Which Publication Path is Right For You?

Wednesday, November 04, 2015
In today's publishing world, you have several choices when pursuing publication of a book-length work. You can try to secure an agent, send directly to a small or mid-size press, create your own publishing company, pay a company to publish your book and more. With all of these choices available, how do you decide which publication path you should take for your manuscript?

Besides being educated about the different publishing models, you really have to start with asking yourself some questions--and honestly answering them.  These are questions about your work and about your audience and career goals. If you have a finished manuscript or almost completed one, or you are in the midst of NaNoWriMO, take some time to answer the following to see what publication model will most likely work best:

  • Who is the audience for your book?
  • How do these people generally get their books? (Amazon? Bookstore? Ebooks? Walmart?)
  • What is your budget for publishing your book?
  • What is your budget for marketing?
  • If you decide to self-publish, what skills (graphic design, ebook formatting, etc) do you possess to save money?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Is this a book series or a stand-alone book? Do you have other book ideas?
  • Should you do ebooks? Print books? Both? 
Here's an example. I taught a class on publishing models in a community education program last week. One of the women wants to publish a workbook to go along with her motivational workshops on overcoming grief. She speaks to several different audiences; and many times when the workshop is over, she has received requests for a workbook to further the participants' progress. If she has any budget for publishing, my suggestion to her was finding the most inexpensive, but professional, way to publish her own workbook.

Her career is not really "writer"--her career is speaker and workshop leader. She also has a built-in audience for her book, but I'm not sure it's national enough that a publishing company would pick her up. And she wants control--she wants to control the material and help her workshop participants through their journey. So self-publishing is the way to go for her idea.

But in the same class, a man who has won some awards and had great feedback on a literary historical fiction novel for adults, should not self-publish. He wants to make a career out of writing. He already has written two manuscripts. He is writing fiction for the literary market. Often these readers buy their books at a bookstore or get them from the library. His best bet is to pursue traditional publishing by either getting an agent or submitting to university and regional presses.

No one can really know what to do for your project, but you. It's worth taking some time away from the Internet, where everyone has an opinion on what you should do, and asking yourself the above questions to choose what is actually right for you.

Margo L. Dill teaches writing classes for WOW! Women On Writing. Find out more about her and her books at http://www.margodill.com .

photo above by purpleslog at Flickr.com


Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--These days, does anyone still look down their nose at anything other than traditional publishing?

There are so many possibilities in 2015. So many options. It sounds like you gave them great advice.

(And as far as writing, what are YOU working on these days? ;)

Margo Dill said...

I am working on blog posts for WOW! :) LOL
Seriously, I have a picture book manuscript I keep revising and a middle-grade mystery novel that needs the first 10 pages redone. And then I really need to follow my own advice (WHAT??!!??) and get this out into the world.

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