Every aspiring author thinks about publishing his or her book. And with so many options available in this day and age (self-publishing, electronic publishing, traditional publishing, print-on-demand, etc.), if you’re writing a book, then you have a lot to think about!
Many writers think one of the most important decisions they can make is whether to seek a traditional publisher or self-publish. What’s the best choice? It depends. I always tell my clients that what’s best for one book isn’t best for all. All books are different and the best way to make it available to readers depends on the author’s situation and goals.
Benefits of Self-Publishing
Self-publishing is a great way to get your book in the hands of readers. In other words, it’s not just for people writing a family history that won’t have much commercial appeal. Finding an agent, getting a publishing contract, and having your book published by a traditional company take time-often months or even years before the book actually goes to print. One of the main benefits of self-publishing is speed and control of the publication timeline. So if your book needs to be published as soon as possible, self-publishing is definitely the way to go. When you self-publish, you also control the -content and book design. These benefits make self-publishing ideal for those who want to use the book to grow their business, start a business, or establish expertise quickly.
Benefits of Traditional Publishing
Getting a publishing contract can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. So if that’s what you want, go for it. Just be prepared to work hard to get what you want. Many people attach stigma to self-published books, as if they aren’t as valid as a commercially published book. If you’re one of those people, or you don’t have the money to self-publish successfully (hiring editors, proofreaders, cover designers, etc. is not cheap), then traditional publishing is the best option for you. Your publishing company will set you up with an editor to help you write the best book possible, and a team of proofreaders will go through your book before it goes to press. And if you’re an experienced writer with a platform and readership, then you’re in a great position to get a publishing contract.
Does it Really Matter?
Publication means making your book available to readers. And in recent years, “available” has expanded beyond the books you can find on the bookstore shelf. I got a Kindle for my birthday last month, and now that e-books have become part of my every day reading experience, I’ve paid more attention to how they’re making an impact on the book publishing industry. Although it has been around for a few years, many predict this will be a big year for e-readers. As far as publishing goes, electronic devices connected directly to bookstores create a shift that seems to further blur the dividing lines.
How the book is published matters less than the fact that a high quality book is available. For example, I recently read about Anthropology of an American Girl by Hilary Thayer Hamann. The author self-published her novel, found her readership, and then got it traditionally published by a Random House imprint. Was she just lucky? No. She wrote a good book. That’s how you get readers.
What does it take to write a great book? That depends. It’s a combination of a solid idea, good writing, and demand in the marketplace. Getting a publishing contract with a commercial publishing house means you’ll have a team of people working with you to ensure your book is the best it can be. If you decide to self-publish, you are solely responsible for doing whatever it takes to make your book a success, whether that means hiring a ghostwriter, taking a book writing class, working with an editor, or rewriting it twenty times.
No matter how your book is ultimately published, keep in mind that great books add to the conversation and make a contribution to the world of ideas. Great books have a way of finding their readers and being successful. So know what your publishing options are, make a decision based on the pros and cons, and get your best book out there.