Writing for a Living: Hot Hive Tips: Tip 5 Choosing your publisher

ChoiceinlifeFifty years ago, there was really only one way to publish a book and that was through the traditional publishing house. During the 1950s the term ‘vanity publishing’ was coined to describe the activity of authors who wanted to publish books that were unlikely to be of commercial interest to publishers. These books might have been books of a local interest, such as the history of the local church or golf club – or they may have been projects by amateur writers who simply wanted to see their book in print despite an inability to persuade a publisher to take the project on.

Nowadays things are very different and there are myriad ways of becoming a published author. This set of tips focuses on exploring the pros and cons of traditional publishing


  • The publisher funds the project so you don’t have to put your hand in your pocket
  • The publishing house has all the expertise required to produce a good quality product
  • Because the publisher can only make a profit if the book sells they will put some effort into marketing it
  • A publisher is in touch with the marketplace and knows what the readers want so will want to help you to write the right book


  • Not every good book will find a home at a traditional publishing house
  • It can take a year, or even two years for your book to be published
  • You may not have much say in the production of your book, for instance the publisher may want to change the title or other elements of the book
  • In your publishing contract you will assign the rights to the publisher, which means that you can no longer do just what you want with the material

It is important if you want to take this route that you do your research carefully and find a publisher that you trust and that you feel will respect your wishes as much as possible.

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