So Many Publishing Choices…

Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

On Wednesdays I like to share information I picked up on my path to being published, marketing and preparing to be published again. Information that I wish someone would have shared with me, back then.

Publishing Choices

The publishing business has changed so dramatically over the past few years and there doesn’t seem to be any slow- down in sight. It is still so unclear who the winner will be in this evolutionary process and that can cause more than a bit of anxiety for new as well as established authors. The good news is if you want to be published, you have choices…

This is a brief overview of the different Publishing Choices available and the pros and cons for each:

Traditional Publishing

Traditional Publishing is still number one through six in sales, in publications and in best -selling titles, in the world. Those top six companies (not in order) are:


Hatchette Book Group

Harper Collins


Penguin Group

Random House

Simon and Shuster (name owned by CBS)



Each of these companies also own dozens of smaller companies known as imprints. An imprint may be used when publishing in a narrow field such as sci-fi or fantasy.


How it works:

Traditional publishers in most cases will only work with literary agents. If you want to be traditionally published you will first need an agent.

Submit your query and then if requested submit your finished, professionally edited manuscript to an agent that specializes in your genre.

If they decide to sign you they will have you go through another round of edits

They will try to sell your manuscript to a publisher

They will negotiate a contract on your behalf

They will receive a percentage of your sales


Once they have sold your manuscript to a publisher:

You will go through yet another round of editing

A cover will be designed and a title will be decided on

Conceptual editing will be done (styling)


The Advantages of Traditional Publishing:


They put up the front money for editing, copyrighting, distribution, listing with vendors,   ISBN number, some marketing and advertising. They may even provide an advance.


Chances are much better for international sales


The big Publishers have connections w/ T.V., radio, Magazines etc…


Your book will be released in Hardcover and then 8 months to a year later it will be re- released in paperback.


Prestige and credibility


Disadvantages of Traditional Publishing:

Lack of control over everything involving your book including style, title, where it is sold, how it is marketed etc…


Earnings- You do not get paid until your advance is paid back (if you received one), royalties tend to be paid at lower percentages than other publishing choices.


The process tends to be impersonal.


If the Publisher does not make their initial investment back in two-years they may drop you.


The time frame from signing to publication can take up to two-years.


Independent Publishing


Independent Publishers tend to be smaller companies and can be imprints of a larger company. Most of them operate ‘under one roof’ meaning they have editing, marketing etc…in house.

There are hundreds of Independent Publishing companies with new ones starting every day. Just a few examples in no particular order are:


Publishing Genius Press

Akashic Books

Coffee House Press

Black Balloon

A Strange Object (new)

Tin House

Gray Wolf Press


Advantages of publishing with an Independent Publisher:


They may or may not require you to be represented by an agent


Offer better royalties

Dreamstime image id 138166


More individual author attention


Prestige and credibility


Time from signing to publication can be as quick as one year


More willing to work with new authors




Less opportunity for international sales. Not impossible but unlikely


You will need to do most of the marketing


Your book may be released as an e-book prior to paperback release. It may not be released in hardcover.


Subsidy, Vanity, Print on Demand and Assisted Self- Publishing Companies


This is where the publishing water gets very murky. These companies charge fees for services. Some of them are very good companies that do exactly what they say they will do and some of them are very bad companies. Some of them are extremely choosy over what they accept for publication and others will print anything. If you choose this route for publishing you must research the company. Have any contract looked at by a literary attorney, request author references and order a few books that the company published to check the quality.

These companies may offer different publishing packages ranging in price from $10,000 for complete preparation to release services, $5,000 for less services and $600 or less for assistance with self-publishing such as ISBN number (your books social security number) copyrighting and formatting for Amazon and Barnes & Noble listings.


Advantages to these types of Publishing:


More control artistically


The highest royalties paid


A good option for special interest, regional, self-help, speakers, cookbooks and celebrities


Quick turnaround time, a year sometimes less.



Some of these disadvantages are changing, rapidly. The stigma surrounding self -publishing is eroding. To break through these barriers, write a good book and make sure it is professionally edited.


Some libraries and book stores, still will not stock these books.

Barnes and Noble


Perceived Lack of credibility.


Some professional reviewers still will not review these books.


Some authors self-publish poorly edited or not edited at all books and it hurts all self-published authors.


Again, this is changing rapidly!


