Writing and Publishing

Why We Must Understand the Continuum of Book Publishing

Book publishing options are no longer a black and white decision but an array of grays

In past posts, I discussed the benefits of traditional publishing and the benefits of self-publishing, as well as the downsides of traditional publishing and the downsides of self-publishing. Now we’ll discuss book publishing options.

Book publishing, however, does not exist as two sides of a coin, with traditional publishing on one side and indie-publishing/self-publishing (once disparaged as vanity publishing) on the other.

Book Publishing Options

Instead, book publishing options exist on a continuum. At one end are the major publishers who carefully screen, edit, produce, and promote books, much as they have done for years. At the other end are the do-anything-for-a-buck outfits. They will print any book for anyone willing to pay their fees, regardless of its content, quality, or marketability.

In between them lies a vast array of options, from indie presses, to assisted publishing, to outsourcers, to any number of companies with intriguing labels, seeking to find a niche and fill a need.

A few of these companies care nothing about books and only about money. However, most possess a sincere desire to help writers become published authors, advancing the cause of book publishing in the process (as well as earning a profit). They just do it in different ways.

These permutations of publishers are too numerous and evolving to delineate with any accuracy. An author should carefully vet each publisher before making a selection.

The key to evaluating them is to realize that each has a business plan and must make money. Comprehending what their plan is (sometimes we need to dig a bit) and understanding how they make money (even nonprofits must generate income) will provide a basis for determining if their sweet spot matches a writer’s needs.

If they ask for money up front, be very careful. I won’t use the word scam, but I will say that unless you are personally willing and able to successfully sell your books, it’s unlikely you will ever earn enough to cover their fees.

Book publishing options exist on a continuum, as do the needs of the authors they serve. Finding the right match between publisher and author is essential for the success of both.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: Successful Author FAQs: Discover the Art of Writing, the Business of Publishing, and the Joy of Wielding Words. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book Successful Author FAQs for insider tips and insights.


By Peter Lyle DeHaan

Author Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, publishes books about business, customer service, the call center industry, and business and writing.