Day 14: The 30-Day Book Launch Challenge

Deciding on the Best Publishing Model for a Cozy Mystery

DAY 14. Week Four: Mon. 11 Dec. to Fri 15 Dec.

What has to be done by the end of this week?

Writing. Use timed writing sessions to work on the manuscript.


  • Decide on the best publishing model for this book.
  • Kindle Select or not Kindle Select?
  • Create a template Kindle eBook document for this book which is pre-formatted.

Website and List Building. Post reviews of the bestselling six titles. One a day. Link to the Kingsumo giveaway with every review. Share everywhere. Use the author hashtag on Twitter – the author might share it with their readers.


Deciding on a Publishing Model

I have already made a few decisions about this cozy mystery series; I want to self-publish each book as an eBook and a print book.

So why did I go down this route when there are so many options?

Traditional publishing can be a great publishing model for genre fiction.

If your goal as a fiction writer is to see your stories in the hands of readers around the world, in print and digital form, in multiple languages, then traditional publishers can be the way to go.

First. Editorial. You get to work with professional editors who help you to create the best version of your story to meet their publishing line. There is no doubt that working with editors makes you a better writer.

Second. Distribution. My romance fiction is currently in print in 23 languages and sold in at least 28 countries that I am aware of.

I didn’t have anything to do with the translations, selling the publishing rights, cover design or promotion and shipping print books around the world. That was all done by HarperCollins.

Although I do receive author copies, sometimes the first time I know that one of my books has been sold, in for example, digital downloads for smartphones in Japan, is when I receive my royalty report. Which is paid in my currency direct to my bank. And I receive a cash advance on royalties when I deliver a book.

This is all done for me, giving me time to write and promote my work.

There are some limitations. With Harlequin, I don’t have any input into the title of my books, the cover design or publication schedule.

And yes, all of the traditional publishers now expect authors to drive the marketing and book launch plan.

Why traditional publishing is not the best publishing model for this series.

Bottom line. Publishing houses are businesses.

Books are ‘products’.

Authors create the products which publishers have to edit, design, curate, print/publish worldwide and then sell to a twindling number of bookstores and libraries etc. Their job is to make a return on this significant investment in time and money so that the business can remain profitable.

I am sorry if that offends those of an artistic temperament, but publishers don’t owe authors a living.

They are loyal to their authors and do their best in difficult market conditions, but if your first and second books do not sell, then an editor can find it hard to persuade the marketing team to commit to taking more. This is a market driven business.

No profit, no business. Same the world over.

The challenge is that they have to make a profit with books at a price point which is commercially viable.

How this impact the books I am writing.

Consider it this way.

If you were pitching your work to a venture capitalist like a literary agent or submission editor, how would you do it? What would you say?

“I am going to work for months and invest hundreds of pounds/dollars to create a series of books which I plan to sell online for 99 cents.”

You would expect them to ask sensible questions such as:

  • How many copies are you going sell in a short time?
  • What it your marketing plan?
  • What is your current social media following and reach under this author brand? How do you plan to reach your readers.

In other words – how can I get a return on my investment in your work.

My answers?

  • My price point is 99 cents because that is the market price for short cozy mysteries [Amazon Kindle Store]. I don’t know how many copies I will sell.
  • Yes, I have a marketing plan and it is rolling out over the next few weeks.
  • Right now I am launching a brand new author brand so I don’t have a social media following for Sophie Brent.

Yes I have a track record as a romance writer, so they know that I can string words together in joined up writing.

But this is a new genre. New brand. New audience. New market. Crazy low price. Will they make a profit? Long term I sincerely hope so. But short term?

I am willing to take that risk and invest in self-publishing this series.

Self-Publishing is not for everyone.

If you want to do this professionally you have to learn how to become a publisher. That means studying every aspect of the publishing process. From manuscript editing through to sales and marketing. This takes serious amounts of time, money and energy.

There is another option.

Many traditional publishers have created digital publishing units which produce eBooks and sometimes print on demand books, but not always.

Random House Digital Imprints

The following Random House “e-originals” imprints are open to submissions:

Alibi specializes in mysteries and thrillers. [Note – Alibi is not accepting unsolicited manuscripts at this time.]

Loveswept wants “passionate, heartfelt romances spanning all genres, from historical to contemporary.”

Hydra focuses on science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

St. Martin’s Digital-First Imprint

St. Martin’s Press is owned by Big Five publisher Macmillan. Swerve, St. Martin’s digital-first division, is interested in all subgenres of romance. Both agented and unagented authors are welcome to submit unpublished manuscripts.

Read more about Swerve’s submission guidelines.

Harper Collins.  Includes Carina and HarperImpulse

Bookouture from Hachette do include a print-on-demand format.

In addition there are numerous romance specific digital first publishers such as Tule

So you don’t have to learn how to become a publisher. But you have to submit your work, agree to deadlines and accept that company’s pricing and publication regime. And that will probably not include a print book.

We are incredibly lucky to have this range of opportunities available to us.

All we have to do is evaluate the options and decide which one works best for a specific book.

Now back to the writing! Have a good one.

PS.  CLICK HERE to find out more about How to Write a Cozy Mystery.