What Is Co-publishing

Glossary > Co-publishing

💬 Definition of Co-publishing:

Co-publishing is an agreement where an author and a (usually small) publisher share a book's publication costs and profits. To get that book printed, both parties have to invest in the publishing process, which means upfront costs for the author too. Co-publishing can happen for any kind of book, but it's more common in poetry and experimental fiction.

Related questions about co-publishing:

What is the difference between co-publishing, self-publishing, and traditional publishing?

There are three ways in which an author can publish their book: traditional publishing, self-publishing, and co-publishing. The third one is a bit of both:

Traditional publishing:

  • No upfront costs for the author.
  • The writer gets an advance against royalties to help them get started.
  • The author gets a smaller share of the profit from the books sold. They have to split the royalties with their publisher.
  • It can be challenging to land an agent who will get a book traditionally published.
  • Authors get little to no say in how their book should be.


  • Upfront costs for the author (editing, design, marketing).
  • Authors get to keep a more significant share of the royalties.
  • The book can get published whenever the author feels ready.
  • The book will be exactly how the author wishes it to be.


  • The author and the publisher are partners; they share the costs, profits, and risks.
  • A small publisher may not be able to offer an advance against royalties, but it can provide editing and design services and publishing expertise.

How to find a partner for co-publishing?

Authors have to think of co-publishers as investors. A professional co-publisher is able to explain the author's contribution and their own, as well as the royalty split. Because of this, a co-publisher must show significant interest in a book before publishing it. If an author finds someone who accepts any manuscript, they should consider it as a red flag.

What should you do to avoid unprofessional publishers?

First of all, do your research. See what other authors say about the publishers you have on your shortlist. Another way to check them out is to see what marketing and distribution services they provide. Also, a professional publisher knows business and can be flexible regarding investments and risks, so they'll understand your demands (as long as they're reasonable). To avoid losing your copyrights, add a time limit to your contract or a buy-out option that allows you to recover your rights after the publisher stops being your partner.

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