Companies to avoid at all cost (This list is not complete. Always research, check references and have a literary attorney read any contract.)


Author House


Vantage Press

i universe (also known as Writers Club and Writers Showcase)



Publish America now known as America Star


Whatever route you choose for publishing, if you write a great story and have it edited professionally, the readers will come! Just like anything worth having in life, you will need to make an investment to get a return.


Are you a published author? What Publishing choice did you make and why?


Are you a writer hoping to be published? Which publishing choice do you thing would be right for you?

Happy Writing,


Quote writing






21 Responses to “So Many Publishing Choices…”

  • You always have such useful information, Doreen! I chose to self-publish myself, but I’m now looking at a potential open submission. I’m curious as to what Hodderscape classifies as. Do you know?

  • A boutique company is a smaller independent company that may or may not require an author investment.

  • My first books came out with a small publisher, in e and print. Now I’ going through the agent search again, hoping of the one of the Big 6 as well as self-publishing. It is a crazy, changing world.

  • Wonderful list and resource once again. And of course, I bookmarked it in a folder I made just for you! I know someday I’m going to be needing all this wealth of information!

  • Good stuff here, Doreen. Would love to hear your thoughts about e-publishing and your opinions on BookBaby, FastPencil, and CreateSpace (amazon). I would also respectfully add a name to the list to AVOID at all costs: MJP Publishing (Morgan James Publishing in NY). Great share!

    • I have heard equally good and bad things about BookBaby, nothing about FastPencil and all good about CreateSpace. If I were going to self publish I think I would look at Lightening Source (which is also Amazon) because they accept returns which helps to get your book into actual book stores.
      Thank you for sharing the company to avoid. If it helps one person to not get ripped off, I’m thrilled!

  • More great Wednesday tips in your very good series. Love.

  • I chose to publish my first novel July 19, 2010 through Westbow, the self-publishing division of Thomas Nelson. In order to give what I am about to write credibility I would ask who ever is reading this to go to Amazon and type Westbow into the search box and hit enter. Close to 10,000 Westbow published books will come up. My novel Survival at Starvation Lake will be number one on the list. This is because it is the over all best selling Westbow published book on Amazon. I am not telling you this to brag, I just want the reader to believe what I am about to write. I paid around $2300 to have my novel published. I have earned that back and over the years have made a few thousand dollar profit but I believe that most authors that publish through any of the pay to publish publishers will NEVER make their money back. Westbow Pays me four times a year, two months after the quarter ends. They pay me half what Amazon pays them.

    I published Lost at Starvation Lake and Mission: Starvation Lake through Createspace the publishing arm of Amazon for free. Amazon pays me 70 percent of what each of my Ebooks sell for every month. (A month after the sale.) It doesn’t take a math major to figure out which is a better deal.

    In order to publish for free through Createspace an author needs to provide a cover and format their book their self. If they need help with that, Createspace can do that for the author but they charge for that service. However, it is still the best deal out there. I can be contacted at

  • Doreen,

    You better be ready to help your dear NJ friend when it comes time, because you are a wealth of information (publishing and otherwise!) This was such an informative post, and I truly thank you.

  • I’m STILL working on my cookbook, but when I’m finally ready (does that ever come?) I will be scrolling thru your posts for advice. Thank you!

  • Nice thorough list. Thanks. I bookmarked it. I’ve recently had a book published by a small publisher and so far am quite happy with it. I wouldn’t go through a vanity press.

  • I’m not published yet. I hired an editor – very happy I did. She caught some problems that made me laugh. I’ve been as far as senior editors at two traditional houses. These traditional houses saw excerpt of my book through a writers’ conference or networking with people who worked at the house. This year, I began querying agents. So far, several encouraging rejections.

    I am considering SheWrites Press, billed as the third way.

    What way did you go, Doreen?

    • I went with a boutique company the first time and was so happy with them. They offered to publish my second book and although I had other offers I decided to stick with what I knew. It hasn’t been as much fun as the first time so I am thinking of going a different route with my third book. I will be publishing the writing Wednesday posts on Amazon this fall/winter. I want to try it.
      I have heard good things about She Writes. They are very talented women. I’ve been a member for years.

Leave a Reply

Realize Your Writing Dreams by Doreen McGettigan
Stranger In My Recliner book cover
Book - Bristol Boyz Stomp by Doreen McGettigan
Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz