By The WBR Team
The publishing industry has had a good run over the past few years. In 2021, over 80 million business books were sold. In 2022, total publisher sales of books, journals, and rights in the UK reached £6.9 billion, up from £6.7 billion in the previous year.
Evidently, there’s a market for entrepreneurs who want to share their ideas, knowledge, and expertise with the world by publishing a book. But, as with every major – perhaps even life-changing – decision there’s a fork in the road that you need to navigate.
What’s the best publishing route for your book?
We’ve identified six useful questions that will help you select the right publishing path quicker (and with less chaos).
But first, let’s check out the main options available to you.
Traditional publishing has a reputation for being highly credible and sought-after, but rarely obtained. For many years, it was (and still is) seen as the Holy Grail or the “proper” way to publish for authors.
Assuming you can find the right publishing partner, this route is worth it, especially if you’re looking to share your message on a global scale. Publishers generally have valuable connections and advanced distribution networks, which means that you can leverage this to boost your brand awareness and build business relationships outside of your already established network.
It’s important to note that you will need to handle the day-to-day marketing on your own if you are looking to build your personal brand – things like: your social media presence, your business email lists, general community engagement and most digital marketing.
Make sure you have a marketing plan in place well ahead of launch day, and – if possible – work with a trustworthy team of professionals who can handle these bits.
Self-publishing is a more accessible way to get your book out into the world – although it requires you to work a little harder. Without the support of a more established publishing house, you bear the full brunt of publishing costs and every other part of the creative process. While publication itself is low-cost, you still need to factor in editing, proofreading, design and marketing.
On the flip side, you get full control over the creative process, which is something most authors don’t want to give away.
If you’d like a full breakdown of the differences between traditional and self-publishing, check out this blog.
Many aspiring authors seem to think that traditional and self-publishing are the only options available to them. But there’s a third option that many aspiring authors aren’t even aware of.
This model provides support and help for your publishing project at varying degrees. You pay a publishing company an upfront fee for the different publishing costs, like editing, designing, and printing, and then the company oversees these processes to ensure professional quality.
Most hybrid publishers will offer you more royalties than a traditional publishing house would in exchange for this upfront fee. However, it does mean that you, as the author, are taking on a fair bit of risk without a lot of control over the marketing and sales, which can be concerning.
Pro tip: before choosing a hybrid publisher, it is important to spend time doing your homework on who you’re going to work with. You want to work with people who care more about the quality of your book (and the ease of the process) than a signed cheque. You also want to ensure that their distribution network is aligned with your specific goals. Each hybrid publisher works differently, and the extent to which they distribute and market your book varies from one to the other.
Six useful questions to help you choose the best publishing route
Now that you have a clear understanding of how each publishing route works, it’s time to make a decision. We know first-hand how overwhelming this part of the journey can be, so we’ve outlined six questions that will (hopefully) give you some clarity:
1. What are your publishing goals?
When choosing a publishing route, it’s important to carefully consider your immediate and long-term goals. Consider how the book aligns with your broader career objectives and which publishing route best supports these goals.
If your aim is to establish yourself as an expert in your field, a traditionally published book might offer more prestige and credibility. However, if your goal is to reach a specific audience quickly, self or hybrid publishing could be more effective.
Additionally, if the book is intended to support your business (e.g., by attracting clients or speaking opportunities), the speed and control of self-publishing could be advantageous.
This brings us to the next question.
2. How much control do you want over the publishing process?
Control over the publishing process varies greatly between the three publishing routes. In traditional publishing, decisions about the book’s cover, format, distribution, and marketing strategies are often made by the publisher.
With hybrid publishing, you typically retain slightly more creative control.
By contrast, self-publishing gives you total control over these aspects. This means you can tailor every element of your book to your preferences and business needs, but it also requires you to either have the necessary skills or hire professionals to manage elements like editing, design and marketing.
3. What is your budget for publishing and marketing your book?
Money is always an uncomfortable topic, but it’s something you have to think about when publishing a book.
Traditional publishing typically involves less upfront cost for the author, as publishers cover overhead expenses like editing, design, and initial marketing. However, royalties per book are usually lower.
With a hybrid publisher, you have to pay an upfront fee to cover the costs of editing, design, promotion, and so on.
Self-publishing requires you to bear the costs of production and marketing. While self-publishing on Amazon is free, marketing/promoting a book on your own is no mean feat. However, you also get higher royalties per book sold.
Assess your financial capacity to fund these processes and how this investment aligns with your expected return.
4. What distribution channels are important for you?
Distribution is key to reaching your intended audience. Traditional publishers often have established networks that include major bookstores and online retailers, offering potentially wider distribution.
However, if your audience primarily purchases books online or if you plan to sell directly at events or through your business, the expansive distribution of traditional publishing may not be as crucial. Self-publishing often relies heavily on online platforms like Amazon KDP, which might be sufficient for your target market.
5. How much editorial support do you need?
Behind every successful book is an editor who snips out the fluff and errors, ensuring that readers are presented with a well-structured book. Traditional publishing provides professional editing, proofreading, and design services, leaving you with a high-quality final product. Similarly, hybrid publishers may still offer professional editing services to improve the quality of the manuscript.
In self-publishing, however, you are responsible for these services. If you’re not experienced in writing and book design, you’ll need to budget for and manage professional editors and designers, which can be a significant part of your publishing budget.
6. Are you interested in retaining the rights to your book?
While rights retention (and all the legal bits) can feel like a snooze fest, it’s still something you need to work out before choosing a publishing pathway. In traditional publishing, some rights are typically signed over to the publisher, which might include rights to digital versions, translations, or adaptations.
Self-publishing means you retain all rights, giving you flexibility for future editions, adaptations into other media, or even reselling the rights later. This can be particularly important if your book has the potential for adaptation into courses, workshops, or other formats aligned with your business.
The same goes for hybrid publishing, where authors usually retain the rights to their work.
It’s important to note that there’s no “right” publishing route. Each one has its own set of advantages and challenges, and the “best” option depends on your circumstances and overall goals. That’s why evaluating these questions in the context of your specific goals, resources, and preferences is crucial to determining the best path for your business book.
If you’d like help with making the right decisions, hop on a free Clarity Call today with our team of experts. We’ll help you plot your path to becoming a successful author and provide you with the professional support you need along this journey.