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  • Writer's pictureIndie Publishing 101

Planning to Traditionally Publish?

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

If you plan to go down the traditional publishing path here are 13 questions you should consider before making the jump:

What sales channels, contractual relations does your publisher have to get your books sold in different locations?  Barnes & Noble, Independent book stores, etc. , in other words which bookstores will your book be in? Is it nationwide, regionally based or just a few one off stores?


How many books is your publisher going to print?  1,000, 5,000, 10,000 or more? This will give you a good idea how many books the publisher estimates to sell.

If there are mistakes you notice such as typos, formatting issues, etc., will the publisher fix them immediately and do a new print run, wait until your book's inventory is low enough for a re-order point or drastically discount them to sell before printing new ones? See #5.

Is your publisher planning to advertise your book?  If so where, for how long, what is the advertising budget? Advertising and having your book in the store is key to selling books and making money. Many publishers also sell a digital copy of your book on-line simultaneously while it is in stores. You should check the difference in pricing between the two and determine who gets the final say in its pricing? The price of your book will determine how many sales you get.

What is your “cut” for each book sale?  Does your share of royalty money vary based on the sales price of the book? Did you know that most books do not sell at the list price and are discounted? The greater the discount the less you earn.

If your book does not sell at the bookstore (after 30 to 90 days) bookstores are not going to keep slow moving merchandise on the shelves so who pays for the remaining inventory to be sent back to the publisher’s distribution center?

Do you get an advance before the release of your book? Advances used to be common but are now more of the exception than the rule.

How many books are you entitled to receive for free in order to hand out free copies to create buzz and get reviews? Some publishers only give you 10 free books and then make you purchase them at their cost to hand out more.

If/when you write another (future) book in the same genre are you “locked” in with the same publisher? What if you write a book in a different genre are you still “locked” in? Read your contract carefully before signing it and do not agree to exclusivity unless it is to your advantage.

If your book is made into an audio book who pays for the production and talent costs?  How are the royalties split for your audio book? Unless you are a big name author you can expect these costs to be all yours. The publisher should also be able to show empirically how much more you could possible earn.

If a cinema or movie production company expresses a desire to turn your book into a movie who has the final say in signing the contract?  You or your publisher?  How will the royalty be split for a movie between you and your publisher? Once again know the contract, consider all potential outcomes before signing it.

Who has the final say in the editing and flow of your book? Publishing editors can be very ruthless! Along this same line who has the final say in your book cover? Many times the publisher says it will work with the author but, ultimately, it has the final say.

"You can edit my book how you see fit" said no author ever.

When will my book be released? Your publisher may have a series of books ahead of yours to be printed and released. Ask your publisher what the deadlines are or timing is for your book to go to market. Sometimes there can be a 6 month lead time or more before your book will be available for sale.

There are many other questions that could be asked but I think you get the gist of it. 

You may not like the answers you hear when going down the traditional publishing path. There are other avenues you can take. I would strongly recommend you consider the Indie publishing route in order to earn more money, keep more control of your intellectual property and have the final say with your creativity and pricing.

Is Indie publishing really worth all the hassle?

In my next post I will discuss the virtues of Indie publishing.


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