Top 3 Ways to Publish a Book — and the Pros and Cons of Each What's the best path to getting your book published? Here's what entrepreneurs should know.

By Tom Freiling

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As a lifelong book publisher who coaches entrepreneurs and business executives who want to write and publish a book, I'm often asked which is the best path to getting published. Getting published and finding readers is certainly an impressive way to expand your reach as an entrepreneur. It gives you added credibility and authority as an expert in your field. But before you get published, you should carefully consider the best and most appropriate publishing model.

In this article, we will explore the three most commonly used ways to publish a book. There are traditional routes to taking a book to market, DIY approaches, and hybrid publishing models. While there's no single best way to publish your book, there are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each strategy. Depending on your unique situation, and with a little due diligence, you can effectively reach readers and expand your influence.

Related: Top 7 Questions About Publishing a Book That Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know

Traditional publishing models

Traditional publishers offer book contracts that cost nothing to the author. In fact, the publisher pays the author for the rights to license their words and publish their book. Examples of traditional publishers include Random House, Harper Collins and Simon and Schuster. A traditional publishing contract can be lucrative for the author. When you show people that you've been published by a large, traditional publishing house, that can be quite impressive.

There are, however, several disadvantages. First, it's exceedingly difficult to get an offer from a traditional publisher, and it usually involves a years-long process. Second, while you will get paid, it's usually not much money. The average royalty paid to authors by traditional publishers is less than 20%, which means you may earn quarters per sale, not even dollars. Finally, you will lose control over your words and book. Traditional publishing contracts are inflexible in this way. As an entrepreneur, you may not like to be contractually boxed in.

Self-publishing models

Self-publishing, also referred to as DIY publishing, has fast become a credible alternate path to getting published. When you self-publish a book, you manage the entire process from writing and editorial to design to print production to distribution by yourself. Many self-published authors find help from individual contractors who specialize in publishing or from self-publishing companies. The primary benefit to self-publishing is that the author controls the process and retains all rights and ownership of their book. There are many self-publishing pitfalls, however, which often derail a DIY self-publishing project. Book publishing is a complex, time-consuming and ever-changing industry. If you don't thoroughly understand what you're doing, you'll waste resources and never find readers.

As a busy entrepreneur, you may not want to spend the time needed to manage editors, designers, printers and distributors. You certainly don't want to be embarrassed by your book, if indeed it doesn't look professional or read well. So, while self-publishing might be an attractive alternative, it might be wise to find publishing professionals to make you shine. Still, you may find success by self-publishing.

Related: 10 Steps to Self-Publish Your Book Like a Bestseller

Hybrid publishing models

A third path to getting published is commonly referred to as the hybrid model, which combines the best of traditional publishing and DIY self-publishing. Hybrid publishing companies behave like traditional publishing companies in all respects, except that they publish books using an author-subsidized business model, as opposed to financing all costs themselves and, in exchange, return a higher-than-industry-standard share of sales proceeds to the author. A hybrid publisher makes income from a combination of publishing services and book sales.

Although hybrid publishing companies are author-subsidized, they are different from self-publishing models in that hybrid publishers adhere — without exception — to certain criteria, including (and most importantly) a high-quality book with worldwide distribution. Hybrid publishers are different than self-publishers in that they aim to publish books that sell well in the marketplace.

Which is the best publishing model for entrepreneurs?

Writing and publishing a book is a lot like starting your own business. You have to do your own discovery and due diligence before you decide how to take your book to market. There's not necessarily a best book publishing model for any author, including entrepreneurs. You may want to wait and pursue a big publishing contract from a respected publishing house, you may want to work fast and furiously on a self-published book, or you may want to find a quality hybrid book publisher that can take your book to market in a high-quality and professional manner.

Whichever way you ultimately publish your book, you can be assured there is probably no better way to build a platform and increase your influence. People place authors on pedestals, and even the media often seeks out authors for interviews and as authorities to comment on topics relating to business and entrepreneurship. It's a surefire way to market yourself and your business — and since books will never go out of style, once you publish a book, you can enjoy the benefits for many years to come.

Related: Self-Publishing or Traditional Publishing: Which Is Best for You?

Wavy Line
Tom Freiling

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

CEO and Publisher, Freiling Agency

Tom Freiling is a publishing industry veteran, pioneer in digital book publishing, founder of NASDAQ digital publisher and professional ghostwriter for top-tier business authors. He's represented & collaborated with NYT best-selling authors and published by HarperCollins.

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