The Easy Way to Choose Your Business Book Publisher

 Or … why publishing your book is like picking a wine

Here’s a new idea for you. If you’re an author wondering how to get your book published, you’ll probably never have thought of it as being like choosing between red and white wine. But bear with me for a moment. You see, when you plump for a certain type of vino, you’re probably considering what you’re going to drink it with (in other words, how you’re going to use it), and what the occasion is (why you want it in the first place). Plus – to a certain extent – your choice will depend on your personal taste.

It’s not like red is better than white, or vice versa, it’s just a question of your circumstances and preferences.

As a business book ghostwriter and book writing coach, I know from listening to my clients how confusing the publishing jungle can be. Often the first question on their minds is how they’re going to get their book out there, before they’ve even written a word of it! And I encourage them not to worry about this when they first start the book creation process, as it can be a block to writing.

Having said that, because I know how many questions you’ll have about publishing if you’re a budding author yourself, I’ve put together this helpful post to guide you through the decision making process.

I’ll add a disclaimer here: I’m not a publisher or a publishing expert. But I’ve spoken to enough of them to understand the options from a business author’s perspective.

The wine list (or, publishing options)

There are three main ones:

1) Traditional publisher – such as Harper Collins, Macmillian and so on – although there are also many smaller, independent publishing houses. These guys take care of everything for you so you can get on with your business (or writing your next book). This sounds great, but there are some disadvantages as you’ll see below.

2) ‘Indie’ publishing (ie you!)  – this is the complete DIY option, in which you outsource all the various element of publishing your book, such as typsetting, cover design and printing, to your own suppliers and project manage the process yourself.

3) Hybrid or partner publisher  – companies which publish your book for you, in exchange for a fee; they’re a bit like a cross between traditional publishers and self-publishing.

So which wine are you going to pour yourself? The red, the white (or the bubbly – no wait, that’s for when your book is actually published!)

I’ll give you the answer up front: it depends on what you want your book to achieve, how quickly you want to get it out there, and how much control over it you want to maintain.

Are you a speaker, hoping to sell copies of your book at your talks? Then a print book will be important for you. Or are you an online business, wanting to use your book to drive traffic to your website and encourage readers to sign up to your list? If that’s the case, you may find an e-book is what you need. Is the prestige of being traditionally published going to make a difference to what you get out of your book (other than just a good feeling)? Or would you rather just put it on the market and keep control of the process yourself? Take time to think through what your business actually needs before you decide which route to take.

Once you’ve done that, you have permission to uncork that bottle of wine and peruse this list of publishing options pro’s and con’s:

Traditional publishing

The pro’s

  • Prestige: there’s an unwritten assumption that if you’ve landed a traditional book deal, your book must be good. And there’s some truth in this assumption. Certainly, being traditionally published does confer authority (although I challenge you to name the publisher of your favourite business book – do you really care?)
  • Free services: the publisher takes care of the cover design, typsetting, print and so on.
  • Better distribution: these publishers are often (although by no means always) in a better position to get your book into stores.
  • Some marketing: they will help with this, although most of your book marketing will be down to you.

The con’s

  • Time: publishers reject most book proposals, and even if you can find one to take you on, it can take months. After that, waiting six months for your book to appear isn’t unusual.
  • Copyright: you will probably lose this to your publisher, so may not be able to get your book translated, put into audio, make changes to it, etc.
  • Control: you hand over control of your manuscript to the publisher, so what you write is no longer only your own decision.
  • Royalties: usually 8-10% – way lower than the other publishing options (and advances are extremely rare). Also, some publishers will expect you to buy a number of your own books, for you to sell yourself.
  • Freedom to market, leverage and sell: they may not allow you to do what you like with your book.

‘Indie Publishing’

The pro’s

  • Full control: it’s your book, your way
  • Keep all sales revenue: you don’t pay publishers’ royalties
  • Timing and flexibility: you can decide how quickly you want to move
  • Leverage: once your book is out there, you can use it exactly how you like

The con’s

  • Less prestige: you won’t have a publisher’s name on the cover
  • Upfront costs: you have to pay your suppliers up front before you make any money from sales
  • Time: you will be project managing a process which requires a steep learning curve – this will take up a lot of your time and energy, which is only worthwhile if you’re planning on writing more than one book (and even then …)
  • Risk of producing a lower quality book: it’s up to you to make sure it looks great, and you’re not a publishing expert
  • Distribution: you don’t have an ‘in’ into the major distributors so you’re largely limited to selling online and via your own channels
  • Loss of marketing support: you’re on your own unless you pay someone to help you

Hybrid publishing

The pro’s

  • Expertise: a good hybrid publisher will advise you on your options based on what you want to achieve with your book, and they know the industry
  • Control: you can decide how you want your book to look, and what you do with it once it’s published
  • Time: you don’t have to spend your own time managing the process, and hybrid publishers usually work a lot more quickly than traditional publishers
  • Distribution: they will have ways of getting your book into the major book distributors
  • Leverage: once your book is out there, you can use it exactly how you like

The con’s

  • Loss of some royalties and copyright: depending on the hybrid publisher, they may take some of your royalties and/or your copyright for a set period of time. This isn’t the case with all of them, so you need to check with each one before you decide.
  • Money up front: you pay the hybrid publisher for their services, before you make any money on your book
  • Marketing support often an extra cost: they may advise you on marketing, but if you want hands on support you will need to pay for it

Now you know your book objectives and have seen this list of pros and cons, your decision making should be a lot easier. For most authors, there is no one route which offers all the upsides and none of the downs – it’s simply a case of you deciding which is the best route for you in your circumstances. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

If you’re serious about your next book, but aren’t sure what you want to get out of it or how you should start, why not apply for one of my free and incredibly valuable half hour Author Maker Strategy Sessions (worth £150/$250)? I’ll help you get clear on your next steps.

And if you’d like to understand more about how a business book can build your expert authority, here’s a free download you’ll love.

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