Choosing a Publishing Method


By Yvonne Perry

Perhaps you are writing a fiction mystery novel, and are unsure whether to look for an agent to pitch your book to a conventional publisher, self-publish on your own, or use a publish-on-demand company to bring your book to market. There are a few things to consider with each option.

    • Publishing contracts for an unknown author without a huge media following are harder to get than ever. If you do decide to go with a conventional publisher, I recommend getting an agent. It may still take years of querying and being rejected, and then if you are accepted, you may not own the copyright to your book. Check carefully or have an attorney read over the contract. Another thing to consider is if your book doesn’t sell, it may be back listed, which is a way of saying it’s on the back burner, but not being attended to by the publisher.
    • Self-publishing requires that you do all the work yourself or subcontract the things you don’t know how to do such as getting the ISBN, creating the cover design, laying out the interior of your book, finding a printer, getting the book listed for distribution.
    • A publish-on-demand (POD) company is a middle tier that is best suited to most first-time authors. There are several good ones to choose from. I recommend Published by Westview or Outskirts Press. If you choose another POD, make sure you are the owner of the copyright to your book when the publishing process is complete. You may want to have an attorney read over the contract.

The type of publisher an author chooses should be determined by the author’s intention, timeline, and budget.

Author Intention
What do you plan to do with your book when it is finished? Do you plan to sell it in hopes of making a profit or is your intention to share it with only a few close friends or to have as a record of your life for your family’s sake? These are questions an author needs to answer before deciding upon a publishing method.

Author Timeline
If you have a time-sensitive topic, you can’t afford to wait the typical two years of querying in hopes of getting a contract from a conventional publisher. It may take another year to get the book on the market after you do sign a contract. If you need to get the book to the market sooner, you may want to self-publish or go with a publish-on-demand company.

Author Budget
Going the conventional publishing route may give an author a small up-front payment known as an advance. Be sure you read your contract carefully to make sure you don’t have to pay back the advance money if your book doesn’t meet their sales quota within a certain amount of time. No matter what route you choose to bring your book to the market, the publicity is going to be up to you, the author. And, that’s fine because who knows a book better than the author anyway? Yet, many authors do not have a degree in marketing or know where to begin with such a task. That is the purpose of my new eBook-to teach authors how to market their book through online networking and promotion.

I wish you much success on publishing your book!

Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer and the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services (WITS). She and her team of ghostwriters are ready to assist you with writing and editing for books, Web text, business documents, resumes, bios, articles and media releases.

For more information about writing, networking, publishing, and book promotion, or to sign up for free email delivery of WITS newsletter, please visit New subscribers receive a free eBook “Tips for Freelance Writing.”