I’ve had my mind on a million things and wasn’t able to get to my blogsletter (I still don’t know what to call these Substack posts 😅), but I thought I’d make it up to you by chatting a little bit about whether or not you are expected—at any point—to pay for publication.

First, a little context: there are 3 major ways to publish a book that determine if, when, and where there are any costs.

  1. Traditional: You work with a press who (spoiler!) pays all costs associated with publication in exchange for your book’s rights.
  2. Self/Indie: You publish your book on your own and are responsible for all moving pieces (editing, cover design, ISBN registration, copyright permissions, etc.).
  3. Hybrid: A “pay-to-publish” model that offers a team for structure and guidance, while still acknowledging your creative vision and full ownership of work.

When do you pay if traditional publishing?


That is the appeal of working with a publisher—they take on all the costs. Some will have larger budgets than others (a Mom-n-Pop press vs. HarperCollins), which might influence the kind of support you get (ex: marketing), but you never ever pay when traditionally publishing.

The only exception would be any preparatory work you do in order to make your manuscript look as appealing as possible to an agent or editor, who are heavily connected with publishers. This includes:

When do you pay if you’re self-publishing?


You’ll pay for pretty much everything, whether you’re doing it or hiring someone to help you do it. I’ve worked with indie authors who have hired me or a colleague of mine to help develop a marketing plan for them or upload their materials to Amazon for publication.

Some basic elements you might fund include:

When do you pay if you’re hybrid publishing?

It varies. These presses might require payment up-front or may offer payment plans spread out over time.

Because each of them can operate in their own way, this is the basic process you can expect to go through as a client:

  1. Submit your materials for review (yes, there is still a vetting process for hybrid presses; this often separates them from vanity presses)
  2. If accepted, they will offer you some packages or a la carte options with varying prices
    1. A basic package might include design, production, and distribution.
    2. An enhanced package might include the above PLUS developmental editing, marketing material, and/or media outreach
  3. You’ll review the details (including payment) and sign a contract
  4. Begin the work, depending on the option(s) you chose

Sometimes hybrid presses will outline their basic structure on their website, like SheWrites Press. If you have any questions about this, reach out to them or request a consultation (these are often free).

Hopefully this helped offer a bit of a clearer picture if you’re someone who’s been considering your publishing options and wanted to learn a bit more about the cost(s) involved in publishing.

As always, reach out with any additional thoughts or questions you have!

⭐ Let’s keep the conversation going! Email me at lauren@laurenericksonofficial.com 

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