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This blog was featured on 06/19/2019
How to decide whether you want to be traditionally published or indie
Written by
She Writes
June 2019
Written by
She Writes
June 2019

When it comes time to publish your manuscript, there are a few options for getting your book out into the world. Whether you choose to publish traditionally or independently, we've put together everything you need to know about both models so you can make the most informed decision about your book. 

Traditional Publishing

Trying to publish your book traditionally can be difficult–especially if it's your first book and you're not already tied to a publisher or literary agent. Traditional publishing is the right fit for writers who: 

  • Want to get paid for their book prior to publication
  • Want to focus mainly on the writing process and not the publishing process
  • Are willing to wait years to get published
  • Want to have their book featured in traditional media 
  • Want to win traditional book awards

If these things describe you as a writer, consider the steps it takes to get traditionally published according to Publishing Talk

  1. Figure out your genre: It's important to identify your genre from the beginning because publishers, agents and booksellers will do so when your book is eventually published. Instead of trying to choose a genre for your work while writing, wait until the end when everything has been written and you can evaluate the genre from a little bit of a distance. Don't worry about the trendiness of your genre because by the time it's published, the trends you're seeing now may not be popular anymore. 
  2. Create your platform: In this digital age, it's common that agents and publishers want to sign writers who have a presence online or have created a platform for themselves. Whether it's starting a blog, writing for online communities like Wattpad or writing short fiction, it's important to build a base for yourself because it will add value to your manuscript when it comes time to shop it around. 
  3. Track down a literary agent: When it comes to shopping your book around, you want to find a literary agent as opposed to pitching publishers your work. Literary agents have the right connections in the publishing industry and can even be a great source for editing your book. Do your research through online directories and find an agent who understands your goals and has worked on books similar to yours. Whether the agent is big or small, you're bound to find one who will suit your book perfectly. 

Indie Publishing

Indie (or independent) publishing means you yourself will be publishing your book. If you're not wanting to wait around for an agent or publisher to pick up your book, indie publishing may be the option you're looking for. The process may be right for you if you: 

  • Want complete control over your creative work
  • Want to get the most out of your royalties
  • Enjoy flexibility and hate hard deadlines 
  • Don't want to give the rights to your book away 
  • Want to keep full control over your career

While independently publishing your novel means not being backed by a big publisher or team of marketers, there are still ways to get your book out into the world. According to Reedsy, here's a glimpse at what it takes to independently publishing your book:

  1. Write the book: While this seems like an obvious statement, when you're self-publishing you have to write the entire book before taking the next step. No matter the genre, make sure you get your story on the page before proceeding to the editing phase. 
  2. Edit the manuscript: Now that your book is written, it's time to edit the manuscript. While self-editing can be helpful, it's also important to have others read your work and offer up their suggestions. Whether it's a professional freelance editor or a trusted friend who has a knack for reading and writing, get someone to take a look at your work. If you're struggling to figure out whether or not the first draft of your book is finished, read more here
  3. Cover and Formatting: Once your book's story has been edited and proofread to ensure any grammatical errors have been removed, it's time to design your cover and format the actual book. While you can hire a designer to do this for you, you can also design the cover yourself online and learn how to format the book yourself. 
  4. Self-Publish: Now that your book is ready to go, it's time to publish. While printing books is the standard way of publishing a book, paying for thousands of books to be printed up front can be expensive and comes with the pressure of making sure you sell them all. If this doesn't sound like your cup of tea but you want to sell physical copies, you can also use Print on Demand services which will only print books when they're ordered. To avoid the potential extra cost and time in printing books, it's good to consider that publishing a book electronically is now easier than ever. Publishing electronically is not only good for your wallet but also for your readers' wallets as ebooks are much less expensive than printed books. 

For even more information on indie publishing, check out the She Writes University Indie Publishing Bootcamp to learn from the experts. 

No matter how you publish your book, remember to choose the option that's best for you and your audience or potential readership. 

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