I’m very interested in writing and would one day like to publish my own book, yet I’m quite intimated by the cost and the search for finding a good publishing company. I’m also aware you’d have to find a way to promote your book, yet I’m not exactly sure how to do that. Would I have to promote it by myself or would your publishing company do that for you? Is it better to self-publish? What are the steps you’d have to do to self-publish your own book?

  • Nabi, please only ask one question per question. This site is not an interface for you to get everything about writing and publishing explained to you all at once. This site aims to help writers with very specific problems they encounter while writing. If you have absolutely no idea how publishing works, please do some research yourself first. After you have at least googled each of your questions and read some of the search results and you still have questions, you are welcome to ask those very specific questions here one at a time.
    – Ben
    Jan 7 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


Unless you are self-publishing or working with a hybrid publisher, publishing doesn't cost the author anything. While there are legitimate hybrid publishers -- writer and publisher share costs for editing and publicity -- most of them are scams.

If you want to publish with one of the big five publishers, you have to have literary representation. You get literary representation by sharing your work with agents. If they think they can sell the book, they'll represent you. Other than fedex charges, agents are paid only if they sell your book. The standard rate is 15%. Used to be 10%. There are many many websites listing agents that are accepting new clients. Google is your friend.

Small presses take direct solicitation. Websites like Writers Digest list agents and presses accepting submissions.

There are two differences between traditional publication and self-publication. There are no barriers to self-publishing, anyone can do it. Traditional publishers only buy books that will make them money. Traditional publishers do that marketing and publicity for the novel. This might include asking the author to participate in book readings or interviews but the obligations are defined in the contract. In self-publishing, all the marketing and publicity is up to the author.

  • Traditional publishers often do no marketing or publicity for midlist books. Which is anything but the high level ones.
    – Mary
    Jan 8 at 1:33
  • @Mary, it makes sense they’d match their marketing etc to their expected income. Getting those little blurbs from authors and critics on the back of the book would count as marketing, I think. And publicity might only be issuing announcements on social media.
    – EDL
    Jan 8 at 4:01
  • @Mary "Traditional publishers often do no marketing or publicity for midlist books." That's absolutely untrue! I worked in the PR department of one of the publishers now belonging to Random House. Marketing has many aspects, advertising is just one of them. For example, the large publishers have representatives that travel the country and visit book stores presenting the current program (including midlist titles) and recommending books that fit the profile of the book store, offering deals and so on. Much of the marketing is invisible to the public, but it happens nonetheless.
    – Ben
    Jan 9 at 7:54
  • @Ben Being one in a stack of cover flats offered to the store is not advertising.
    – Mary
    Jan 9 at 13:26
  • @Mary But it is marketing, and you said trad publishers don't do marketing for midlist books. You weren't speaking of advertising.
    – Ben
    Jan 9 at 14:58

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