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The Two Types of Publishing Actions, Part 1

Updated on July 7, 2020
Kristen Howe profile image

Kristen Howe is an author with three novels under agent and small pub consideration. She's been self-editing for years and knows what works.

A handy diagram on different types of publishing routes as an author

Getting Published

Every writer’s dream is to get published and have their books into print. Then later in bookstores and libraries, even in print. But after you write a book, edit it lots into its publish-ready. These days, you have two options to take. Query agents and/or editors of publishers to land an traditional pub deal with big publishers like Random House or Harper Collins, or small or indie press or even e-publishers. Or self-publish it yourself via various outlets like or for example.

Last fall and this past June, I went to two full local conferences that had a workshop class on the same subject matter: publishing. One was titled “What are your Publishing Options today” and the other was “Publishing Actions”. Both workshops explained the differences between traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. Each option had its pros and cons. Between the two conference workshops in this two-part series, these are my notes to help aspiring writers weigh the odds and let them decide for themselves on which route they wish they choose. This is part one from last fall on publishing actions, as I’ll follow it up with part two next week with publishing options from this past June.

Traditional Publishing

Most authors go through the submission process by querying to agents and/or editors, which could be grueling and a long process in itself. They would want quality products that’s well-edited and well-written. Some agencies have no charges, while some offer in-house editing services by experienced editors. Copy-editors would want it perfect as possible.

Traditional publishing offers you a contract to publish books to go into booksellers and retailers. You’ll get an advance and 8% royalty fees and a royalty statement and no other money. There’s no pay for art and production and bookkeeping. You would also get more credibility and purpose for your debut. They would give you guidance in the publishing industry. There’s also professional advice to buy it possible. You’re also taken seriously by the media.

On the flip side, it takes a lot of time from agent and/or editor to publisher. You would need a query letter (or cover letter, a synopsis, and a proposal for nonfiction. You’ll be awaiting for a response, since agents/editors have various responses times in their submission guidelines. And yes, you would get the standard form rejection letters, since each agent/editor is subjective of what they’re looking for. The production takes a long time to have it in print—it could range from 18 months to two years. If you write a series, it would have to be close together and concentrate on the first book. If you aim for a small press, you would also have a long wait.

You would have little say on the cover from the art director. A lot of decisions would be up to the publisher. You would need to establish a platform, like on your blog, via social media outlets, presentations. Write articles on the same topic. Also you would have to contact libraries.


Most authors choose to go to the self-publishing route. If you publish on demand with Amazon or other outlets, you’ll only get royalties for your payment and 100% of the money. It’s independent as you do it your own from independent companies and their imprints. As the author, you publish it.

One of the pros for self-publishing is credibility. A lot of traditional published authors have chosen to go this route. This won’t have affect on the media. As for time, it won’t take long to get it published—at least a few months. And you would have complete control over everything.

On the downside, there’s a big stigma about bad writing going out over there. And you would need money to hire an editor, your own publicist, and for marketing your own work, too.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Kristen Howe


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    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      2 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Natalie for commenting and stopping by my friend. So glad you've find it useful too.

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 

      2 years ago from Chicago, IL

      A very useful basic article for learning the differences between publishing options. Nice job.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      I'll be happy to give you the link to print out. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You can do it.

    • Lauren Flauding profile image

      Lauren Flauding 

      3 years ago from Sahuarita, AZ

      That diagram is really straightforward. I kind of want to print it out and put it on my wall. I’ve self published all my books. Maybe when I develop enough tenacity I’ll try traditional publishing again.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      3 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks for commenting and stopping by Shphrd74.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 

      3 years ago from Bangalore

      Timely hub for me Kristen. Thanks for writing. Very comprehsive.

      - hari

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Thanks Coffeequeen for stopping by one again! I hope so too for you and me both!

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 

      4 years ago from Norfolk, England

      I found your hub very useful and helpful to read. I hope one day I will get a book published!

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      AWW. Don't give up Bill. Good for you. Congrats on Hub Award win.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I've tried them both...not terribly successful with either. LOL But I keep trying because, well, that's what we writers do.

    • Kristen Howe profile imageAUTHOR

      Kristen Howe 

      4 years ago from Northeast Ohio

      Good for you, Flourish. I'm proud of you. Thanks for stopping by.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Traditional publishing is looking less and less attractive. I've purchased self-published print books on Amazon and was pleasantly surprised by the writing quality. Of course, I went by reviews and looked at a sample of the work. I'm a tough customer, too, as I usually see the ending coming and dislike tired, worn plots I've heard before. It gave me home for the self-publishing medium.


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