Exploring Your Publishing Options Part Two: Self-Publishing & Independent Publishers


For some, being published by a top publishing house isn’t as important as getting the message out into the world, so for them self-publishing might be the best option. The perk of self-publishing is that you don’t have to wait 12-18 months for your book to be published, and you receive your royalties directly, which are usually much higher than the payout of a traditional publisher. For example, Amazon.com pays out 35-70% royalties, depending on your book’s price point. No middle man takes a cut after Amazon gets their standard percentage. Many self-published authors are doing rather well for themselves through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other book retailers. If you produce a high-quality book and are active in your marketing efforts, your book has a good chance of finding success.

If you decide to self-publish, you can use platforms such as Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) for your eBook or CreateSpace for your print publishing, which are both powered by Amazon. If writing is more your thing and you don’t want to focus on formatting and design, you can always hire a format and design service to do the work for you. I can’t stress enough the importance of hiring a professional to do your cover art unless you are proficient in graphic design. Unless you are an expert in many areas, there will likely be a monetary investment involved with self-publishing—if you want your book done right, that is.

Here's a list of some of the things you might need to invest in to successfully self-publish:

  •  Writing Software (e.g.. Scrivener or Word)
  • Professional Editor(s)
  • Interior Format and Design
  • Book Cover Design
  • SEO for Book Description
  • Marketing and Advertising

Independent Publishers

Perhaps you want to find a happy medium between traditional publishing and self-publishing. You like the idea of maintaining control over your project with self-publishing, but you’d like a smaller publisher to handle the cover design, formatting interior layout, editing, and assist with marketing efforts. If this rings true for you, an independent publisher might be just what you’re looking for.

As President and CEO of Transcendent Publishing, when we sign an author we consider it a partnership. We are an independent publisher, smaller than a traditional publishing house, so we can give our authors individualized attention and expedite the publishing process. Often with traditional publishing, the author loses creative control over book cover design, title and subtitle, layout of the book, and interior design. What's more, it can often take over a year for the book to be published! The upside to working with an independent publisher is you still have control over your book, in most cases. As with any publishing option, I urge you to research your independent publisher’s record and ask questions before making a commitment.

Below I’ve added a list of recommended questions you should ask if you decide to pursue an independent publisher. If it is an honest company that does business with integrity, they should be able to answer each of these questions, in detail, in a timely manner. These aspects of the agreement should be decided upfront and outlined in your contract before production begins. Be sure there are no hidden costs you might incur at a later date.

  •  What is your average publishing turnaround time?
  • Will I have a say in my cover design?
  • Will my title be changed?
  • Do you offer professional editing services?
  • Is there an extra cost for that service?
  • What is the cost of each publishing package?
  • How many pages does that include?
  • Does that include illustrations or color interior if needed?
  • What would be considered an upgrade or add-on after production begins?
  • Will I receive a PDF proof prior to publication?
  • If so, will I be allowed to make minor changes at that time?
  • Upon publication, how do you assist with marketing efforts?
  • What is my royalty percentage of retail sales?
  • What is my royalty percentage of web sales?
  • What will my wholesale cost per book be?
  • Do you have an order minimum for wholesale orders?
  • Do I receive a discount on bulk orders of 50 or more?
  • Will my publishing package include an eBook as well as print?
  • Will my book be softcover or hardcover, or both?

Watch for Exploring Your Publishing Options Part Three: Digital Publishing.