Still Only Three Paths to Get Published

It might be easier than ever to publish your own book on Amazon, but that isn’t the only way to see it in print. If you’re thinking about getting your book published, here’s a quick guide to the three paths which will get you there.

In this age of information, it amazes me how easy it is to get an overload of facts without finding the answer to a specific question. And I’m a bit miffed at publishers who try to pass themselves off as a regular press when they’re not.

Before the advent of Amazon and the host of digital publishers who popped into existence once they saw a healthy market for self-published books, there were only two ways to get published: go through an agent and a New York house or pay a vanity press. Now there are three ways, but some of those vanity presses have done a great job passing themselves off as a regular publisher.

The three paths are traditional publishing, vanity publishing and self-publishing. Pre-digital publishing, self-publishing required a vanity press. These days, it doesn’t. Which is great!

Traditional Publishing

At the time I wrote this, there were three big houses in NYC. The reason I quailify this is because when I started writing in pursuit of publishing ten years ago, there were six big houses. They started to fold even before the Internet and Amazon.

A traditional publisher in the big city requires agents to bring manuscripts to their attention. This helps them vet subpar and unmarketable manuscripts.

All of these publishers have smaller, independent presses that do NOT require agents. Many of them also have arms that are involved in vanity publishing.

There are a multitude of independent small presses that also offer traditional contracts and without the need for an agent.

It’s a traditional publisher if they offer a contract with a percent of royalties in exchange for first published rights. They will oversee the editing and production of the book, but most expect authors to participate in the marketing by building an online platform and making appearances. Larger presses will offer an advance against the royalties.

Vanity Publishing

I’m noticing an increase of Facebook ads for this type of publisher. Many of these publishers even SOUND like they are a traditional press. If you go to their website, you’ll see submission guidelines and other things that make you believe they are seeking manuscripts to contract for publishing. Like they are gatekeepers to great books making it to market.

Some of them might refuse you, but most of them will send you a publishing package that YOU PAY FOR. If you have to pay for anything (even if you maintain full rights and get 100 percent of royalties), you’re working with a vanity publisher.

They are self-publishing your book for you. Period.

Most industry professionals will tell you to AVOID this avenue of publishing. I’ve seen many of these presses featured on WRITER BEWARE.

But if you want to get your book out there and have thousands of dollars to invest in it, good luck. They will edit your manuscript and design a cover. Some of them even have marketing packages, but you will pay for every single thing they provide.

Self (of Indie) Publishing

Many in the industry refer to author handled self-publishing as indie publishing. Mostly because those who have made a career here are considered indie authors.

An indie author is an entrepreneur who handles every step of bringing a story from idea to published book. Here are some of the things they’re responsible for:

  • writes a manuscript
  • hires an editor (for at least one editing pass but the real professionals do three just like a traditional press would)
  • hires formatters and designers
  • plans a book release
  • handles all the publicity and marketing (although some hire companies to do this for them)

They keep one hundred percent of the rights and royalties but pay one hundred percent of the costs.

Many of these authors have a Patreon audience or do crowdfunding to get the cash they need to cover these expenses. If you go this route, it’s imperative that you understand the business side of publishing to do this well.

Which publishing path are you seeking? I’ve taken a trip down both of them and would love to share some war stories.

For one-to-one help with your chosen path, connect with me here.

What do you think? Add to the discussion here.