Selling Your Book

Writing Corner: To Publish or to BE Published?

Sharing Stories
November 5, 2023 at 6:55 p.m.
So many books to write, to read, to sell.
So many books to write, to read, to sell. Ariele M. Huff

Writing Corner November 2023

To Publish or to BE Published?

In the past, selling a book to a publishing house was the top desire for writers. Things have turned around quite a bit since it has become so easy to put our own books in front of the public.

Filling out a template with information about the book and the author is doable for most people who can manipulate a computer enough to turn out a fiction or nonfiction product.

But this column is not for simply lauding the delightful option of publishing without spending much money or time, having to search for a house that sells specific topic books, or finding an interested agent.

Yes, it was a fine day when authors could functionally download their products to places like CreateSpace, Amazon, Lulu, or other willing partners who do make a percentage from these authors but who do NOT follow many of the rules that publishing businesses traditionally followed that make it more difficult to get a work to the buying booklovers.

Yes, it’s harder and more time-consuming to lasso the “big guys” than to DIY your book. For goodness sakes, Amazon and the like bring books to the attention of many readers and distribute all over the world.

But this Writing Corner is WHY it can still be profitable to seek a publisher. It’s an important choice whether you’ll do best on your own or with a highly competent group.

  • They know all kinds of things about selling books. The DIY person can never learn as much as those who’ve spent their lives in the process of creating, refining, and offering these products.
  • They offer some services for free. For example, houses pay Acquisitions Managers to find well written work and to follow through with those projects that might be lucrative. Help is often given with re-writes, finding visuals like photographs or drawings, translators for books that can make even better profits in other countries.
  • Publishers have well-developed circulation chains and experts.
  • Publishers often retain those who set up book signings and interviews or who create reviews.
  • Having an agent makes writers more likely to be accepted by publishers, and frustratingly having been published by a house makes agents more willing to represent writers.

Many of those pluses can offset the downsides of working with a house.

Some of those:
  • Far more time is spent moving a book through the publishing process.
  • A lot more changes are likely to be required.
  • Following the desires of the publisher in artwork, photography, or altered directions for the book are not simple requests or suggestions. They are hardline directions. Their way or the highway. And, yes, this does include elements that can be painful or more revealing than the author wants.
  • You’ll be paid a much lower percentage of sales. Of course, that has to be considered along with all those “free” listed benefits.

If you create many books on many topics and have them well-edited and illustrated, you are a good option for self-publishing. Beyond that, if you have plenty of connections for publicizing your work (like you offer presentations frequently as an expert or teacher or have a podcast or several blogs or websites) then you could make more money and have less hassle as a DIY publisher of your own work through places like Amazon. Easy-peasy.

However, if you have just one amazing book about doing something that allures, charms, or shocks a lot of readers, you’d generally do better with a big house. This is the kind of project that often incorporates many years…maybe the whole life.

Ariele Huff is a lifetime writer, editor, and publisher. She has worked with and for several publishers as well as holding many of those publishing house jobs mentioned above: editor, Acquisitions Manager, and publicist, among others. Interested in more information about writing and publishing, connect with Ariele for a flyer of her online or ZOOM classes about writing improvement and publishing strategies. Contact:

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