- Traditional publishing - send out query letters, either unsolicited to publishers or to agents until you land an agent and let them work with you. This is powerful, but hard to break into and we receive pretty limited success until we get a name out there. In my opinion, this may be "old school" and while I, just like anyone else, would love to have Del Rey or Tor on my book, it may be fading in importance as more and more means appear for an author to spread the word
- E-publishing - Wow. This is easy. Either as an Ebook or even for the Amazon Kindle. You can make your own ebooks or work with an ebook publisher or have someone make the ebook for you. You could have an ebook out on the web today! (assuming you have it written)
- Subsidy (Vanity) Press - You pay someone to print a bunch of copies of your book and then you market them yourself. There is a stigma with this sort of publication, but it is still used. Of course the benefit here is that you control every aspect of the story and what happens to the characters and all of that. Full creative control.
- Print-on-demand (POD) - Similar to Vanity publishing, but you only pay for the set up and then the publisher prints the books as they sell so you aren't stuck with two thousand unsold copies of your book. Here again you retain full creative control and many of these throw in an ebook version as well as the print-on-demand ability. The softcover books are typically a little expensive as compared to a mass market paperback.
- Lulu.com - This one has its own version of print on demand where you can print a single book for a price. Pretty cool for family genealogies and stuff like that, or if your kids want to write a book, see it in print, and give their friends a handful of copies, then this works great!
Now, we all could probably come up with examples from each of these types of publications where people gained a large readership or made lots of money. The key is not luck...it's writing something people want to read. If getting readers is your goal, then you have to write something readers will enjoy and share with others. If it is good, then it will spread. If your goal is just to publish, then what are you waiting for...you can do it today. If you want readers, then write and write well. The important thing though...is to write!