Indie Publishing Options

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Authors who choose not to publish traditionally are referred to as independent, or indie, authors. Indie authors must make several decisions throughout their career as an author. One of those decisions is how they will publish their books.

The chart below provides information about four indie publishing options—self-publishing, self-publishing + distribution, assisted publishing (a.k.a. vanity publishing), and partnership publishing—with main characteristics, positives, and negatives of each. This chart will help indie authors to make an informed decision when considering available publishing options.

Use the comments to share your thoughts, choices, and experiences about indie publishing options.

Indie Publishing Options with Positives and Negatives. Self-publishing. Assisted publishing. Vanity publisher. Self-published distribution. Publishing partner.


Main Characteristics:

  • Author does all the work—responsible for hiring outside services (editing, cover design, formatting) and other assistance.
  • Author chooses retailer(s).
  • Retailer receives a portion of sales.
  • Author keeps all rights to book.
  • Author is responsible for all marketing and promotion.


  • Maximizes earning potential.
  • Author can change prices.
  • Author can make changes/updates to any part of book when needed.
  • Author can view sales figures at any time.
  • Author has maximum control over book and marketing.


  • Some retailers demand exclusivity (e.g., Amazon KDP Select).
  • Author is responsible for all marketing and promotion.
  • Requires the most time, skill, and effort from author to get highest quality book possible.
  • Difficult to place books in bookstores.

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Which would you recommend? Great to see the options. They are all have their downsides and big benefits x

This is such valuable information! I self published the very year it came out and wish I had waited. It was such a new thing back then but now it is more the norm. I am glad to see this updated information on the options in case I want to publish again!

For me, I’d rather go for the publisher option as I’m not really sure what I would be doing if I did it myself. Al they help with the marketing and distribution and I could do with the extra help there.

I’ve actually considered writing a book and hadn’t thought of all these options for when it is finally finished. Thankyou for sharing this!