Publishing Avenues for Christian Writers
Today there are many publishing options available to Christian writers. You can pursue writing for publications such as magazines, newspapers, newsletters, or even blogs. This article will focus on book publishing for today’s Christian writers. For most writers, being published in book form is seen as the pinnacle of the publishing experience. Perhaps it’s because books are viewed as being more influential and permanent than other forms of publishing.
Book publishing has changed dramatically over the past decade and it continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Not too long ago, there were only two forms of book publishing: traditional, royalty publishing and self-publishing. The advent of the computer, digital printing, and the internet have changed the way books are produced and distributed. Let’s take a brief look at the publishing avenues available to Christian authors today:
Royalty publishing is so named because an author receives a royalty or percentage of the proceeds of publisher book sales. With royalty publishing, the publisher is responsible for the editing, design, printing, distribution, and marketing of a book. The quality of royalty published books depends on the expertise and standards of the publishing house. The downside of royalty publishing is that the author may give up some control over the content and design of their book. Another downside is that it may take much longer to get a royalty book into print, and then they may go out of print much quicker.
Custom (or subsidy) publishing refers to books that are published by a publishing house for an author’s or organization’s own use. A non-profit may publish a book this way to produce a give-away to donors. A corporation may custom publish a book to use as an introduction to their company. An individual author may choose custom publishing to provide a book for back-of-the-room sales at conferences or church gatherings. Such books are not usually marketed by the publishing house.
POD (print on demand) publishing takes advantage of modern technology that allows a book to be printed, cost effectively, one or more-at-a-time as needed—as the demand warrants. Authors may choose this method of publishing when a book is intended for a small audience or when an author wants to test the viability of a title before launching a full-scale publishing effort. Publishers of POD books may or may not provide editing, marketing, distribution, and/or professional design. Because of this, POD books may be hard to place in bookstore chains even if the quality is high.
Self-publishing occurs when an author contracts with various individuals to edit their book, design its cover and interior, and print it. It can be compared to a homeowner acting as a general contractor to build their own house. Or, they may choose to edit and design the book themselves. With self-publishing the author is responsible for every aspect of editing, design, production, marketing, and distribution. In our many years of publishing, we’ve only seen a handful of books that have been professionally self-published. In these cases, the authors hired freelance editors and/or designers to give their books a professional look.
E-books are the cutting edge of book publishing. They are produced in electronic form and sold online as digital downloads. Such books are then read on a computer screen or one of the popular e-book readers such as Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, and Apple’s iPad. E-books are usually sold for less than printed books of similar size because the printing cost is eliminated. However, the royalty rates are usually higher on e-books. Individuals may choose to publish their e-books themselves without the expertise of a publishing house.
Which Approach Is Right for You?
So, how do you decide which avenue to pursue to get your book into print? Each of the above approaches has it’s advantages and drawbacks. There is no perfect form of publishing, but there is one that is right for you. Here are a few questions to ask yourself. Your answers may help you decide:
- Do you have an established platform (built-in audience) and/or some measure of visibility on a national scale?
- Is your book a page-turner or do you have something truly “game-changing” to say?
- Do you have the time and resources to mount or underwrite a full-scale marketing campaign?
- Is it important for you to get your book into print quickly—some time sensitive issue or ministry opportunity?
- Do you need to maintain a high degree of control over the editing and design of your book?
- Does the content of your book need to be frequently updated?
- Do you need large quantities of your book to supply your constituents or those who hear you speak?
- Are your resources extremely limited or can you draw on resources when needed?
- Do you anticipate a limited demand or need for your book’s information?
- Has the Lord clearly shown you the purpose for your book and the people for whom it is intended?
The answers to these questions will help clarify which publishing avenue is right for you. If you still have questions, call or email our acquisitions editor. He can help you sort through the issues to find the publishing avenue that’s right for you.
Click this link to view and download an Author & Book Submission Form. Your manuscript submission will go more smoothly and quickly if you use the form.