CHRISTIAN AUTHOR RESOURCES: You want to publish a book. Now what?
Your Publishing Options
Royalty or Independent Publishing?
by Stan Jantz, president, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association
There’s no question that book publishing has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. Since 2007, when both the iPhone and Amazon’s Kindle were introduced, the options for writers as well as readers have expanded exponentially.
Readers have an almost unlimited choice when it comes to content, as much is available on demand at very little cost.
Writers have more choices when it comes to getting a book published, so much so, that any resourceful writer can become a published author.
If you’re reading this, you are either a published or an aspiring writer—perhaps both. You want to know more about the publishing process and what it takes to get your book published.
Rather than using the terms “traditional publishing” and “self-publishing,” I am going to use royalty and independent to describe the two primary pathways to book publication now available.
Royalty publishing takes all the risk of publishing a book (and believe me, publishing is a risky business). Once a book proposal is accepted, the publishing house draws up a contract that may or may not include an “advance” paid against future royalties, and a royalty payment structure based on a percentage of the book’s final wholesale or retail cost.
The publisher provides editorial, design, marketing, sales, and production services at no cost to the author. Increasingly, authors are asked to market their books through their “platforms” of speaking, social media, and personal influence.
Because of the risk of this publishing model, royalty publishers generally accept a small percentage of book proposals submitted to them, although there is still a place for the “unknown” author with a compelling idea and extraordinary writing skills (for which ChristianBookProposals.com can be a helpful service).
Independent publishers will provide many of the same services as royalty publishers, but the author bears some or all of the cost. The services are generally outsourced to freelance editors and designers, and the manufacturing is handled by third-party companies. For the most part, marketing and sales are the responsibility of the author.
Some companies offer integrated and cost-effective solutions. Other companies simply provide templates that will guide you through the publishing process.
Which Way to Go?
If your goal is simply to get published, then the independent publishing option may be the way to go. Since there are costs involved, be sure to do your research. You will be investing in your own book, so make sure the company you choose has been thoroughly vetted.
If you aspire to get your book in front of a royalty publisher, you need to work on two things. First, continue to develop your writing skills. There’s no shortcut to exceptional writing. It takes talent, work, and time. Second, learn how to craft a great book proposal.
That’s why ECPA founded ChristianBookProposals.com (formerly CMS). As an association of Christian publishers (primarily royalty), we believed it was important to develop a way for aspiring writers to produce effective book proposals our member publishers will look at.
Writing is not an easy process, and neither is publishing. While the process may be discouraging at times, stay with it if you have something to say and you have learned how to be an exceptional writer. The options for publishing are out there. It’s up to you to decide which way to go.
In addition to his role as ECPA’s president and CEO, Stan Jantz is a published author and the former publishing director for Regal Books.