Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You Wrote a Damn Good Book. Now What?

Do you self publish or go the route of traditional publishing.

I've read a lot of stuff over the years about self-publishing versus "traditional" publishing and, depending on what I've read and where I've read it, I can see pros and con arguments for either method. Mind you, I am not talking about "vanity press" here. Self-publishing does include vanity press, but I am referring specifically to POD (print-on-demand or publish-on-demand). Vanity press involves paying a company to print 500 or more copies for you to stock in your house. They are not involved in distribution and promotion.

POD, on the other hand, is a process by which you upload your manuscript to one of many online companies and have it on hand for ordering. Note that these companies print copies on demand. Some charge a setup fee for this service, while others (like Lulu.com and CreateSpace.com) are free.

This sounds easy. Right? Not so fast. It’s difficult to distribute your self-publish book to bookstores. They usually are snobs about self-publishing. On the other hand, with traditional publishing, while the publisher picks up your book, most likely they won't promote it.

There is no denying the prestige of having your book published by an established publisher. But, while having a known publisher provide some prestige, some writers prefer to have total control over their novel.

Whichever trajectory you decide to follow, the following are some examples of the advantages and disadvantages of either route:

Advantages of Self-Publishing reference

• You control the cover, marketing, content, editing, and price

• Near instant publication

• You retain the rights of the content after publication

• Most likely you will make more money per book

• Anyone can publish

Disadvantages of Self-Publishing

• Greater potential to publish substandard books

• No free professional editing, formatting, or cover art

• A stigma attached with self-publishing

• Less than 10% of current book market

• The average self-published book is likely to sell no more than 250 copies

Advantages of Traditional Publishing

• Marketing power

• Wide distribution

• Advance could be very substantial

• They edit, format, and do the cover art

Disadvantages of Traditional Publishing

• Difficult to break into

• Don’t involve you in many of the decision about your book

• Measly royalty rates, between 6% and 25%

• Six to eighteen months before your book sees the light of day

• Since they don’t use their marketing power effectively, you still have to go and promote your own book

• They pay royalties twice a year

I would be interested in hearing your experiences, opinion, or otherwise gripe about publishing in general.


Michael N. Marcus said...

You seem confused, and may confuse others.

>>Self-publishing does include vanity press, but I am referring specifically to POD (print-on-demand or publish-on-demand).<<

Most vanity publishers use POD today.

There is no such thing as publish-on-demand. Printing (on demand) can take seconds, and is part of publishing--which can take months or years.

The publishing process doesn't start every time someone orders a book.

>>Vanity press involves paying a company to print 500 or more copies for you to stock in your house.<<

That was true in the last century, but most vanity presses (now called self-publishing companies) use POD and don't ship hundreds of books unless the author wants them.

>>They are not involved in distribution and promotion.<<

Some are.

Michael N. Marcus
-- http://www.BookMakingBlog.blogspot.com
-- Independent Self-Publishers Alliance, http://www.independentselfpublishers.org
-- "Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don't be a Victim of a Vanity Press," http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661742
-- "Get the Most out of a Self-Publishing Company," http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661777
-- "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)," http://www.amazon.com/dp/0981661750

Henya said...

Thanks for pointing this out to me. I will look into it again.

Cheryl said...

Yeah, the market's going crazy. Someone said that while in the past, editors and agents culled the slush, now readers have to do it. That's because so many people are publishing themselves, whether or not their writing is professional or whether or not they get edited. There are many venues for self-publishers to get their books out there in this electronic age, but most of them make money off the authors. Not the sale of the authors' books.

Margo Kelly said...

I'm working on the "traditional" route. It's tricky, time consuming, and a trial of my patience... but that's what I've chosen! EEK.

Hang in there!

Henya said...

Cheryl, I agree with you. I'm going to try the "normal" course first. Somehow, self publishing has a stigma attached to it. Not a good way for an author to begin.

Henya said...

Margo, you are right ... patience is the key word. And I have lots of it.

Thanks for looking in on me.