Guest post from David Walton: WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO PUBLISH MY BOOK?

Posted by on Apr 7, 2015 in Blog, others books, publication process | 4 comments

Today I welcome author David Walton to the blog. His book Superposition is out from Pyr today–be sure to check it out!


There are so many choices these days! Submit your book to a big NY publisher? Try a small press? Publish yourself? Each of these choices have their pros and cons, depending on what you’re looking for. And I’ve tried all three.


[Superposition by David Walton]

My first novel, TERMINAL MIND, was published through a small press. The second, QUINTESSENCE, was a hardcover release with Tor Books. My third, QUINTESSENCE SKY (the sequel to the Tor release), I self-published. I have only one experience with each so far, so your mileage my vary, but I can tell you what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve learned from the journey so far.

1. SMALL PRESS. The best part of working with a small press was the very small number of people involved (two!), each of whom was totally devoted to my book and making it succeed. They cared about my opinion and worked very hard on the book. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a very wide reach. They couldn’t get Terminal Mind in bookstores (for the most part), and even when it won the Philip K. Dick Award that year, not many people knew about it. All in all, however, this was a great experience, and I have no complaints.

2. BIG PRESS. The best part of working with a big press is that it’s big! Everyone has heard of Tor, which means credibility, a bigger advance, and national bookstore distribution. Tor made Quintessence into a beautiful hardcover, and I thought my career was made. Unfortunately, although the book sold a lot more out of the gate than Terminal Mind did, it wasn’t very much by Tor’s standards. It didn’t earn out its advance, and they declined to pick up the sequel. Still and all, an exciting experience that has done a lot to establish my name in the genre and spread awareness of my books.

3. SELF-PUBLISHING. Self-publishing has been an adventure. I approached it differently than many authors do: instead of hiring people to produce the cover art, cover design, interior layout, e-book format, etc., I decided to do it all myself. As a result, it cost me practically nothing to produce Quintessence Sky, though it took a lot of learning and a lot of work. I think the result is quite attractive–not entirely up to Tor’s standards, perhaps, but certainly as good as many small press books. The great thing about self-publishing is that I own it. All the profits come to me, I can run special sales and promotions whenever I like, and it will continue to be available forever.

4. MEDIUM PRESS. What, you say? A fourth option? I thought you were talking about three! We often talk of three categories, but really there’s a whole spectrum. There are not-quite-so-big publishers, and medium publishers, and small publishers, and quite tiny publishers. My fourth and fifth books, SUPERPOSITION and SUPERSYMMETRY, will be published by Pyr Books in April and September. Pyr could be considered a big press–they have national bookstore distribution through Penguin Random House, and they publish a good number of books each year. My experience there so far has been extremely positive: they have the personal enthusiasm and attention of a small press, but the reach and publicity of a larger one.

So… which option is best for you? The answer depends on what you want. None of them are easy roads. None of them is a sure bet for making money. The question is, where do you want the difficulty to be?

If you try for a big publisher, the difficult part will be getting published at all. The competition is fierce, and books are relatively few. If you are published, the difficulties may come in retaining control over your work. What you get in return for these difficulties are the credibility and visibility of a big house, and a crew of smart and professional people to help you succeed.

If you self-publish, the difficult part will be in finding readers. Getting published is easy, and you’ll have complete control over your work. But you won’t have run the gauntlet of agents and editors, and so no one will know if your work is any good or not. It will be difficult to convince them to give it a try. You will also have to do all the work yourself, or pay someone to do so.

There are many options along the spectrum between those two extremes. The best way to publish your book is the way that works for you. Like me, it may even be a different way for each book! May you find success in one or the other, or in the many options that land somewhere in between.


David Walton is the author of the newly released novel SUPERPOSITION, a quantum physics murder mystery with the same mind-bending, breathless action as films like INCEPTION and MINORITY REPORT. His other works include the Philip K. Dick Award-winning TERMINAL MIND, the historical fantasy QUINTESSENCE (Tor, 2013) and its sequel, QUINTESSENCE SKY. He’s also a Lockheed Martin engineer and the father of seven children. You can read about his books and life at


  1. Thanks for this post, David. I will check out your books.

    I have a question. I myself am going to self-publish, mostly for fun and curiosity. I have two short stories on a site, and they only sold one copy each. Which is fine, I really don’t expect much, it is mostly a hobby for me. In fact, I am pretty loose about design, font, etc. It really sort of doesn’t matter to me.

    However, one thing does matter to me…proofreading.

    Can you recommend either a piece of software or a service that does proofreading for a reasonable amount of money? Of course, I honestly believe proofreaders should be paid well; unfortunately, money is currently tight. The short stories I could take of myself, but I have a novel that I really should have proofread before posting.

    Beth, if you have any info as well on this, I would love to hear it. I came to your blog after reading your story “From the Ashes” over at Daily Science Fiction. I enjoyed it very much, although — and I’m sure you can understand this — it was depressing, even with the hope (I sometimes find stories of the apocalypse depressing no matter what). Nevertheless, parts of it were poetic.

    • Thanks for dropping by, Steven! I’m glad you enjoyed my story so much.

      I haven’t paid to have a novel proofread, so I can’t recommend any services. My big question is… are you in a critique group? (Pardon the rest of my advice if you are.) I rely heavily on honest feedback from fellow writers, from different people at various stages during the drafting process, to get my novel as smooth as possible before it’s submitted to my editor. I always offer to exchange critiques to be fair.

      I wish you all the best with your work!

    • Steven, Beth’s suggestion is a good one. I have never paid a service to proofread, and frankly, I would be hesitant to do so unless it was recommended by someone I trusted. Becoming part of a critique group, either online, or locally (often such groups meet in local libraries or bookstores, so you could ask there) would be helpful both in improving your writing, and in finding others who would be willing to proofread for spelling and grammar mistakes. I have found the writing group I’ve been involved with to be invaluable, especially early in my career when I had a lot to learn. Best of luck with your writing!

  2. Thanks for replying to my comment Beth and David, I appreciate it.

    I never thought about critique groups. I am not in one, but I will look into that. In particular, the idea of checking out the local library might be a good solution. I have thirty chapters in my book, perhaps I could ask for half that number of people to read a couple chapters and offer a token $5/$10 for the work as a little stipend.

    Thanks for the advice, I will look into doing this. And best of luck to both of you with your writing careers.