As an author, it is imperative that you understand the different routes of publishing and how they can benefit or limit your writing career. If you want creative control, flexibility, and to keep all of the profits from your book, then self-publishing might be a better route for you. If you want to sell tons of books and gain popularity fairly quickly, then traditional publishing might be a better choice for you. We will discuss the different options that are currently available for new authors. Before attempting any of the below, develop your author platform way in advance to publishing.
Ways to Promote Your Book
Traditional publishing is when the publisher offers the author a contract in order to print, publish, and distribute their book to wholesalers, bookstores, and libraries. The publisher purchases the rights to sell your book and in turn you receive an advance and a royalty check for each book sale. The larger the publisher, the greater the advance. Keep in mind, traditional publishers aren’t as flexible with their contract terms and you may lose some of the creative control over your book. On a positive note, you will gain popularity quickly, you will sell tons of books, and your book will be displayed on various bookshelves and stores across the world. LASTLY, THE AUTHOR PAYS NOTHING!
If you are interested in traditional publishing, it is almost mandatory that you find a literary agent. The best resource to find agents in your particular genre can be found here. Before you solicit agents, make sure that you draft your query letter and synopsis as part of your submission packet. Your query letter should include your pitch, a brief summary of your book, and a description of yourself. Query letters are normally one page long and can become a task within itself. Condensing your 50+page manuscript into a refined one page query, is no easy task. Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript is one of the many guides that are out there to help.
INDEPENDENT AND SMALL PRESS PUBLISHING (also known as indie publishing)
Independent publishing is similar to traditional publishing, but just on a smaller scale. They are not considered one of the five large conglomerates or multinational corporations such as: Random House, HarperCollins, etc and they usually specialize in one or two genres or small markets. They offer contracts and royalties, but depending on the size of the company, an advance might be out of the question. The good thing is… it is easier to get signed with an indie publisher rather than a traditional publisher, but the downside is… that their distribution channels or marketing campaigns aren’t as great plus you won’t have access to the top-notch staff members that the big five have access to. The publisher purchases the rights to sell your book and in turn you receive a royalty check for each book sale. They are more flexible with their contract terms and you don’t lose as much creative control as you would with traditional publishing. BUT AGAIN, THE AUTHOR PAYS NOTHING!
Ways to Grow Your Indie Publishing Company
Under self-publishing there are four models which include: self-publishing, print-on-demand, vanity press, and subsidy press. Please take the time to understand which option is best for you. Even though these options are becoming more popular everyday, libraries and bookstores are skeptical in carrying books that have been self-published. KEEP IN MIND, THE AUTHOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PAYING A FEE – EITHER MOST OF IT OR ALL OF IT!
1. Self-publishing – Self-publishers pay for everything – editing, printing, distribution, marketing, etc. With this route, you have the option of using print-on-demand services OR off-set printing. You can hire a book designer to design the cover and layout of your book, and then send it to a printer for binding and printing. You are then responsible for distributing and marketing your book to either online bookstores like Amazon.com or BN.com or selling your book at book fairs. If you choose POD printing, then places like Createspace and Lightning Source will distribute your book to Amazon.com or BN.com for an additional fee. If you want your book in indie bookstores, then you would need to market and network on your own. Keep in mind, that popular bookstores like Target, Barnes and Noble, Costco, Walmart, etc rarely carry self-published books. With this route, you won’t sell as many books right away, but you obtain creative control. YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING!
2. Vanity press – also known as a book manufacturer, will publish your book for a fee. They will print, publish, and sometimes distribute your book for you, but rarely do they offer any editing or marketing services. Some authors complain that their fees are expensive, also that they don’t offer the assistance that the author needs, and that their work is sub-par. With this route, you are able to obtain all rights to your book and keep the profits from each sale. YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING!
3. Subsidy press – as with a vanity press, they will publish your book for a fee. They will print, publish, and distribute your book for you, and will assist with editing and marketing as well. Some authors complain that their fees are expensive and that their work is sub-par. If you decide on a subsidy press, remember, that they own the rights to your book plus you are paid a royalty as the book sells. YOU PAY FOR SOME!
4. Print-on-demand – POD publishers pretty much take everyone who has the money to pay. They primarily deal with the binding and printing of the book, but for an additional fee, they can assist with the book design and layout. They only print books as customers purchase them (due to high technology printers), which helps new authors save money. The cost per book is more expensive than off-set printing (which requires you to purchase a lot of books all at once), but at least you won’t have a garage full of books that you are unable to sell. Check out Createspace, IngramSpark, LuLu, and Lightning Source for more information. Keep in mind, this route is similar to self-publishing – it is more about which style of printing your prefer. YOU PAY FOR EVERYTHING!
Need more information, check out the Writer’s Market.