The Publishing Path … Which Road Do You Take?

Which book path is for you–traditional … self … independent … which? Four words can get you focused: timing, control, quality and money. All are key factors when it comes to publishing.




Timing—if your manuscript is completed, you can have it edited, cover and interiors designed, printed and in your hands within four months. With traditional publishing, you can have your manuscript completed and it will most likely be in your hands in 18 months.

Clipart Illustration of a White Person Holding His Arms Out WithControl—if you get a group of authors together who have traditionally published, one of the most common grumblings you will hear is that they don’t like the way their book looks—covers and interiors and they really have been in a fog when it comes to book sales.

Quality—just a few years ago, a close friend had her 5th book published by the same NY publisher that did my second book in the mid-eighties. Over 30 years between our respective publications. The book she proudly gave me was a month old and a trade paper. The interior paper was thinner than mine when we took it off my book shelf to compare; my trade paper cover was still flat—hers was already curling up. Hers, of course, was more than twice the retail price of mine.



Money—is an important thing to look at. Most traditional publishers are pushing for “net” royalty deals. If your book is $20 retail, the net for sales to wholesalers and distributors will be less than $10 per book—meaning that the royalty is based on the less than $10 amount.

The last two years have been brutal to the “average” author—non-fiction sales are in the 3,000-5,000 area. That means anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 in royalties, depending on the percentage your contract stipulates—royalties that are paid twice a year, with a deferral of three months after each closing period; and usually with a hefty percentage hold back for reserves—meaning books get turned back and the publisher wants to cover its tush and not overpay you (and come knocking on your door to now pay them).

You may be thinking, “Wait, my publisher says I can get 20% royalties ….” You may, but you are dealing with one of the many pay-to-publish offerings or a vanity press. Sure, they will pay you more–but here’s the truth: they sell very, very, very few books. Very few. With any of these types of operations, it’s going to be YOU that sells your book. Too many authors and authors-to-be get duped thinking that they have a traditional publisher … and-they-do-not. You may have been hooked by one of the many publishing scams, ripoffs and/or publishing predators out there.

In other words, this isn’t going to seed your retirement—don’t quit the day job!

As a savvy self and independent publisher—when you create a Platform to reach out to your crowd, your sales will not only be greater, the financial reward will be significantly enhanced. For me, I know that I can sell 3,000 copies of a book and net $40,000 to $50,000 higher than my traditional publishing contracts that I used to live with.

It’s your choice … but do the math always.
Measure your time, investment and potential return.



yJudith Briles is known as The Book Shepherd a book publishing expert and coach. She is the Founder of Author U,  a membership organization created for the serious author who wants to be seriously successful. She’s been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the 80s. Judith is the author of 31 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms, Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers  and a speaker at publishing conferences.

Become part of her inner circle by joining the Author’s Ark and exclusive monthly webinar and coaching event. Her audio and workbook series, Creating Your Book and Author Platform is now available. Join Judith live on Thursdays at 6 p.m. EST for Author U – Your Guide to Book Publishing on the Toginet Network at Follow @AuthorU and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU and TheBookShepherd on Facebook.  If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact Judith at


If you are looking for FREE author and book coaching … call in to Judith’s Author Monday Mornings at NOON Eastern each Monday. The number is 218-632-9854; Access Code 1239874444 … have your questions ready–there’s a full hour to ask and listen.

Was this helpful? Get more FREE tips and insight:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please prove you're human: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.