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Let’s Talk About Different Types Of Publishers

Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott


Freelance Copywriter


Oct, 2017

As authors, we have the unique opportunity to take our times to decide which path to publication is right for us, as we have more than one choice. Throughout this article on different types of publishers it’s very important that you keep in mind that’s exactly what they are: options.

This is the second post in the Final Draft series.

Although there’s a transparent ordering to these options here, this doesn’t mean that anyone is necessarily ‘right’. You’re here because you’re doing your homework before publishing and that’s great. When you finish reading, my only hope is that you’re one step further along your own individual route to getting your work to your readers.

Because, in the end, that’s all that really matters.

There is no one right choice on which path to take.

Traditional Publishing

Investors with big money behind them!

In this ‘new world’ of publishing options, Traditional Publishers tend to inhabit a strange paradoxical time-space locale: they’re antiquated, lumbering ‘Evil Corps’ who want to steal your earnings and own your soul book … and they’re where everybody wants to be!

The truth is, Traditional Publishers do take the lion’s share of a book’s profits but they’re also the big risk-takers. You have to think of them, not as book-loving promoters of ‘future classics’, although this description can certainly be applied to many of their employees, but, instead, think of them as investors. This is a business, after all.

With a Traditional Publisher you’ll get all the goodies you imagine being ‘An Author’ (editors, designers, publicists, handlers, the lot) plus you may get a decent advance, which is useful for sandwich-buying and learning to type with one hand while eating said sandwiches. They’re investing the salaries of their huge teams on the profits your words are going to make them and you, and they’re going to push your book into the hands of everyone they can in order to make sure their investment is a sound one.

The only question you have to ask yourself is, ‘are the benefits Traditional Publishers offer me worth giving up the lion’s share of my earnings?’

These days, the answer is often: “Kinda.”

“The only question you have to ask yourself is, ‘are the benefits Traditional Publishers offer me worth giving up the lion’s share of my earnings?’”

Hybrid Publishing

It’s complicated!

Brook Warner, President of Hybrid Publisher ‘She Writes Press’, whittles the nutshell like this: “The real qualifier of a hybrid publisher is that the author pays to publish. The payoff for the author is the much-higher royalty, and that someone else does the heavy lifting of publishing the book (and in the cases of partnering with a traditional or partnership press, you’re benefiting from their industry relationships as well).” Basically, it’s a mid-way point between Traditional Publishing and Indie/Self Publishing.

It doesn’t seem too complicated when she describes it like that but the truth is that there is no one ‘business model’ for Hybrid Publishing. Some are very respectable, offering considerable ‘pluses’ like good distribution to reputable “Brick ‘n’ Mortar” bookshops and qualification to submit books to traditional review channels such as Booklist.

Another good quality of Hybrid Publishers is they have a ‘quality standard’. They only accept high-quality work and won’t publish anything sub-par. This results in the publisher getting a decent reputation (which often means better sales for you) and they get to keep their staff. I’ll explain. A lot of staff on Hybrid Publishers aren’t ‘salaried’. Instead they ‘invest’ their time and potential earnings in your book, this results in you having a very committed team behind you who only get paid when your book sells. Which is an attractive idea.

Ultimately, it comes down to you doing your homework again. Here you can find some of the more universally respected Hybrid Publishers and here you can find one expert’s cultivated questions to probe potential Hybrid Publishers with. Best of luck!

For some, a hybrid publisher gives the writer the freedom they want, while still holding on to their rights.

However, be wary of hybrid publishers! Many are scams.

Indie Publishing

Not a ‘way of life’ but a decision!

The term ‘indie’ has been causing eyes to roll since before today’s beard-brandishing hipsters hit puberty. It’s been worn as a ‘badge of authenticity’ by the self-righteous for years and not without reason. Self-publishing, or ‘very small press publishing’, has been used by the greats for centuries. Poe, Twain, and Carroll all opted for self-publishing (with varying levels of success with it) and Bukowski swore by it, leaving a lot of his work to be published exclusively by very small presses to this day. But most authors care less about the ‘prestige of authenticity’ than they do about the ‘right path’.

The great thing about Indie Publishing isn’t the ‘respect’ you’ll earn from the ‘noisy few’ who decry Traditional Publishing, it’s the fact that you’re likely to keep the majority of your earnings from the book. As I mentioned in an earlier article (JEREMY – LINK HERE TO MY ‘LITERARY AGENT’ ARTICLE PLEASE) there’s a big chance that, regardless of having the perks offered by a Traditional Publisher, you’re still going to have to market the book yourself but, with Indie publishing, pretty much all of your book’s marketing will come from you using tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite to plaster the ether with your book cover and whatever reviews you manage to garner. It’s important to keep in mind: more time on the web means less time writing.

Ultimately, however, and probably to the chagrin of the ‘authenticity peddlers’, there has been a lot of success in the Indie Book Publishing arena in recent years. More and more prestige and respect is being given to Indie Publishers and this means that now is a great time to take the risk and try to join in. Here you’ll find plenty of great resources to get you started and, don’t forget, you could do a hell of a lot worse than taking a risk on us at Steam Powered Dreams too!

Vanity Publishing

Look, Mum, I’m a writer!

You foot the bill, nobody asks any questions, nobody suggests any edits and nobody can deny that you’ve ‘had a book published’. But be careful! The difference between Vanity Publishing and Self Publishing is that, with Vanity Publishing, you can find yourself footing the entire bill and even owing the publisher you’ve worked with ‘royalties’ since they own the cover, type-setting and ISBN of your book, so every time you sell a book, you’re making money off ‘their property’.

Do your homework and choose the best option for you and your book! And don’t forget to check out other articles here on Steam Powered Dreams, we have a lot of great content to help you out, no matter which path you choose.

Good luck!


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