• What to Consider When Deciding How to Publish

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in Strategies     Comments 4 comments

    Here at WriteByNight, not surprisingly, we’re all about the writing. We make it our business to help writers of all stripes produce the best work possible so they can achieve their goals. For many writers, publication is high among those goals.

    Nowadays, writers have more options than ever to usher their creative work into the world. Trouble is, with so many options, it can be challenging to figure out which is the right fit for you. Couple that with the fact that the Internet is bursting with information and advice about publication, and it’s no wonder so many writers end up feeling confused and overwhelmed.

    In your search for reliable, unbiased, straightforward information about your publishing options, look no further.

    A few weeks ago, Greenleaf Book Group’s business development executive Maryn Masumiya blogged for us about the pros and cons of the three most popular publication routes: traditional publication, self-publication, and hybrid publication. Today, I’d like to elaborate upon Maryn’s valuable insights by sharing the advice that I consistently give to writers who ask me how they should publish:

    Long story short, there’s no right or wrong answer; you should do what makes sense for you, what best fits your needs.

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    What to Consider When Deciding How to Publish


    Do you have it? Are you willing to wait the months, or even years, it takes to find an agent and/or sign with a publisher and finally see your book on bookshelves? Are you willing to devote the countless hours it will take to promote your book once it’s published? With traditional publication, you’re still expected to self-promote but you have the support of the publisher; with self-publication, you’re entirely on your own.

    In this busy day and age, time is at a premium; think carefully about how you want to spend yours.


    How much of a monetary investment are you capable of making? How much of an investment are you willing to make? Traditional publication will cost you by far the least amount of money (you don’t pay your agent out of pocket, and your publisher will cover production costs); self-publication, some (figure a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the decisions you make along the way); and hybrid publication, by far the most (figure anywhere from a few thousand to several thousand dollars, again depending upon your choices along the way).

    So what’s possible for you? What level of investment feels like a good fit?

    Comfort level

    There are a lot of moving parts to the publication process (layout, cover design, format, distribution, etc.) and many potential hurdles to overcome. For example, how comfortable are you with technology? Regardless of how you publish, you’ll need a website, possibly a blog, various social media accounts, and more. How about book tours? Many writers are introverts and can be uncomfortable with the promotional activities that go along with publishing a book, such as readings, signings, and panels. These days, self-promotion is par for the course no matter how you publish.

    So this is less of a consideration than a warning: bone up on your tech and people skills—you’re going to need them.


    Do you have a vision for your book’s packaging? When you close your eyes, do you see a specific cover, with a specific design? Are you attached to that vision? If so, self-publication may be the way to go. With self-publication, you retain complete control over every aspect of the book’s production; as soon as other people get involved, you relinquish some control. Exactly how much depends upon your specific agreement.

    Control freaks, beware!


    Will people be interested in what you’re writing about? Will they be interested enough to spend their hard-earned money? If the answer is no, you may not want to devote all that time and energy searching for an agent or publisher because the first thing they’ll ask themselves is, is this book salable? Then you’re back to square one.

    It’s not possible to accurately predict what will sell, or what an agent or publisher will be interested in—that’s why we query—but you can evaluate your manuscript realistically and decide whether to revise for market appeal, or roll the dice and see what happens. You never know . . .


    This is the biggest and perhaps most important consideration of all: what are your goals? Do you want to make money? Gain a wide readership? Feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with seeing your name on a book? In all likelihood, it’s a combination, but what do you want most? In most cases, traditional publication has the best monetary return; both traditional and hybrid publication boast a wide reach; and self-publication is perfect for reveling in the glory of a very big job well done.

    Identify your goals, then prioritize them, and see which publishing model is most likely to get you where you want to go.


    As you can see, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to publication. What works for one writer may not work for the next. Figure out what will work for you by carefully weighing your options to find not the simplest, or the cheapest, or the most popular route, but the absolute best fit for you and your writing.

    If you need help choosing a path to publication or assistance with your publication-related materials, check out WriteByNight’s publication assistance services, including research, query letter assistance, book proposal assistance, and more.

    (NOTE: In this post, I’m discussing book-length manuscripts only. Publication for individual short stories, essays, articles, poems, and other relatively short, stand-alone pieces is a horse of a different color. We’ll cover that for you in a future blog post, so stay tuned!)


    How about you, WriteByNighters? Have these considerations entered into your decision-making process? Other considerations, perhaps? What’s been your experience with choosing a path to publication?


    Justine Tal Goldberg, ownerWriteByNight owner Justine Duhr is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, Fringe Magazine, The Review Review, and other publications. She holds an MFA in creative writing and has provided writing instruction at Vassar College and Emerson College.

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    […] What to Consider When Deciding How to Publish […]


    Great article Justine! I completely agree that there is no “one size fits all” approach to publication. Authors need to determine what is most important to them and do their research before deciding the best route to take.

    Justine Tal Goldberg

    Thanks, Maryn! It’s so easy to look at a friend who’s been through the publishing process and believe that because it worked for them it’ll work for you. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were the case?! Much like writing, publishing is an individual process that everyone has to figure out for themselves . . . with guidance, of course.

    Thanks so much for reading and for your informative post (https://www.writebynight.net/abcs-of-writing/strategies/your-publishing-options/).

    […] What to Consider When Deciding How to Publish […]

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