Types of Publishing Paths

Types of Publishing Paths

Publishing Paths Explained

You want to write a book. Or, you’ve already written a book (yay!). One of the most important things you need to decide is what publishing path is right for you. Here, we’ll break down three of the most common routes to publishing, including pros and cons, so you can make an educated choice based on your personal needs and wants.

1. Traditional Publishing

What most people think of when it comes to book publishing, this path is the oldest and most established. Some familiar names in this category are known as the Big Four publishing houses: Penguin Random House (which recently acquired Simon & Schuster), HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillan, each with their own imprints for various genres.

Traditional publishers work on an advance pay system, meaning that they take on all the financial risk up front, and pay the author an advance (lump sum) to buy rights to the book. An author will make royalties on each sale only after they earn out their advance.

Unlike generations ago when authors could reach out to publishers directly, traditional publishing today requires a literary agent. The agent works on behalf of the author to secure a publishing deal, and in turn, takes a cut of the sale (typically 15 percent). This middleman is an important and necessary step in the traditional publishing path—but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Literary agents get pitched thousands of books a year from authors seeking representation, and only a small fraction are actually signed.

Similarly to the Big Four, many small presses work within the same traditional model. The difference here comes down to budget: Most small presses don’t offer an advance. However, the upside is that many will accept queries directly from authors, without the need for a literary agent.

Pros of traditional publishing:

  • Best distribution for your printed book. If you want your printed book in bookstores, it is more likely with traditional publishing.
  • Possibility for additional opportunities, including foreign rights, film options, and licensing deals.
  • More media attention. You’ll have a better chance for coverage, visibility, and reviews.

Cons of traditional publishing:

  • Loss of control. When you sign a deal with a publisher, you give up your rights to the book, in turn allowing the publisher to make final decisions on things such as cover design, title, and more.
  • Slow timeline. Traditional publishing is notoriously slow, meaning you could wait years before your book even comes out.
  • Difficulty in securing an agent. Before you can even think about working with a publisher, you must achieve step 1, which is to sign with an agent. In today’s crowded landscape, this is becoming harder and harder.

2. Hybrid Publishing

An emerging path, hybrid publishing is also known as “assisted publishing,” wherein authors pay a company to help them publish their book. Authors fund the entirety of publishing in exchange for the expertise of the publisher. This model works for people who have a budget, and who aren’t interested in the business of self-publishing.

There are a variety of hybrid publishers, some of which have better track records than others. One thing authors should consider is whether the publisher has a vetting process or manuscript evaluation. This will differentiate a true hybrid (which carefully reviews books) from a vanity publisher (which will publish anything regardless of quality).

Pros of Hybrid Publishing:

  • A higher guarantee to get your book published. There’s no extra hurdles to jump through in terms of securing a literary agent. Once your contract is signed, you’re set. Plus, it’s a shorter timeline than traditional publishing.
  • More control. You have more input into the editing, design, and book title.
  • Less stress. You’re essentially paying for all things to be taken care of in terms of formatting, design, and production.
  • Higher royalty percentage than traditional publishing.

Cons of Hybrid Publishing:

  • Less likely for printed books to be in brick-and-mortar stores. Most hybrids publish with Amazon, while some work with several eBook providers and a few have agreements with large distributors, such as Ingram.
  • Less media attention. While there are marketing packages, many authors will be expected to do a lot of the promotion themselves.
  • Requires investment from the author.

3. Independent / Self-Publishing

Unlike decades ago when your only hope of publishing a book was at the mercy of a publisher, the internet has changed the game, allowing authors to publish themselves. Self-publishing, or “indie publishing” refers to authors who manage all parts of the publishing process, from editing to design and even distribution. Some authors have experience in these facets, while others will hire out services such as formatting or cover design. Still, when it comes to publishing the book, the author remains in full control.

Some of the most common platforms for indie publishers include Amazon KDP, Nook Press, Kobo, Apple Books, and Google Books. Authors have direct access to publishing tools and print-on-demand services, making it feasible to set up physical and eBooks on their own.

Pros of Self-Publishing:

  • Full control. As an indie author, you make all the decisions when it comes to your book, from artistic choices like cover design and title, to business decisions like when to release, pricing, where/how to market, budget and more.
  • Little upfront cost. Most platforms are completely free to set up and publish a book. The money factor comes into play for marketing and promotion, or if you need to hire experts for services.
  • Highest royalties.

