, which can increase the visibility and sales of the book. They also can provide access to industry connections and networks, such as literary agents, reviewers, and bookstores, which can help to build the author's reputation and audience. Finally, traditional publishing can lend credibility to the author, as it is a selective and competitive industry, and being published by a reputable publisher can signify a stamp of approval for readers and industry professionals alike.

While traditional publishing has its benefits, it also has some disadvantages that authors should consider. Firstly, traditional publishing can be a highly competitive and selective industry, and getting accepted by a publisher can be challenging, especially for new or unknown authors. It can be very difficult to break into and get your book seen without an agent to represent you. The process can be very slow, as it involves multiple rounds of editing and design, and publishers may have a backlog of manuscripts to review. It is also common for traditional publishers to have strict requirements and guidelines for authors, such as word count, genre, or target audience, which can limit the author's creative control and flexibility. Finally, traditional publishing can offer lower royalty rates than self-publishing, as the publisher takes a significant percentage of the book's earnings to cover their costs and profits.


Self-publishing has become an increasingly popular option for authors, and for good reason. Self-publishing offers complete creative control and flexibility, allowing authors to make decisions about every aspect of their book, from the content to the cover design. The whole publishing process can be faster, as authors can set their own timeline and bypass the lengthy review process of traditional publishers. This route can also offer higher royalty rates, as the author retains all profits from book sales. It also can offer a low-risk option, as there are no upfront costs for printing or distribution, and authors can start with a small print run or eBook version to test the market. Finally, self-publishing can offer a direct connection between the author and their readers, which can lead to a more loyal and engaged audience.

In self-publishing, you retain complete control over the editing, design, printing, distribution, and marketing of your book. You can use online platforms such as Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing or IngramSpark to publish your book in print and digital formats.

Despite its benefits, self-publishing is a commitment that takes a lot of time and faith to pursue. It requires authors to handle all aspects of the publishing process, including editing, design, and distribution, by investing in professional editing, cover design, and marketing services to ensure a high-quality finished product, or doing all that work themselves. Self-published books may have lower visibility and credibility, as they may not have the same industry connections, reviews, or awards as traditionally published books. It can also be a challenging process for authors without a strong marketing or promotional strategy, as there is no guarantee of sales or audience reach.

Fortunately, a lot of these drawbacks are workable. Having a professionally designed book cover adds to the book's credibility and social media has made reaching your audience even easier than ever before.

Indie Publishers

Indie publishers, also known as independent publishers, are small, often niche publishers that offer an alternative to traditional publishing. Indie publishers offer authors complete creative control over their work, allowing them to fully express their artistic vision and voice. They are often more flexible in terms of genre and content, and can offer more customized publishing packages to fit the needs of individual authors. There's a sense of community among indie publishers, their authors, and readers, creating a network of support and collaboration. Often, Indie publishers can be more agile and responsive to changes in the market, allowing them to adapt quickly to trends and new opportunities including diversity, publishing a range of voices and perspectives that may not be represented in mainstream publishing.

Indie publishers typically have fewer resources than traditional publishers, which can make it more difficult to provide the same level of editorial guidance, marketing support, or distribution channels.

The lack of resources can lead to limited reach and distribution channels compared to traditional publishers, which can limit the potential audience and sales of the book. But the resources they offer are far more than going the DIY route, and the sense of community certainly makes up for it.

Choosing a publishing route can be a critical decision for an author.

It can significantly impact the success of their book. As a book cover designer, I have worked with authors and publishers in all three publishing routes. Ultimately, the right publishing option will depend on the author's goals, resources, and preferences. By carefully considering the available options, authors can make an informed decision that best suits their needs and increases the chances of their book's success.


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