As authors, we all have some version of the same dream for our books. We want to sell as many copies as possible, gain some recognition for our craft, and maybe even see our books turned into a movie or Netflix series. Am I right?
But it’s a long journey between story idea to commercial success. And there are a few different paths you can take to get there.
One thing almost all my clients struggle with early on in the coaching process – aside from picking the right story idea – is which publishing path is right for them.
Let’s briefly discuss two of the main publishing paths and the pros and cons to each.
Fine print: there are actually several different paths you can take, but they all boil down to these two main options, in my humble opinion.
- Wider distribution
- Can wind up on bookstore shelves
- Some marketing done for you
- More potential for film options, etc.
- You relinquish rights for 5 -10 years
- Publisher has final say on cover and editing
- You must have an agent to even submit
- Royalties go mostly to publisher and also agent
- You keep almost all book sales (minus KDP royalties)
- You maintain all creative control
- You have final say on your cover
- Editor works for you, not publisher
- You always keep your rights
- Not as likely to get on bookstore shelves
- Limited options for distribution
- Not as likely to sell film & TV rights
- Royalties go mostly to publisher and also agent
When it comes to helping authors decide what is the best path for them, there’s not just one boilerplate answer I can give. Each person has to decide which path is right for them, but it is a decision I can help you make.
The first step is to ask yourself these questions:
- How much creative control do I want to maintain?
- How much say do I want in my cover design?
- How much say do I want when it comes to content editing?
- Do I want to give up my rights to the story for 5-10 years?
- Do I mind waiting an average of 2 years until my book is published?
- How much of my book sales do I want to keep?
If, for example, it is crucial for you to maintain as much creative control as necessary, and you want to keep as much of your book sales (royalties) as you can, then self-publishing is most likely the best path for you.
However, if you don’t really mind what your cover looks like, and it is more important for you to possibly have wider distribution, then traditional publishing might be something you want to try for.
I will say, self-publishing does not carry the stigma it did, say, 10 years ago. It used to be that only authors who “couldn’t hack it” in traditional publishing would deign to self-publish (at least, that was popular perception).
But nowadays, even some traditionally published authors are jumping ship and starting to publish their own novels. That’s what I’ve done. I used to traditionally publish, but I recently decided it was more important to me to maintain creative control over my work. I also wanted final say on my covers (I disliked all the covers of my traditionally published books). And, most importantly, I get to keep my rights and most of my book sales.
Now, I do recognize that I’m giving up a few things, such as the wider distribution possibilities. But for me, unless I am publishing on the level of Stephen King, James Patterson, or Patricia Cornwell, it doesn’t really matter anyway.
This is not to say that I’m promoting self-publishing only. Not at all.
In fact, when clients come to me with the dream of landing an agent and a Big 5 deal, I never ever discourage them. I simply help them weigh their options, and if they still decide to give it a try, I tell them to go for it. Why? Because if you decide to try for traditional publishing, and you’re okay with it taking 1 – 2 years to see your book published and all the things you have to give up as far as your rights go, but it doesn’t work, you can always decide to self-publish later on.
Bottom line is, there is no right or wrong way to publish.
You must do what is right for you and your book and you must at least try to follow your dreams. If that looks like a traditional publishing deal, then you must go for it.
Either way, we at Write Your Best Book can help you. We don’t just work with indie authors. In fact, about half our clients are seeking an agent and publishing deal. But it still helps to know your publishing goals as soon as you can decide them because they can even have an impact on how you write your novel.
You do have much more creative license when you self-publish. While you still have to follow most of the traditional “rules” of writing fiction, no one is going to be there at the end to tell you that you have to change this scene or rewrite that character, etc.
If you’re thinking you want to try for an agent and a traditional publishing deal, we can help you not only write and edit your book to perfection, but we can also edit your query and synopsis, which you must have for any agent to consider your book. And we throw query editing in for free to all clients who have already hired us for coaching and/or editing. That’s a $200 value right there.
If you want to self-publish, we can definitely help you, too. I coach authors from the very beginning when their book is just a nugget of an idea all the way through writing THE END. Then, we offer discounted rates on all book editing services AND we throw in blurb/description editing for free to all clients. That’s also a $200 value!
Either way, the first step is to hop on a totally free, one-hour coaching session with me by phone or Zoom (whichever works best for you). During this free coaching call, I’ll assess where you are in your writing journey, which path is best for you, and you can ask me anything you want to ask me about any struggles you’re having as you write, publish, or market your book.
I have clients who start with me when all they have is a few nuggets of ideas to choose from, and I help them pick the right one and guide them as they write their book. And I also have clients who’ve already published, but they are not seeing the kinds of sales they’d like to see.
A book coach is very similar to a sports coach. Even pros still use coaches. Why? Because they need someone to keep them accountable, keep them on their toes, and cheer them on as they prepare for the ultimate goal of their career.
So, if you’d like to schedule your free coaching call, click the button above!