What are the differences between Traditional publishing and self publishing? Many! Careful consideration is required to weigh the pros and cons of each method. Even more reflection is necessary for an author to finally reach the “right” decision for publication of their work.Traditional publishing is a lengthy process of courtship between author, agent, and publisher. First the author writes the manuscript. They then try to get an agent which is a monumental task in and of itself. Once represented the author writes a query or a proposal and submits it to a publishing house through the procured agent. The publishing house then either accepts or rejects the author’s work. If accepted the publishing house buys the rights to the work from the writer and pays an advance on royalties. The publishing house decides when to publish the book, zealously edits the content, selects the cover design, prints the predicted number they think will sell, and then distributes the book to its contracted book sellers. Once the book is distributed the publisher may or may not actively promote the book. The total sales dictate the percentage royalty the author earns. Many authors are surprised to discover that once the book is distributed the author is expected to promote at their own expense. If a book does not sell as well as expected in the first 120 days, some publishing houses require the author to return their advance. However, if successful you could be the next Stephen King or John Gresham (but even they have a scrapbook with rejection letters from publishers who are now kicking themselves for their hastiness).If the author’s query is refused they are then free to take it to another publisher. The reality of the query process is that a writer with a good, clean, well written and well edited manuscript will make the rounds at many different publishing houses before they are successful. The process can take years and requires incredible persistence as each publisher can take up to six months to generate a letter of rejection.Self publishing is often seen as the red-headed step-child of the literary world. There is a stigma associated with self publishing in some circles; however, for many budding authors it is their saving grace. Once in print and on the bookseller’s shelf, the average reader cannot discern a self published book from one that has been traditionally published.When pursuing self publishing, the author becomes their own publisher. The author must not only write the book but must also pay for the cover design, the editing, the printing, the advertising, and the distribution as well. They must be prepared to market, fill orders, and run their own public relations campaign, too. The author owns their work outright and if an aggressive promoter can sell their way to the best seller list with a good sales strategy that includes a powerful website to boost and support sales. The good news is that the author can have the book in their hands in 6 months from a completed manuscript as opposed to traditional publishing which takes more than a year!Speed does have a high cost! Depending on the self-publishing company the author selects, it usually costs upwards of $20,000 to self publish. However, you get what you pay for in the process! It is your book, your cover, and your content. There are some drawbacks to self-publishing that go beyond the expensive initial outlay. Publishing and promoting your book will be very time consuming. It requires a unique blend of marketing and business savvy that most authors do not have to start with but quickly become adept in the processes. Most of the work associated with getting a book successfully marketed and in the hands of the public require performing tasks totally unrelated to writing. Finally, the biggest consideration is that many booksellers will not shelve a book that is not nationally distributed, but if you sell enough copies on line then they can’t afford to blacklist you.Decision time to select a publishing method calls for a complete analysis of the goals the author has for publishing and the type of fortitude they have. If you are stubborn, persistent, and have a stiff upper lip that is resistant to rejection, then traditional publishing might be the path for you to pursue. If you are pressed for time, a self-starter, highly organized, and have a cash reserve then self publishing could be your course to follow. Each publishing method has its merits and shortcomings but with careful thought and analysis authors can make a confident choice as they follow their publishing dreams.Work Cited: Tebbel, John. A History of Book Publishing in the United States, 4 vols. (1978).
We’re excited that you want to become a published author, and we’re dedicated to help you reach that goal. The road to publication can be bumpy, indirect, and confusing. Many writers find that they need a guide. That’s why we’re writing these columns: to give you vital information that you will need and to show you the best routes, short cuts, and approaches to smooth your way.The competition to get books published is fierce.It seems as if everyone wants to write and publish a book. To increase your odds of making the cut, we’ll be providing you with information we’ve learned throughout our careers working in the book business, and added insights provided by top experts. From the get-go, we want you to understand what’s involved in getting your book published, what you’re getting into, and precisely what you have to do.The world of books is magical and mysterious. Publishing is a special universe. When you try to move inside and work your way through the publishing process, it can be daunting. Newcomers can easily get lost, swallowed up, and discouraged. Seasoned authors can grow frustrated, angry, and disillusioned. Writers at all levels, from unpublished novices to successful veterans, need help finding their way. That’s why we’re here, to show you what to do.For starters, understand that the publishing industry is complex and can be baffling. It’s riddled with rules, most of which are unwritten and difficult to decode. The rules were made by publishers, and guess whom they benefit? Why, publishers, of course. The rules give publishers the upper hand.The publishing industry is filled with insiders: mainly editors, literary agents, booksellers, and publishing company personnel. Most others, including writers, are kept out.Publishing insiders speak their own language.Outsiders often feel lost. Many of the rules are inside secrets that are based on old traditions and protocols. The rules may differ from agent to agent, editor to editor, and publisher to publisher. Plus, they can change instantly at the drop of a corporate memo or a bigwig’s whim.Publishing is a mysterious world that constantly changes. It follows and reacts to the media, the current trends, and the news. Recently, the industry has gone through a major consolidation that has left it with a handful of major publishers and thousands of smaller-sized firms. Due to corporate takeovers and consolidation, this industry, which was once devoted to the art of fine writing, now primarily worships the bottom line.As an industry, publishing is in mortal combat for consumer dollars with the makers of motion pictures, radio, television, video games, computers, recorded music, sporting events, and others. It’s also in the clutches of a small group of mega booksellers who have the market clout to influence, if not dictate, what books are published. To make matters worse, publishing operates under an archaic system under which booksellers may return unsold books for full refunds.If you hope to be a published writer, it’s crucial for you to know the rules of the game and the layout of the field before you try to play. Without such knowledge, you don’t stand much of a chance. If you want to get your manuscript published, it’s crucial for you to understand as much as possible about those you hope to impress: the publishing establishment and especially editors, agents, and publishing houses.At the least, you should know:Who they arePrecisely what they doExactly what they wantHow you can best fit inPublishing Is a BusinessWhen writers try to sell their books, many start at a disadvantage because they place the book publishing business on a pedestal. They tend to romanticize the industry and approach it with stars in their eyes. Often, they wrap all their hopes in their books, which they see as lofty endeavors that will launch their literary careers and fulfill their dreams.In doing so, they often project qualities on publishing companies that simply don’t exist. They may think that because publishing deals with arts, letters and culture, that the industry operates on a higher plane or its major concern is art and beauty, which certainly isn’t true.Over the next few weeks, we’re going to demystify book publishing and explain how it works. We’re going to pass on to you the cumulative wisdom of top experts in the field, experts who know all the secrets, the ins and outs, and can explain exactly what you must know. This information will give you a decided advantage in getting your book published.