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A Look at All the Types of Book Publishers Out There... Plus Pros and Cons of Each

Publishing a book should be a thrilling endeavor. It’s your chance to share your knowledge, expertise, and unique story with the world! But bringing that book to life — actually publishing it — can sometimes be a scary process. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of decisions that must be made, and deciding how to publish your book is one of the biggest you will make. With the rise of hybrid publishing and the continued options of self-publishing and traditional publishing, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons of each approach and decide which one is best for you.


In this post, we'll explore the types of book publishers. Plus, we'll look at the advantages and drawbacks of hybrid publishing, self-publishing, and traditional publishing to help authors make an informed decision. But first, let’s get one thing out of the way: There is no one “right path” to publishing.



It’s important to understand that choosing the right publishing method depends on you and your goals. If you are planning to write a book about your family’s history as a gift to family members, for example, you’re likely better off self-publishing. If you’ve already got a highly engaged social media platform and newsletter with tens of thousands of followers, and you’ve always dreamed of landing a publishing deal to start your fiction writing career, you should consider finding an agent and pitching one of the Big Five traditional publishing houses. If you’re a busy career professional or business owner and you want to share your expertise, you might be best served with hybrid publishing. Some authors will publish one book one way and the next book another.


Determining whether to self-publish or use a hybrid publisher usually comes down to time and money. While self-publishing is not free, it is almost always more affordable than hybrid publishing. That said, your time also has value, so consider the fact that if you’re self-publishing, you’ll also be the one doing the research and managing the project from beginning to end. While traditional publishing has no upfront costs, it is harder than ever to get published this way…and it typically takes longer than the other two (even removing time spent pitching publishers and agents)!


Here is a quick look at the pros and cons of each type of book publisher.


Traditional Publishers


Pros:

  • Wide distribution network.

  • Easier access to esteemed media outlets and review networks.

  • Potential access to the New York Times best seller and Wall Street Journal best seller lists (depending on your book's topic and other factors).

  • Opportunity to receive an advance for your book, although not guaranteed. (Advances must be “earned back” in order to get royalties.)


Cons:

  • Publishers have become extremely choosy about picking up first-time authors.

  • Most authors first need to find an agent and must query lots of publishers.

  • Large advances are rare, and authors are still responsible for some promotion of their book.

  • Authors have little control over artwork, editing, and content.

  • The lead time between finishing your manuscript and getting your book published is about two years.

  • Author royalties are low (typically 7 to 10 percent).


Self-Publishing


Pros:

  • Author has total control over the editing and cover design.

  • Author keeps all royalties.

  • If the author has plenty of time, is willing to research best practices, and is willing to learn new tools and software (or hire out individually), this is the most cost-effective way to publish.


Cons:

  • The process is time-consuming.

  • Distribution is limited as authors often lack the distribution network of traditional publishers.

  • Author is responsible for sourcing, managing, and paying for a wide-range of talent, including a book editor, proofreader, cover designer, interior formatter, and any other marketing assistance required.

  • Limited to no access to objective industry expertise.

  • The upfront cost savings can end up costing the author a quality product.


Hybrid Publishing


Pros (true for some but not all hybrid publishers):

  • It’s the fastest route to publishing.

  • It’s an all-inclusive experience, so you save time not having to hire and manage a team.

  • If you’re working with a reputable publisher, they will handle the management of your project so you can focus on what’s important to you.

  • Author receives professional expertise and access to full distribution channels, including online retailers, bookstores, libraries, and more.

  • You maintain control over marketing, artwork, and content.

  • Easier access to a quality publishing service than with a traditional publisher (it’s direct).

  • Some offer comprehensive marketing services and a white-glove level of support.

  • Personalized one-on-one experience to help you build your author brand.


Cons:

  • Hybrid publishers can be selective in who they choose to work with (although not nearly as selective as traditional publishers).

  • Lacking a gold standard, the hybrid publishing world is a little like the Wild West, and the author needs to research and vet publishers to find reputable options (here’s what to look for in a reputable hybrid publisher).

  • Hybrid publishing is almost always more costly upfront than either self-publishing or traditional publishing.

  • Hybrid publishers maintain (some) rights to the books (this is another thing to examine carefully).

  • Authors receive a higher royalty split than they’d receive from a traditional publisher but a lower royalty than they would get if they self-published.


Once authors have a pretty good understanding of the pros and cons of each publishing type, it's easier to make a decision. Once you decide on the type of publisher you want for your book, you're one step closer to putting it out into the world!



As a reputable hybrid publisher, Sulit Press prides itself on meeting the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) standards for hybrid publishers, working only with authors that share our goal for quality publishing.


Have a non-fiction or memoir manuscript you’d like to get published? Submit your manuscript for a free evaluation or book a free discovery call!



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