Cons of Self-Publishing:

  • You’re in charge of everything. While total control is appealing in some aspects, it can also be overwhelming.
  • Distribution is difficult. It’s hard to get self-published books into bookstores or libraries.
  • Less mainstream media attention, including coverage and reviews. It’s up to the author to market the book (or hire a publicist).
  • Easy to rush. With publishing a click away, it’s tempting to want to rush the process. But indie authors should take the time to produce a professional, quality book with a strong marketing plan in order to increase their chances of success.
Where to Start When Writing a Book

Where to Start When Writing a Book

It’s said that roughly half of Americans want to write a book, but only about fifteen percent actually start that book, and even fewer complete it. If you’re among this percentage who have a book idea but don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll cover all the details of writing a book, including everything from story development to the nitty-gritty of timing and even post-writing steps. Use this handy guide to jumpstart your creativity and get your book project off the ground. Because at the end of the day, only YOU can write your book. Stop waiting—it’s time to turn your dream into reality.

What type of book do you want to write?

In general, fiction refers to stories created from the author’s imagination. The plot, setting, and characters are made-up, and while they can sometimes be based on actual events, the details are fabricated or used as inspiration. Most novels, novellas, and short stories are categorized as fiction.

On the other hand, non-fiction books are factual and focus on actual events, including history, biographies, self-help, business resources, and more. Moreover, these books are objective, reporting the truth rather than stretching it.

An intriguing combination of fiction and non-fiction is a category referred to as narrative non-fiction, which uses elements of fictional storytelling to make non-fiction books compelling and dramatic. Creative non-fiction is a newer trend gaining popularity for both writers and readers.

Now that you know the difference between the categories let’s dive a little deeper into fiction and talk about genres.

Common Fiction Genres

What’s a genre? When it comes to fiction, stories are put into sub-categories based on style, plot elements, and tone. Here are the most common fiction genres:

Literary Fiction

Works of literary fiction are character-driven rather than plot-driven and focus on the inner character’s journey. These books are often considered highly artistic and don’t necessarily follow the typical format or tropes of genre fiction.


Mystery novels follow a detective or law enforcement as they try to solve a case. Stories often center around a case or crime, and the duration of the book drops hints to resolve all questions by the conclusion.

Thriller / Suspense

Thrillers are plot-driven, suspenseful novels that typically have dark elements. They keep readers turning pages by utilizing cliffhangers and twists.


Romance novels center on the relationship of two people, with a lighthearted storyline that reaches a satisfying conclusion. These books can range from steamy to clean and sometimes include the sub-genre of “chick lit.”


Historical fiction transports readers to another time and place from the past. It’s a vast category, including everything from the beginning of time through recent history. As a result, historical novels require extensive research into the time period, especially if they involve real people and events.

Science Fiction / Fantasy

Sci-fi is a broad book category that includes elements, not from the real world. This genre is speculative fiction and dystopian fiction, which explore imaginary universes, time travel, futuristic settings, and worlds without boundaries.


Horror novels include ghosts, demons, monsters, and more, with the intent of scaring or shocking readers. These books make readers’ hair stand on end and create unease while reading.

Magical Realism

Unlike sci-fi/fantasy, magical realism centers on the real world with magical elements sprinkled in. The imaginary elements are considered normal in the setting of the story.

Developing a Story Idea

Maybe you have a fully fleshed-out story in your head. Or you only have a few details in mind. One doesn’t need to look far for story ideas. Consider what’s going on in the world. Can you take a current event and put an imaginary spin on it? Look to your own experiences, or those of a friend or family member, then use those ideas as inspiration. Always ask yourself “what ifs” and let your mind wander to explore new ideas.

Once your story idea is solidified, start brainstorming titles. Many writers wait until the book is complete to give it a title, while others have a title in mind from the get-go. Either way, make sure the title is a reflection of the book and genre in which you’re writing. Research other books in your category to get a sense of style and trends, but don’t feel chained to them.

Elements of a Good Book

When it comes to crafting a readable, engaging novel, a few elements are considered crucial.


Character development includes building primary and secondary characters that have depth, personality, and relatability. Their motivations must be clear, even if the reader disagrees with them. It’s essential to avoid “flat” characters—those that are presented at the surface level. Instead, aim for three-dimensional characters who feel rounded with strengths and flaws. Part of character development involves laying out the character arc and the transformation (internal journey) throughout the book.

When writing your cast, beware of cliches, which make characters less believable and can turn off readers. Instead, try to make your characters truly unique, just as all people are in real life. Of course, in your story, these rules apply to both the heroes and antiheroes (antagonists). But, believe it or not, even villains need to be well developed.


There’s no story without some sort of conflict—this is what creates the plot. Something needs to happen to the character to set them off on their journey. And let’s be honest: No one wants to read a story where nothing happens. Conflict creates agency, which propels the story forward. It can be external or internal—everything from an asteroid pummeling toward Earth, or an affair rocking a marriage. Pacing your novel often depends on the type of conflict. Will your book be a slow burn? Or a runaway train barreling toward the end?


Conflict and tension work hand-in-hand. Beginning with the inciting incident (the event that sets the plot in motion), tension is crucial to keep the pages turning. You want readers to continue wondering what will happen next, how the conflict will get resolved, and whether the characters will get what they want. So, whether the tension is external or internal, keep the stakes high, constantly toying with what the character stands to lose.

