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On Self Publishing

Publishing the traditional route is slow (I am not a patient person...) and very expensive; self publishing is really hard. You don't have a team to teach you or drive you to do the things you need to do or to do things for you. Writing and editing I can do on my own, have been doing pretty much since I learned to write, publishing didn't take too much to figure out but when it came to marketing and particularly social media, I have struggled. I am still struggling. These things do not come easily to me and really stress me out because there is a certain amount of trickery with sales that I have always had issue with.

A basic rundown on publishing methods:

Traditional Publishing

  • Slow (a few years)

  • Advance pay

  • Low royalty

  • Competitive

  • Supportive

  • Lucrative

  • Deadlines

  • Quality control

This route will take a lot of time and rejection. I was once told to aim for 100 rejections to keep a realistic attitude. Keep in mind though that a rejection can come up for a multitude of reasons unrelated to the quality of your book. A lot of times, they just aren't ready to take on a new author no matter how good your work may be so don't be discouraged. Keep trying. The big pros here are that once you are accepted, you get an advance pay and they do most of the work to market and distribute your work. In return, they get a much higher cut of royalties and control over certain aspects of your works.

Hybrid Publishing

  • Moderate speed (6 months)

  • Startup Expense (2-10k)

  • More open market

  • Supports according to pricing plan

  • Income variable

Hybrid publishing is a great in-between. You can be more selective with which types of supports you need and what kind of budget you have to work with. They generally also have payment plans so that the money isn't all upfront. You keep control over every aspect of your works and your royalties. The outcome is still very much up to your management of the provided services. While they want to see you succeed and bring more business their way, they are not invested in your future the way that a traditional publishing company would be. You submit a manuscript and wait for someone to contact you. I don't honestly know how selective they really are but they are prompt in getting back to you and follow up with pricing options. Definitely shop around here and research the companies thouroughly. They all have different services to offer, it can be daunting and they all want your business so don't be afraid to say no until you have heard from multiple companies.


  • Immediate

  • Start up expense varies

  • Market is wide open

  • No support

  • Income is entirely up to you

Self-publishing allows the most freedom but also requires the most versatility and work. You are every part of your team. Now, on top of being a writer, you are a designer and marketer. You have to understand and manage every part of publishing a book.

That being said, you do have options to outsource the areas that you may lack in skill or motivation. I have some friends with their own expertise which was wonderful but otherwise, Fiverr has been my best tool for finding people to help when I was lost for a next step. Being able to target specific specializations is saving me a lot of money compared to publishing houses that include a lot of things I didn't really need, or already had someone for, in their pricing.

Each method of publishing has its own pros and cons and I highly recommend looking into all of them even if you are already fairly sure what you want to go with because understanding the other options can help you appreciate what you are getting out of your prefered method and gives you the confidence to say no to a raw deal because you know there are other options out there.

Authors are no stranger to research - use that for publishing. Hell, write a short story about an author struggling to choose...perhaps that will lead you down the right path for you.

Don't forget to keep writing even when you're scrambling to publish or market. Burnout is real if you don't remind yourself why you're doing it all in the first place.

Happy Writing.

M.K. MacLean

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