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Posts Tagged ‘traditional publishing’

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Traditional Publishing or Self-Publishing?

Much has been written as to how to get a traditional publisher, or why you would want to self publish.  Here are the reasons as I see them.

TRADITIONAL:
* No money up front
* Less time and learning commitment
* Small royalties and none until advance is recovered by publisher
* Loss of control over final product - they bought your book and can make it into anything they want it to be
* Little say in the design of the cover or interior
* Ego of getting traditionally published
* Your book will come and go within 6 months unless it hits it big and you can’t do anything about it
* Other versions (audio, e-book, foreign rights, first serial rights, etc.) may or may not be worked by the publisher (although they will be contracted for)
* author is often contractually obligated to certain marketing activities

SELF PUBLISHING:
* Steeper learning curve - but you can pay for activities you don’t know how to do (editing, design, typesetting, marketing, print quotes)
* Author/publisher responsible for total costs - you are now in business for yourself
* You get to make all editorial and design decisions - as well as all business decisions - YOU control the process
* Your book will be in print much sooner - typical traditional time frame is 18-24 months from beginning of negotiations
* You get to decide how the book will be marketed and to whom, when and for how long
* The book can continue to be promoted and marketed for years increasing revenues as it gets "legs" and requires less hand-holding and marketing
* You get to keep all revenues - no royalties to deal with
* You see all sales reports - no guessing if you are being paid correctly
* If you like the business and want to write more books, the process becomes easier and easier - and your business framework is already set-up allowing a more streamlined operation with less cost and more profit

As to which is a better decision. There is a place for both, but with over 500,000 new books being published each year - and less than half of them through traditional publishing houses, you can see which way the pendulum is swinging. The traditional houses are taking less and less risk with unknown authors - if you don’t already have a strong "platform" - a celebrity, sports figure, entertainer, well known Dr. etc. - you have little chance of being traditionally published - there are exceptions, but they are becoming rarer.

The ironic part is, IF you have that strong platform, you really need the traditional publisher less than the unknown person! More and more speakers and celebrities are self-publishing because you can hire everything done on the front end, and keep all the revenues on the back end.

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Have I been Subsidy Published?

The "accepted" key to deciding on the publishing "model" is: who owns the ISBN?

If you own it and pay for some help in doing your own publishing, then the company or people who help you are thought of as coaches - then you get all the profits and pay all the bills.

If someone else owns the ISBN’s - it is their publisher prefix - AND you pay them to do some package of services, then they are defined as a subsidy house. They are listed as the publisher of record and control your book AND pay you royalties of some sort. 

Some are better than others, but realize if it isn’t your own ISBN block, then someone else has published your work and if you participate in the cost of doing that (production, marketing, etc.), then you have been subsidy published. If someone else owns the ISBN and you haven’t participated in the cost of being published, then you are "traditionally" published.

It really is that simple. No matter how many flowery words you put around it, there are only three ways to be published:

  • Traditional (they own the ISBN and you don’t pay them and you get royalties),
  • Self (you own the ISBN, pay all the bills and keep all the profits) and
  • Subsidy (they own the ISBN, you pay some participation in the costs and they pay you royalties).

Everyone falls into one of those categories. From there, the actual operational implementation of all three varies widely. You need to very carefully analyze what you are getting from your invested dollars.

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