Overall Theme

Some novels are purely for entertainment. However, others weave essential themes throughout the story, including the importance of family or friendship, the power of self and identity, sacrificial love, good versus evil, and many more. Sometimes books are tied to cultural movements, such as feminism or equality. In all of these cases, one of the author’s goals is to make the reader ask, “What is this book really saying?” Is there some sort of bigger or deeper meaning? If so, make sure it fits the genre and reader expectations.

A few more technical details

Point of View

Before you start writing, you should decide which point of view you want—that is, how you want your narrator positioned. First-person POV uses one (or more) of the characters as the narrator. The book will use “I” statements (“I did this,” “I said that”). First-person is considered closer, so the reader can get into the character’s head. On the other hand, third-person POV is where the author narrates from a more distant view, using “he/she” statements. Within this POV is the omniscient approach, where the narrator is all-knowing and can move freely through all characters’ minds.

There is no right or wrong when choosing a POV. It’s primarily a personal choice or one dictated by trends within genres. Some authors feel more comfortable writing one POV over another. If you’re unsure, try writing a scene in each to see which comes more naturally and feels right for the story.

Word Count

How long should my book be? It is a common question new authors face, and the good news is that there are standard guidelines based on genre. Generally speaking, novels range from 60,000 to 100,000 words. However, readers have come to know certain genres for specific lengths, particularly Sci-Fi/Fantasy, which often reaches up to 120,000 words. Some historical novels often lean toward the higher end due to world-building and extensive research. Anything less than 60,000 words would fit into the novella or short story category.

How long will it take to write my book?

This question is very personal, depending on many external factors like jobs or family needs. There are, however, a few ways to set yourself up for a streamlined writing process:

1. Research Phase

Even if you’re not writing historical fiction, every story requires some research. It could be coming up with ideas, character development, or even reading comp books. Other books require extensive research that could take significantly more time.

2. Outline Phase

Some authors consider themselves “pantsers” in that they write “by the seat of their pants.” On the flip side are plotters, who function best with a plan and outline. Determine where you fall and what level of outlining makes sense for you.

3. Drafting Phase

You’ve made it to the fun part—it’s time to write! Of course, no book is complete after a single draft, so be prepared to revise and edit many times (you could end up with four, six, or even ten drafts!). With that in mind, the drafting stage varies from author to author, depending on how much time is dedicated to writing. Some can produce a first draft in weeks, while others take months.

My book is done—now what?

Once you’ve drafted and revised (and revised some more), it’s time to get outside eyes on your manuscript. The first step is to find beta readers. These are readers who will read your book and provide big-picture feedback. Beta readers are not typically compensated for this service—they do it because they are avid readers and enjoy helping writers. Find betas outside your circle, meaning people who can be objective and unbiased (don’t use family and friends!).

Many authors are part of critique groups, where writers exchange manuscripts for review and feedback. Gathering opinions from average readers and experienced writers is a great way to cover all your bases. In addition, critique partners can view a manuscript with an eye for craft and mechanics.

Finally, all books should go through professional editing before publishing. Developmental editing looks at the manuscript’s structure and involves an in-depth analysis of what’s working and what’s not. Copyediting and proofreading go line by line to catch any typos and grammatical errors. All of these services can be hired out by professionals and freelancers.

Are you ready?

You’ve got the idea. You’ve done the planning. And now you know all the ins and outs of writing a book. So what are you waiting for?

Aaron Ray Ballard Wins Free Video Trailer for October 2022 Unboxing Video Contest!

Aaron Ray Ballard Wins Free Video Trailer for October 2022 Unboxing Video Contest!

Congratulations to author Aaron Ray Ballard for winning our Unboxing Contest for the month of October!

We received so many great videos of our authors unboxing their books and promo items! Will YOU be our next WINNER!?

This unboxing was selected for the month of October. The author will receive free promotional material for his book titled, All the Monsters Are Here: Thirteen Spooky Tales.

Check out the unboxing video HERE!


Remember, a new winner will be selected every month! Are you about to receive your complimentary copies? Bookmarks? Posters? Business Cards? Invitation Cards? (We could go on and on!)

Capture the moment! Authors are encouraged to take a brief video of themselves “unboxing” these items. Please remember to include your name (or pen name) along with the title of your book in your video for some added publicity! Authors can email these brief videos to their Publication Coordinator or to socialmedia@pagepublishing.com. Not only will these videos will be shared on our Page Publishing social media pages, authors will also be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a FREE video trailer for their book!

Limit 1 entry per month.

Drawings will occur monthly; 1 winner per month

More information about the video trailer: This 30-second video production shall include high-resolution images related to the theme/story and information as to the various outlets where the book is available for purchase. This video will be posted to YouTube and your author webpage. These are great videos to share on social media websites, your personal website, etc.!