I participate in a bunch of writing groups on Facebook and every couple of weeks a newbie writer usually joins and asks a general question about the best route for publishing. I’ve answered this question so many times online that I decided to make a blog post about it for others who may just be starting out on their publishing journey.
First of all – if a so-called traditional publisher wants you to pay them money, run away. In publishing money should flow to the author, not the other way around. There are a lot of vanity and subsidy presses out there and in general that is not a good way to go. The main advantage you get from traditional publishing is not having to pay for editing, covers, illustrations, etc. If they are charging you might as well pay directly to editors, artists, etc and retain control over your books.
Among genuine trad presses there are different kinds. On the top tier are the big 5 and to get into those and other high quality large distribution publishers you will usually need an agent and the process is likely to take a while, but it may well be worth it for you to at least try. Send out some queries to agents, see if they bite. If they don’t you can still apply to smaller presses or self-publish.
And now we come to small press. Small press is generally good for those who don’t feel comfortable doing everything themselves. Usually you don’t need an agent and you apply directly and have more chance they’ll accept you. But the problem is there are a gazillion small presses out there and a lot of them are not very good, so definitely do your research if you go this way. Check the books the publisher has published and get someone to look over any contract you’re offered.
I began my publishing journey with a small press, that has since closed its doors and today I self-publish. I’m happy both with the start they gave me and with the control I have today over my books. At the beginning I knew nothing about publishing, so the small press was a good way to start. I learned so much in the last few years from other indies in various groups I participated in both in real life and on Facebook that now I feel confident self-publishing and would only go back to trad if it was with one of the big boys.
Remember though it is your journey and your book, so what worked for me may not be the same for you. Good luck and happy writing!
Obligatory promo at bottom of post!
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