The publishing industry has changed a lot in the past decade. Authors have much more choice about how to get their books and ideas in front of their ideal audience than ever before.

I recently polled you about the various forms of publishing and 77% of you wanted to know what costs to expect with each form.

Of course, the choice involves much more than cost, but it is a great place to start. It’s not as clear cut as it used to be. For example, the industry is now divided into three options, not two. They are:

  1. traditional publishing
  2. hybrid publishing and
  3. independent (self) publishing.

Traditional publishing involves the lowest UPFRONT costs for authors. However, you must pitch and win a deal, and you might not get one. If you do get a deal, you are spared the cost of editing, design, printing and distribution to bookshops. That’s a big help, as this can range from $6000 to as much as $20,000. It depends on many factors, including the length of your book and how many copies are printed. However, trad publishers usually recoup these costs, and much more, from royalties. A typical split is 10% to authors, 45% to bookshops and the rest to publishers. From 100 books sold at $35, you get $350. Sell 100,000, get $350,000. By the way, publishers face many risks. Typically, 20% of the books they publish deliver the profits, despite their skill and nous.

Hybrid publishers, a new model, pay for editors, designers and printers, but require authors to buy a minimum quantity (say 1000) of the published books at half the RRP. A typical bill for this is $15000. Hybrid publishers also expect a share of the royalties. Depending on the split, hybrid can become one of the higher costs. There are other advantages, though, with both trad and hybrid. I am just looking at costs here, though.

When you publish independently, you pay for all the coaching (if you want it) editing, design, printing and distribution. Expect to set aside at least $6000 and up to $20,000 for this. However, when you publish a business book independently, you get a huge return from selling programs that relate to the content of the book—such as coaching, speaking or training programs. Instead of you selling your books, your book sells you and your programs. One great book can launch a career (think Steven Covey or Simon Sinek). The return from selling programs is enormous compared to the cost of publishing your book. By way of example, my first two books—Sticky Content and Overnight Authority—have earned me over $700,000 so far.

Now you know the cost, which would you choose? Comment on this blog and tell me why you have made the choice.