The 3 Types of Publishing

Since the release of “The Battle Against Yourself,” I have been asked countless times how to publish a book.


Since the steps can be somewhat complex, I thought I’d just write a short summary about the main points, pros and cons to the different publishing options.


There are three primary options for how to publish a book:



  • Traditional Publishing. This is the oldest type of publishing, still widely used today. This is when an author has a manuscript that he/she would like published and takes it to a publisher to do essentially all of the work. This can be major publishers like Random House or Simon & Schuster, for example. Or, it can be one of the thousands of other traditional publishers that are still quite legitimate, just may not have the fame or prestige of that of the world renown ones. There is no right or wrong answer here. The key is to go with what you feel fits your needs the best. In order to get a traditionally published book deal, you will need to send query letters and most likely get an agent. Query letters are kind of like resumes or cover letters…basically what is your book and why is it going to succeed? An agent is extremely important from the business aspect. This is a person who wants your book to succeed, so this relationship is vital. An agent isn’t always necessary though. For both agents and query letters, do some research about how to go about the process. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of traditional publishing.


  • Pros:
        1. You don’t have to pay a lump sum.
        2. You get marketing, promoting, and distribution (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.) done for you for free.
        3. Your book has the greatest potential to be mass marketed and gain the most exposure, and therefore, sell the most copies.
        4. The connections are generally stronger with traditional publishers.
        5. You have a more well-known name tied to you from the publisher.
        6. Easier to get into bookstores.
        7. Greater likelihood of public relations opportunities


  • Cons:
      1. A “great book deal” is considered between $50,000-$100,000. If a publisher doesn’t give you between this range, it’s probably not a wise choice. This is quite difficult to get though, which is a con.
      2. If you want copies to sell at speaking events or to friends, you have to buy hundreds, if not thousands at a time. No print on demand option.
      3. You make far less profit per book sold. Traditional publishers take a good chunk of the profit, since there is no lump sum required.
      4. You lose your publishing rights. You no longer own the book when it is traditionally published, even though you are still the writer/author.
      5. Your agent can make you or break you. Depending on who you get, it can be the greatest decision or your worst nightmare.
      6. You lose quite a bit of control- marketing, pricing, ownership, etc.



  • Self-Publishing (Ex. Amazon): Self-publishing has transformed from being the disrespected option to the one that many authors prefer. It is widely respected and no longer looked down upon from traditional publishers either. Self-publishing summed up is essentially the “Do-It-Yourself Option.” You control everything and anything. You can go at your own rate and do everything as you please. There are free services that are available to assist you in the self-publishing process, Amazon being one of the most popular options. Let’s break down the pros and cons.


  • Pros:
        1. Cheapest option.
        2. Most flexible option. Do as much or as little as you please.
        3. Easiest option to do the quickest. This takes the least amount of time for your book to be up and selling. No other “approvals” from outside parties like publishers and editors are needed. You are the one who does it all.
        4. Convenient.
        5. You control pricing of the book.


  • Cons:
        1. Can be intimidating if you have never done this before.
        2. No people to help guide you through the process.
        3. You have to do everything yourself, or hire outside sources to help you such as proofreaders, editors, and design cover makers.
        4. The option with the least guaranteed success. Nobody helps you with marketing, distribution, etc., despite the Amazon services. Odds for a successful book are stacked against you.
        5. Almost impossible to get into bookstores.
        6. Less likely to be mass marketed or exposed (though possible depending on how good your book is, or how much you market it).


  • Print On Demand Self-Publishing (Through a Publishing Company): This is the option I did. To sum it up, it is kind of a mixture of option one and two. Most people don’t know about this option. You basically propose your book to a traditional publishing company. If and once accepted, it is a combination of them doing stuff for you, and you doing stuff as well. They all vary by the packages of what the publisher offers. Mine included unlimited proofreading, editing, and full publishing services. I worked with a team of five professional employees, and they greatly catered to my needs and desires. They took care of cover design, internal design, and page set-up. They do online distribution services for the major companies. This is the option best to choose if you want guidance, stability, but also some flexibility to control some things yourself.


  • Pros:
        1. You keep all rights to your book. Even though a publishing company helps you publish it, you still own the book.
        2. POD stands for print on demand. This is by far the most accessible option for printing copies. You can print one, ten, or a thousand at a time. You aren’t forced into buying a certain amount of copies.
        3. Flexible, you have control, but you also have guidance from professionals who want your book to succeed.
        4. Publisher takes zero profit per book sold. You can profit anywhere from 5 to 10 times as much per book sold than with traditional publishers.
        5. Stress-free option because it combines your wants and needs with guidance from the publisher. It’s in their best interest to do your book well for their exposure and your exposure.
        6. Get access to proofreaders, editors, graphic designers, distributing, and sometimes marketing/promotion options, depending on the publisher.
        7. Opportunity to network with other authors within that company.
        8. No need for an agent or a giant book deal.


  • Cons:
      1. There usually is a lump sum, and it can be relatively pricey depending on what your package includes. Be ready to pay anywhere from roughly $2,000-$15,000, depending on the publisher. The good news is that this lump sum is one-time and there are no additional payments after. Also, some may let you pay in increments, not just all at once. Remember, if you can get through paying the lump sum, you profit far more per book sold in the long run, since the publisher makes $0 off your books that sell. The only money taken out is printing and distributing costs when someone buys online, but this happens no matter which option you choose.
      2. Likely less public exposure than traditional book deal.
      3. No guaranteed money for you up front (no book deal of $50,000).
      4. Not always guaranteed to get marketing and promoting in the package.
      5. Less exclusivity than traditional publishing because they know you control much of the decision-making yourself.
      6. No agent to help you get the ball rolling more effectively.  

I hope this provides some clarity to the three primary options.


To sum it up, if you’re sitting there asking yourself, “In one sentence, why should I choose each option?” here is my answer:


Do traditional publishing if you want to “go big or go home” and try to score a big-time book deal for mass exposure.


Do self-publishing if you want to publish a book that you just wrote, do it cheaply and quickly, and don’t care too much about how well it sells. If your mentality is, “If it takes off, then great, If not, then no big deal,” then I would do this option.


If you want a balanced approach, have some money to spend up front, and you care about keeping your rights and control but you want assistance in the process, then choose the last one and go with self-publishing through a publisher.


For those of you who are writing your book, let me know if you have any questions and how I can help you!


Which option are you leaning towards for your book?