When you’re looking to publish a book without a traditional publisher, what’s the best way to go? The answer is that it depends. Are you looking for the least expensive alternative, or are you willing to pay more to get services you would rather not handle yourself?
In the true sense of the word, self-publishing means that the author does all the work. However, not all authors want to go that route. Some need the guidance of a subsidy or hybrid publisher.
Not all subsidy and hybrid publishers are the same, just as not all traditional publishers are the same. Both types of publishers often have different packages authors can purchase. The higher the price, the more you will get. Subsidy publishers usually require a substantial outlay of money at the beginning of the process. Basically, you’re paying them to publish your book for you.
Hybrid publishers often have a combination of services and royalty payments (thus the label “hybrid”). In my experience, subsidy publishers are more expensive than hybrid publishers.
How can you determine which publishers are best? Here are some questions I ask:
- How much support do they supply to their authors? How much work do they expect you to do, such as all your own marketing?
- Are they selective about what books they accept? Or will they publish anything? Do they require professional editing, either through their company or an independent editor? Those who will publish anything are often called vanity publishers and are happy to take your money without supplying any guidance or support. Avoid these publishers.
- Are they listed in The Christian Writer’s Market Guide? While the market guide cautions authors to be careful, I’m sure they avoid listing any publisher that has a bad reputation. The introduction to that section says that, for every author who has a bad experience with a particular publisher, there are others who are satisfied.
- Are the books they publish available on Amazon, Christian Book Distributors, and other online book sellers?
- Do their books look professional? Telltale signs of unprofessional books are larger type than usual, odd spacing and formatting, and unattractive covers.
- Are the costs in line with what other subsidy and hybrid publishers charge? I don’t look at the price as much as the other things. But it can be a factor.
Evaluating these questions can help you choose the right avenue of publishing for you and your book. When you find some publishers that look like they might work for you, contact them and start a conversation about what they can do for you.
Owner of Perfect Word Editing, Linda Harris has been a freelance editor and writer for over 35 years:
- Gold member of The Christian PEN (Proofreaders and Editors Network).
- Member of The Christian Editor Connection, which requires rigorous testing to qualify.
- Instructor for Editing Children’s Books 101 for The PEN Institute.
- Certificates in several courses from The PEN Institute, including editing fiction.
- Published in Moody Monthly, Guideposts, Psychology for Living, Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and other publications.
- An article published in Home Life, a Southern Baptist magazine, was included in the book How to Write for Christian Magazines, published by Broadman Press (now B&H).
- Placed twice in the top 100 of the Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition.
- Editor for ten years of The Helping Hand, a Seventh Day Baptist publication, writing and editing over 500 church-school lessons. As part of that position, she worked with the Committee on Uniform Series, both as a member and as a consultant; CUS is the organization that develops the International Bible Lessons for Christian Teaching, used by various denominations and church-school publishers (such as David C. Cook).
- Assistant editor for two years at The Kansas Christian newspaper in Topeka, Kansas.
- Editorial Director for two years for Springs Writers, a ministry designed to reach writers of all levels in the Colorado Springs area.