Season 1, Episode 3

3 Ways to Publish Your Book in 2021

Notes from this episode:

In this episode, I decipher the myths around publishing paths and help answer some common questions around how to publish your book in 2021.
Find out:

  • What is meant by traditional book publishing
  • What are the types of book publishing
  • What is the right publishing path for you

Info on advances and royalties: &
Self-publishing resources:
Reputable Hybrid Publishers: She Writes PressPage TwoBenBella, Greenleaf Book Group 
If you’re enjoying the podcast be sure to subscribe & consider leaving a rating and short review on Apple Podcasts.

Vanessa Soto: Hey, everyone. So I’ve noticed a few sort of similar but different questions coming through lately in folks that I’ve been talking to. And they all are related to choosing the right publishing path. So I thought it was time that we that we dig into publishing paths and, and how to think about them how to identify what might be the right one for you. And, you know, and really help you get down the right the right path for you. So some of the questions that I’ve heard, like I said, they all kind of tie back to the same theme, even though they sound a little different, or things like, what are the types of book publishing? So people just wondering like, there’s more than one way to publish a book, what are they? Another one I get a lot is just, what does traditional publishing mean? So what does that phrase traditional publishing? What does that mean? And then another one is, should I Self Publish? So trying to figure out if they should do that traditional publishing route? Or should they Self Publish? So to kind of at the highest level, there are basically three types of publishing these days, and I’m recording this in January of 2021. So over the last, you know, few few years, last five years or so, you know, this has pretty much been the three. The three types, though, it’s always evolving. So talk about talk about each of them.
The first one is traditional publishing. The second one we’ll talk about is self publishing. And the third one we’ll talk about is the newest form, which is hybrid publishing. So to get started with traditional publishing, this is, this is the kind of publishing that you’re probably thinking about when you think about the publishing industry. So it’s, it’s when you know, you, you have an agent, and you have an editor, and your book is being distributed by a publishing company. It’s available in bookstores, that kind of thing. So what traditional publishing refers to are the, the large publishing companies, some, some are very large, some are actually, you know, more independent and smaller, but they’re, you know, decent sized businesses. And there are five, soon to be four, because when it’s being bought, there are four to five publishing companies that are literally called the Big Five. And these are probably familiar names to you, Penguin, Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon and Schuster, and Simon and Schuster is the one that is being bought by Penguin, Random House, and Penguin Random House used to be both Penguin, separate companies, penguin and Random House. So there’s been a lot of consolidation over the last probably 20 ish years in the publishing industry. And that continues to be the case, the last time I checked, there was something like 280 smaller publishers, inside of those five giant publishing houses. So. So that’s generally what traditional publishing means. And having your book published by one of these companies, is also, you know, probably somewhat generally what many Aspire, many writers aspire to, because these are the established names, these are the leaders in the publishing industry, and there’s some cachet that goes along with that. That being said, while being published by the Big Five might be fantastic for, for some, and you know, and, and it might be something that many writers covet, it’s by far, not the only way to publish your book, and it and it truly might not be the right one for you based on your goals with your book. And, you know, and how you want to show up in the world with it, and who your readers are. So, a little more about traditional publishing. So, along with the name a traditional is a traditional process. So this is where you need to have representation by a literary agent. And that literary agent has to offer you representation. So this is part of the pitching process where you pitch agents and make them aware of you and hopefully one of them will pick you. In turn those agents take a commission so they take about 15% of your of your of your, of your fees of your advance and, and royalties down the line. You know, with that, you’re getting an enormous amount of value and an expertise. So by no means am I saying there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s something to be aware of that there is, you know, a part of your fee will be going to your agent. With traditional publishing, the publishing company will produce and distribute your book, you will largely be responsible for marketing it, as we’ve talked about on other episodes. Let’s see, you will also get an advance so that is specific traditional to traditional, you get a paid a certain amount of money based on how you know how, how large your potential audiences how big your existing platform is, how much the publishing company feels passionately about your idea. And so you get this, this advance at the very beginning. And when you’re first going to write your book. And then over time, a, once you’ve sold enough books to earn back your advance, you could receive royalties on future books that you sell. So that’s, that’s a very whole complex type of math that I probably don’t really want to get into. But there are some fantastic blog posts on that topic of both advances and royalties. I like there’s a few posts, I like from the literary agency, the binary, and I’ll include some links to those in the show notes, because it’s all based on how much is the book being sold for the marketplace, and you get a certain percentage of that, and yada, yada, yada.
So I’ll include some more info on, on advances and royalties in the shownotes. So basically, that’s traditional publishing, it’s this kind of, you know, that the traditional way of doing things, it may end up being the right path for you, it might be important to you for a number of reasons. Some of those might be making sure that your book is just distributed in the most traditional way. So available in in your local neighborhood bookstore available in Barnes and Noble, so available in all these physical locations. traditionally published books are the books that you see on the bestseller list, the books that you generally see written up in reviews. So those kinds of those kinds of things are all interconnected with traditional publishing. So shifting gears a little bit, let’s talk about self publishing.
