Written by Elaine Kapogines
Have you decided that it’s time to tell your story or share your expertise with others through a published book? If so, one of the first questions you will likely ask yourself is how to get your book published. There are several different paths you can take, however there are a few fundamental questions that must be answered first. Once you are aligned with the answers to these questions, the “how” usually starts to reveal itself.
How much money do I have available for this project?
It’s so important to understand your budget early on in your publishing journey, because each path has different financial commitments. Your budget itself may dictate which path you will need to pursue.
How much time do I have for this project?
If, for example, your book is something you’re “chipping away at“ — writing a chapter here and there when you have some spare time — chances are you’re looking at several months, or even years, before it’s going to be ready for market. That’s totally ok! But if that’s the case, you’re going to want to look into self-publishing because it gives you the flexibility to work on your own timeline. If you’re looking for a publishing house to work with, there’s a good chance you’re going to be accountable to your editor to meet certain deadlines, which may or may not work for you.
How quickly do I want to get this book to market?
There are a number of different factors that come into play when answering this question. Is your book about something that’s particularly timely or time sensitive? Is there something going on in your personal or professional life that requires the book to be done quickly? If yes, then going the self-publishing route will give you the flexibility to move quickly to market. Publishing companies tend to move a bit slower because there are so many moving pieces.
How much control do I need to have over my book?
Control can be a touchy subject for some authors. If you’re the type of author that needs full control over your work, then you’re probably going to find traditional publishing a challenge. However, if you’re happy to give up some control for the benefit of working with a variety of experts, then traditional or hybrid publishing may be a great choice for you.
What does support mean to me?
Each author will need a different level of support from external sources. Whether it’s a book editor keeping you on track, a writing coach to help you move through blocks, an accountability partner or simply someone cheering you on, you will need to build a support system. Self-publishing is very independent, so if you’re someone who needs a large support team, than you may find this workflow difficult, where as a publishing company will have a support system build into their services.
How am I going to measure success?
Success means different things to different people. If you imagine someone asking you “Was your book successful?” one year after the launch, what factors are you going to use to answer that question? Likely, the answer will be tied to your long-term goals, as well as some other measurable objectives (or KPIs). When you understand what success means to you, then you can effectively evaluate how each different path to publishing is aligned with your definition of success.
The biggest takeaway here is that you want to set yourself up for long term success and you’re going to want to choose a path that gives you best chance of seeing that success come to fruition.
Elaine Kapogines had over 15 years of experience working in Canadian print media in senior editorial and management positions, as well as owning two independent print magazines. In 2019, she made the shift from journalist to PR strategist and media educator, where she now helps self-published authors sell more book through proven PR and content marketing strategies. As the creator of Pitch Class and Pitch Class for Publishing, Elaine has reached hundreds of authors and entrepreneurs with her message that the media is accessible to everyone who wants to share their voice.