Your Publishing Options A to Z

This guest post is courtesy of Kasia Manolas, a writer, marketing manager, and dog mom living in Chicago, IL.

Once you have a finished manuscript in your hand, you may be wondering what to do next. Writing your book is only half of the story. You also have to know how, when, and why you’re sharing your work with the world.

In this article, I’ll walk through the different publishing options available to writers today:

  • Self-publishing

  • Indie publishers

  • Traditional publishing


With self-publishing, you keep complete control of your creative direction. From the words on the page to the book design and layout, you’re the head of creative direction in all areas.

This can be empowering, and also, overwhelming.

If you’re going to publish directly to Amazon, I recommend Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). CreateSpace was the former platform for Amazon self-publishing, but it’s now merged with KDP. They provide the tools you need, such as creating an ISBN number.

You can also hire a service that helps you design a book cover, provide proofreading and copyediting, and consult on layout (Tree District Books can help with all this! Click here for details.). This is usually an investment, but it’s well worth it so you have a polished, finished product.

Calculate the cost of self-publishing here.

Self-publishing allows you to keep all of your royalties; however, all of the marketing efforts will fall on your shoulders.

Some ways to market your book include:

  • Provide a guest post for an influential book reviewer and ask for a review in exchange

  • Reach out to bloggers who are creating “best of” lists and ask to be included

  • Create your own book tour at indie bookstores

  • Ask family and friends to be your “street team” and help you promote your book

  • Create a blog tour where you guest post across influential sites and promote your book

  • Reach out to podcasts you love and ask if they’re interested in having you as a guest

The list goes on and on. You can read more book marketing ideas here.

Indie Publishing

Indie publishing is a great “in-between” option for authors who don’t quite want the independence of self-publishing, but don’t want the intense oversight of a publishing house. Tree District Books is an example of an indie publishing company. Most indie publishers provide editing and cover design help. Depending on the indie publisher you work with, they may also help you market your book.

Traditional Publishing

Traditional publishing means that your book has been purchased by a publishing house (the big five are listed below) and will be sold in bookstores throughout the world.

To be traditionally published, you’ll need a literary agent to submit on your behalf. Querying for an agent is a vigorous process that can take years. The reason why it’s tough to be traditionally published is because it’s a highly vetted process. The best of the best are selected and it can take years of rejection before you polish your work to the degree needed.

Traditional publishing is also highly dependent on the market. Publishing houses are looking for books that will sell. Books are a business, after all.

This is likely a good option for you if you’re willing to be patient, you’re interested in working with a book editor, and you want help marketing and selling your books. Keep in mind that when you sell the rights to your book, you will make less per book. However, sales may be much higher than self-publishing.

Previously, there were six large publishing houses in America, but in 2013, Penguin and Random house merged. Today, these are the Big 5:

  • Penguin Random House

  • Simon and Schuster

  • HarperCollins

  • Hachette Book Group

  • Macmillan Publishers

These houses also have imprints, which are smaller presses and departments within the publishing house. Each imprint may have its own mission statement and brand. Since you aren’t applying directly (and your agent is doing this on your behalf), you don’t have to memorize all imprints and houses, but it helps to be aware of your industry.

There is no “right” publishing option

Deciding how and when to publish your work depends on your goals as an individual and the goal of your project. For example, I’m pitching my novel to literary agents, but my poetry is something I’m considering self-publishing. Each project may have a different route to publication, depending on your goal and how you plan to market it.

The high-level things to consider include:

  • Editorial help and your skill growth as a writer

  • Control of creative direction

  • Amount of profit you make per book

  • Marketing your book

  • What stores and locations your book is available in

To determine what’s right for you, I recommend researching each avenue further, talk to authors who have gone in each of these directions, and continue to listen to your intuition to find out which publishing route feels right for you.

If you have any questions, or want to connect with a fellow writer, please reach out and say hi.

About the Author

Kasia Manolas is the marketing manager at Avail, an app that helps landlords manage their rentals. Her first novel, MT, is a literary crime thriller with speculative elements—Black Mirror meets Cruel Beautiful World. She is on submission with literary agents and always writing new material. Connect with me on Twitter.

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