How Hard Is It To Publish A Book? What Budding Authors Should Know

by CJ McDaniel // April 27  

For any writer that intends to be an author, publishing your book is essential. Now, more than ever, there are so many options for publishing your book. And this has increased the number of published books per year.

Now let’s revisit the question.

So, how hard is it to publish a book?

Publishing a book may be difficult or not based on your knowledge of the industry and capacity to pull it off. For instance, if it’s your first time publishing a book, the lack of know-how can make the process extremely difficult compared to when you’ve done it several times.

This article will improve your understanding of publishing a book to reduce the difficulty of the process.

Steps To Publish A Book

Write a manuscript:

Set your mind on the type of book you want to write. You can also decide the topic you want to focus your book on. Then go on to write your book. It doesn’t have to be great at first. Just create a draft and outline first.

Divide your topic into chapters. And decide how much time you’ll spend on the book each day. With that, you can complete the book and prepare your manuscript.

Edit your manuscript: 

When you finish writing, edit your manuscript yourself. Do it several times and ask your friends for feedback. Next, hand it to an editor. It’s best to let a professional editor edit your book.

Don’t edit your book by yourself. Use a professional editor, as he or she will make your book get rid of mistakes. An editor will help to improve your book’s flow.

The editing process includes revising, improving, and amending the manuscript.

Design your book:

Your book design should be in line with your content, style, and type of book. So, assemble the book cover to fit the internal text.

If you’re planning to use traditional publishing, your publisher is responsible for the design with little or no input from you. But if you self-publish, you will be able to choose your book design.


This involves putting together the book in your preferred format. It can be audio, digital document, or print format.

Marketing and distribution: 

This step requires you to generate awareness for the book. It also requires you to circulate the book through different channels to the readers. You can increase your marketing through social media, websites, or email lists.

However, you can get it across to distributors and retailers through traditional publishers.


Involves using various methods to entice readers to buy your book. The activities target sales within a particular period. It includes advertisements, book tours, blog tours, price promotion, media coverage, etc.

Publishing rights licensing: 

It involves handing out the right to publish or reproduce your book in exchange for royalties.

Choosing The Type Of Publishing

Traditional publishing: 

This involves publishing your book through a publishing company. It usually requires you to use a literary agent to secure a deal. It’s so because most traditional publishers don’t accept submissions from authors directly. So it makes it hard to get a publisher. But, if they collect your manuscript, they have ownership right to the book.

Sometimes, you’ll get an advance payment. The publisher will also give you a percentage of royalties (usually 5%-20%). And the literary agent usually gets a cut of the royalties.

Furthermore, the publisher is in charge of editing and marketing the book. They usually decide on the book cover too.

However, you may get press or media spots and endorsements from renowned authors. They also sell your book directly to retailers and bookstores. Therefore, you’ll have a high chance of entering bestseller lists.


Although it has grown in popularity, yet most people still look down on it. Just as the name implies, you’re your publisher when you self-publish. You’re responsible for every stage of the book publishing. All steps of publishing like editing, designing, marketing, and producing are in your hands. And you’ll get all the royalties of the book.

However, it still has its challenges. It’s usually prone to errors, which is why some people look down on it. Some self-publishing companies render editing services that are not top-notch. Sometimes, your editors are computer systems. So if you’re choosing this, be sure to find a credible editor.

Another challenge is usually unprofessional design or production. Just because your friend likes to draw doesn’t mean he can design your book cover. An ordinary design can limit your book sales. Remember that most people judge a book by its cover. To avoid this, always pay professionals to handle it.

Also, your book has a very slim chance to be a bestseller or be in bookstores.

Hybrid publishing: 

You guessed right! This type of book publishing is in the middle of traditional and self-publishing. Just like self-publishing, you have all the rights to your book and can decide how you want it to look. But unlike self-publishing, you won’t have to pay professionals individually to edit, design, and produce your book. The hybrid publisher handles all these aspects.

Some of them even help you in marketing your book. And some get book reviews. Also, they get a part of your royalties. However, unlike traditional publishing, it ranges from 20% to 50% based on their services.

So, the type of publishing you should choose depends on your finance and the platforms you have. Each of them will suit you well based on these reasons.

Traditional publishing is a good choice, if:

  • You have a platform or a top-notch book.
  • You want to be visible to both national and international audiences.
  • You want to be on bestseller lists.

Self-publishing is a good choice if:

  • You’ll sell to your audience directly (through events or online).
  • You have a good knowledge of the publishing industry.
  • You prefer a DIY(do-it-yourself) method.
  • You want to be part of all aspects of the book publishing process.

Hybrid publishing is a good choice, if:

  • Your book is part of your business strategy or a means for self-promotion.
  • You want your book in the market on time.
  • You don’t know much about the publishing industry.
  • You want to have much editorial control over your book.

Things To Consider When You Want To Publish A Book 


You have to consider how long it will take you to publish the book. If you’re going for traditional publishing, you should be able to wait for more than a year or two. It’s so because it can take months for you to find a literary agent. And when you finally find one, it can take extra months to get to pitch to the publishers.

However, you can do a buyback to reduce the publisher’s risks, so they’ll publish your book in less than a year. But it can cost much to do this.

Also, you can choose hybrid publishing to do it within a year. Some can take 2 to 3 months, especially if your manuscript is ready. But you can self-publish if you want to have a flexible timeline. So, you’ll be able to publish whenever you want once you finish the work.


It means you’ll buy the books from the publisher when they publish them. It’s a juicy offer for traditional publishers, as it reduces their financial risk. It also increases your chances of getting a better publisher.

Since it reduces their risk, they’ll put effort into the content and production process. On your part, you can sell the books with profit. So, it can improve your publishing strategy.


It’s easy for you to get a deal with a traditional publisher if you have a platform. It shows your ability to sell books without the help of a publisher. Also, it includes your public profile, access to media and speaking events, as well as your social media following. It shows your level of influence and publicity.

In essence, traditional publishers are likely to publish your book if you have an existing platform that’ll ensure the book sells. So, if you prefer that, you should invest time and other resources to build a platform to increase your chances to secure a deal. For instance, if you write a non-fiction book, you should reach at least 30,000 readers in a year.

But you have to consider if you can give your time and effort to it. If it’s not worth it, you can use hybrid publishing or self-publish your book. So, your decision to invest in a platform or not will determine how you publish your book.

Level of finances: 

Your financial capacity can determine which type of publishing you use. So you can use a traditional publisher if you have enough money. But a hybrid publisher can be a good option if you’re also considering a quick production. However, you can still self-publish if you don’t have enough money for other ones.

Furthermore, no matter how much money you have, you must have a great book to attract a traditional publisher. So invest your money in getting a professional editor to improve your book. You can also invest in publicity, marketing, and even a buyback (to secure a traditional publisher).


If you’re about to publish a book for the first time, it may seem tricky to choose the type of publishing that is right for you. So, consider your resources before you choose a publishing method.

Finally, whether it’s hard for you or not will depend on the choice you make and if that choice suits you. As you get familiar with these methods, publishing will not be so hard for you any longer.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!