So self publishing is kind of the opposite of traditional, and it’s really publishing a book independently without a publisher. So it’s been growing in popularity, I think probably Amazon is the primary reason that we’ve seen so much growth in self publishing. Because it’s just made it so easy for people to, you know, get their own book out there. But we’re talking about getting your own book out there on Amazon, specifically, online distribution, maybe via your website, or other types of online distribution. So a self published book is not going to be distributed into your local bookstore, Barnes and Noble like I was, like, like with traditional publishing. One thing though, about self publishing, as you might be imagining here, that it means you’re doing all the work yourself, you’re writing this book, you’re designing it, you’re promoting it, putting it up on Amazon, but the reality is, there’s a giant industry that’s grown around self publishing. And you can, in fact, hire an entire team to do all those things for you. And you just write the book and you can hire specialists to, you know, help you get publicity specialists to help you design and layout your book specialists who will help you get it positioned on Amazon. I’m not an expert in this field, but I do know that there are just many, many folks who are experts in self publishing. So So uh, some of the reasons that people would would Self Publish instead of go down the traditional publishing route would be because maybe you have a built in audience who is like, ready and waiting to buy your book. And there’s not anything added by going Through a publisher, you can just produce your book and sell it through your list and your website and people will be will be excited to buy it. There’s many, many very successful think particularly well, fiction and nonfiction authors who who have entire cottage industries around self published books and series and things like that. So it really depends on what you’re looking for. With self publishing, you’re putting your own money into the endeavor, so you’re gonna pay for that editor, those designers and that kind of thing, but every penny that you earn and selling, your book will be yours. So you don’t have that situation with traditional publishing, where you might get a small advance and only after you’ve earned back that advancement, you ever see any anything else for it. So it’s all yours, both the risk and the reward is all yours. But again, you’re not going to be looking at things like bookstore distribution, or bestseller list placement, things like that. If you think self publishing, might be right for you, there’s a gajillion pages on Google, if you search, but I do like one particular blog from Reedsy. And it includes kind of their top self publishing resources for right now. So I’ll link up to that in the show notes for you. And you know, you can explore on your own and see if this might be the path for you.
And then last, but not least, there’s this the newest, but very quickly growing type of publishing, called hybrid publishing. And, as it sounds, hybrid publishing is, is a blend, it’s a blend of traditional and self publishing. So with a reputable hybrid publisher, and we’ll get back to that word reputable, it’s really important. But with hybrid hybrid publisher, you get the benefit of experts who do things like edit, and produce and distribute your book, while at the same time putting up some of your own money as an investment to the company who will do this for you. So it’s different than self publishing, because the best hybrid publishers are getting new distributions, you can be in that local bookstore, they also have the ability to get you on to bestseller lists and things like that, because one of the key things with a hybrid publisher is they need to be selective. So they’re not just going to publish anything. So there might be some self publishing companies you could work from work with, who will take any book and you know, help you put it together. But a hybrid publisher is is picking and choosing the books that they’re going to produce. And they’re kind of developing a list of books, and they have, you know, a particular brand and a particular ethos that they want to put out there, similar to a traditional publisher. So with hybrid, you’re going to be investing some of your own money upfront. And then the publisher will also be investing some of theirs with the the some of the resources and the distribution. And every single company because this is such a new industry, they do things very differently. So what you want to do is, is really start researching and investigating that the hybrid publisher, if it feels like it might be something for you and want to make sure that they are reputable, that they are not just calling themselves hybrid, to sound fashionable, but they’re instead like a vanity press in disguise. So you have to be really careful. But it can be a great option. If you are if it’s important to you to gain distribution, if it’s important to you to potentially be reviewed or to show up on on bestseller lists, and you’re willing to invest some of your own money upfront. That investment varies widely. I’ve heard through the grapevine from between like five and $20,000. So 5000 to $20,000, potentially, as an investment. So again, that could be you know, that could be something that makes it you know, doable for you or not, but definitely something to explore. And it fits nicely between hybrid fits nicely between traditional and and self publishing. There are a few that I’m familiar with and like include them in the shownotes. I’ll mention there’s the names, she writes. And there’s also Greenleaf Book Group, page two, and benbella. So those are the four that I’m currently aware of. And I’ve been hearing good things about. And, you know, maybe you could start by checking those out. So, so really look out make sure these are reputable companies, some of the things to look for are like, do they have membership in reputable industry trade groups? Who are the founders, you know, what kind of background are these people have? Do they have traditional publishing background that makes perfect sense that they’d now be running a business like this and would have the connections and the and the right expertise. Just pay attention to your gut, if they have a weird website, something just feels fishy about it. That’s a red flag. And the biggest red flag would be if there’s any sort of fee involved with submitting your proposal or manuscript. So no reputable firm is going to charge you a fee to look at your initial materials. So if you’re seeing a fee attached to reviewing a manuscript or a proposal, I would say, run, don’t walk away from that one. and head over to the ones that I’m suggesting and get started with those guys. If hybrid sounds like something that might be for you. So hopefully, this has helped demystify the publishing industry a little bit, I know, it’s complicated, and it’s hard to know, which of these paths you know might be right for you. Again, maybe one of them really jumped out to you and feels really right. But you know, it’s it’s one of those things very, very personal decision, and very specific to the individual, I have put together a little kind of quiz that can help you get a maybe a better idea of which of these paths might be right for you. And I’ll include that on this episode page. So if you if you want to take the free publishing path quiz, head on over to she has a book and forward slash publishing paths. And you can get the quiz there, you can also see an opportunity to book a one on one publishing path consult with me, if you feel like you need just some one on one time to bat back and forth the options and to really dig into maybe two that you’re, you’re kind of struggling to make a decision on, you know, I’d be happy to talk with you. And you can, you can book a consult at that same page at she has a book and forward slash publishing paths. So, hopefully, again, this has been helpful has given you a better idea of the publishing industry right now and what path might be best for you.

Subscribe where you listen: