Traditional vs. Alternative Publishing Options: What’s Right for You?

During a recent discussion with a client who is publishing a book, the question came up whether their book project would be better served by a traditional publisher or a print-on-demand publisher. The issue of how Kindle fit into the picture also came up. For others who might have similar questions, here are a few thoughts on the pros and cons of different publishing methods.

Traditional publishing offers several advantages. Having a major publisher’s authority behind your name strengthens your credibility and builds your brand. Traditional publishers also have strong promotion and distribution networks. For some books, this can mean big sales.

However all this comes at a price. Getting a major publisher to accept your book project is a major challenge requiring marketing and promotional skill above and beyond writing skill. If you do land a contract, you cede editorial control to the publisher. Unless the publisher perceives your book as a bestselling candidate, only a small percentage of their promotional budget will go towards your book, and you will remain responsible for generating sales if you want to increase your revenue. Whatever you do earn will be split with your publisher and agent.

Print-on-demand publishing allows you to keep a significantly larger percentage of revenue, while retaining control over editing and production. However you then assume greater responsibility for promotion, you lose some of the distribution channels available to traditional publishers (though you can still get decent distribution through partners like Lightning Source and Amazon), and you lose the additional branding authority a major publisher lends.

Kindle self-publishing and similar publishing platforms provide a middle ground where you can retain significant editorial and production control, while tapping into strong promotion and distribution networks. This comes at the cost of giving the publisher a greater percentage of your revenue than you would with print-on-demand publishing, while at the same time carrying less branding authority than traditional publishing (unless your Kindle book is being published by a major publisher rather than self-published).

These are just a few considerations to take into account when evaluating publishing options. Which method is best depends on the needs of your book project. If you have questions about which method is right for your book, please feel free to contact us to schedule a discussion.