As an author, you have a lot of different options when it comes to publishing your book. We know that it can be very confusing to decide which publisher might be right for you, but it’s important to understand the different types of publishing so that you can choose what’s best for your project.

In January, I sat down with Tanya Hall, CEO of Greenleaf Book Group to discuss the topic of publishing for our Author to Influencer Accelerator Expert Interview series. If you haven’t already heard, Author to Influencer Accelerator is our DIY subscription group for all things book promotion, from preparation to promotion.

In our “cliff notes,” here are Tanya Hall’s suggestions for how to choose the right publisher for your project.

First, let’s look at the different types of publishing options that you have. There are three main types of publishing:

Traditional Publishing: These can be small to large, but do include the big publishing houses, like Simon & Schuster and Random House. Typically, traditional publishers require a formal submission from a literary agent. If you get a contract with a traditional publisher, royalties are usually small (around 5%), and the publisher basically owns your book. They have complete control in terms of design, editing and marketing.

Hybrid Publishing: Hybrid publishing is exactly how it sounds. It is a mix between traditional and self publishing. Like self publishing, hybrid publishing requires that you make an investment up front for the services. But, you maintain ownership of your book, and therefore have a say in the editing, design, and marketing processes. Hybrid publishing can be thought of like a partnership between the author and publisher.

Self Publishing: Self Publishing has grown substantially in recent years, with companies like Amazon offering services for authors to self publish. If you self publish your book, you are in charge of everything and everything falls on your shoulders, including production, editing, distribution, and marketing. This gives you a lot of control, but it also opens your project up to risks.

Hall represents Greenleaf Book Group, which is a hybrid publisher. Hybrid publishing includes some benefits of both traditional and self publishing, and eliminates the downfalls.

Like self-publishing, hybrid publishing offers some creative control and ownership rights to the author. However, from the traditional side, hybrid publishing also brings massive distribution power and access to retail channels that comes from being an established publisher.

However, not all hybrid publishers are created equal. You will want to do your own research and decide which option fits best for your project. Here are 3 steps that will help you choose a publisher that’s right for you.

  1. Start early:

The earlier you start looking for a publisher before your ideal publishing date, the better. Most retail channels require a 6 month lead time (Barnes & Noble typically buys books 6 months before they come out). With that, we suggest that you start looking for a publisher at least a year before your ideal publishing date. Plus, a publisher is going to be able to offer you help with design and editing that will help you create a better overall product.

  1. Distribution is Key:

You want to choose a publishing company that has distribution power. This is what will sell your books, along with a strong marketing and publicity campaign.

We talk a lot about discoverability in the book industry. In terms of distribution, discoverability means getting your book into retail channels like bookstores, airports, or anywhere you can physically get your book in front of somebody. Some authors are quick to say that they’ll just sell it online because Amazon has half the market. But what about the other half? It’s still a tremendous opportunity.

  1. Ask the right questions:

You want to partner with a publisher that will proactively sell your book, instead of just adding it into an online database that makes it available to buyers. You need to ask your potential publisher if they have a commissioned sales force. This is how big name publishers get books into stores.

Otherwise, your publisher might say that they made your book available. But, just because your book is available to Barnes & Noble doesn’t mean that they will buy it. It’s extremely important to make that distinction and clarify that they have a commissioned sales force that will be actively working to get your book into distribution channels.

If you can do these three things, you will be well on your way to finding a publisher that’s right for your project. Most importantly, keep your specific goals in mind and find a publisher that’s willing to work with you to accomplish those goals.