How to decide which publishing model is right for you

choose direction
Illustration by iQoncept

I’ve spent a lot of time talking about the different models for publishing—royalty, subsidy, and do it yourself—and you’ve probably noticed I haven’t come out and said which is best.

That’s because none of them are perfect for everyone.

There are four main factors to consider when choosing which model to use. Today we’ll look at the first three, and Thursday we’ll finish up.


Let’s start with the biggie. Who pays the bill? If you’re self-publishing, whether DIY or by subsidy, you’ll be paying. A considerable lot, at some subsidy shops.

If you go the royalty route, someone else will pick up the tab. For some of us, the decision-making process stops right there.

Yes, there are some who claim “you can publish your own book for FREE!”

Why yes, you can, if you have all the necessary technical and design skills. Please note that knowing how to use Photoshop does not equal having design skills. Also, you’ll need to find a copyeditor willing to work for nothing more than a hearty thank you on the acknowledgments page. Please note that one should never attempt to copyedit one’s own book. None of us can either copyedit or proofread our own work.


How much you’re able to do yourself has a big effect on this decision. If you’re skilled and adventurous, the “artisanal” route, as described in Guy Kawasaki’s excellent book APE: Author Publisher Entrepreneur, might suit you. Kawasaki provides all the how-tos. Please note that he does advocate for hiring out both cover design and copyediting.

If you are totally new to publishing, you may want to go the royalty or subsidy route just to get access to professional expertise. With a subsidy house, you will have easy access to cover designers and editors. Note, however, that you will usually pay more for these services than if you hired them separately under the artisanal model.

At a royalty house, the publisher will pick up the costs, but you will have diminished input into the cover design.


In royalty publishing, you yield creative control to the publisher. The publisher may change the title, may use a cover you dislike…I even heard tell of a publisher making an author change the heroine’s name because the marketing department asked for it.

In subsidy publishing, you retain control. You’re hiring them to work for you, so they’ll rarely push you around.

In artisanal or DIY publishing, you’re totally in control. Whatever freelancers you hire may disagree with you about, for example, cover designs, but if you’re paying the bill, ultimately you’re the decision-maker.

Next time, we’ll look at the time factor, and come to some conclusions about which models are best for given situations.

You may also like...

Popular Posts


  1. […] other day, we looked at three of the factors that go into choosing your publishing model: Money, Skill, and Control. Today we’ll finish […]

  2. […] Related article: How to decide which publishing model is right for you […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: