The publishing industry is evolving rapidly. Every available option has its advantages and disadvantages. Informed authors will make better decisions.
Top Traditional Publishers
The leading publishers work best for writers who want an advance, a royalty income, and distribution through bookstores and other sales venues without the hassle of the publication process. A few publishers are inviting un-agented submissions during specified periods. However, agents are usually necessary and not easily obtained.
The publisher controls all major decisions, including editorial. Unless the author is famous, marketing is not extensive. The book may go out of print if it does not sell well in a few months. E-book rights should be negotiated.
Large Independent Traditional Publishers
These publishers are more willing to publish novice authors, may offer an advance, and often require no agent. The large independent publishers may provide a better financial return and allow author input during production. They handle marketing and distribution, books are typically available for longer than three months, and they may negotiate e-book rights with authors.
The downside is that they will own the book rights and only provide basic marketing. They may also be genre-specific or have branch companies (imprints). Such publishers may use print-on-demand digital printing, as well as offset.
Small Publishing Companies
The small publishers/micro presses accept novice authors, do not require an agent, may offer a small advance, and allow author input during production. Authors may negotiate e-book rights. Often authors obtain a better financial return from these companies. Books are ready in a year and remain available for a long time.
The publishers use digital printing, accept few manuscripts each year, and may be very specialized. They only provide basic marketing, and because they are so small, advances are uncommon. They may not provide expert editing and formatting services or distribution. Authors should check out other books produced by the company to verify quality.
Publishing Service Companies
These done-for-you publishing companies will accept most manuscripts, own the rights, and charge authors a fee for production. Authors can select additional services, which may include distribution channels. Production services may be more expensive than assisted publishing services offered by freelancers. Authors may publish elsewhere with a different ISBN.
The author has control and ownership of the product. The author hires professionals and arranges for marketing and distribution.
Digital Book Publishing
E-book publishing is low-cost, and providers offer some type of distribution. Marketing is the author’s responsibility. E-publishing is worth it for books in a digital-friendly genre. Authors may need to hire professionals for formatting, design, and other services. Authors must know who owns the e-book rights.
Authors are fortunate to have several book publishing options. If you are ready to publish your book, your choice will depend on the book’s genre, your resources, and willingness to handle production. To avoid regret, be realistic.