There are seven major publishing formats authors opt for knowing that new ones will be birthed as time evolves: Traditional, Independent, Self, Subsidy, Packager, POD (Print-on-demand), and eBook. POD is also used in the subsidy area, standing for a publish-on-demand format. Each has merits and deficiencies.
Each week we will cover one of these seven players in detail listing pros and cons of each.
Most think of New York when it comes to traditional publishing—university presses come under this umbrella as well as a slew of publishers in other states. They acquire manuscripts; often work with agents and pay royalties. If your book is successful, it could be a great relationship. If your book doesn’t “stick,” meaning that id doesn’t develop a following within six weeks or so, you and your book will most likely be tossed under the bus.
The publishers in this category can be huge: such as Simon & Schuster, Random House, Grand Central (formerly Warner Books), and McGraw Hill; a university press like University of New Mexico Press, Harvard University Press and Chicago University Press; or an intermediate/smaller house, such as Source Books or Adams Media. Many traditional publishers have multiple imprints that are usually specialty publishers.
What sets them apart is that they pay royalties to their authors based on a percentage of book sales. Some pay advances – they can arrange from a few thousand to millions of dollars, depending on topic, author, the author’s platform, celebrity, the negotiating skills of the agent, and sometimes even the whim of the publisher.
What sets them apart is that they pay royalties to their authors based on a percentage of book sales. Some pay advances—they can arrange from a few thousand to millions of dollars, depending on topic, author, the author’s platform, celebrity the negotiating skills of the agent, and sometimes even the whim of the publisher.
Many believe that they have to be published by a name publisher. This is a myth. How many times do you buy a book because of the publisher vs. the topic/content and/or author? Never is the most likely response.
The advantages that come with an affiliation with a traditional publisher include the simple fact that they front all the production costs to get it to market and you don’t. The author doesn’t have to worry about finding cover and interior designers, editors, creating media releases, wholesalers and distributors. Obtaining ISBN numbers, making announcements in Books in Print, copyright registration and all the components of getting your book from your original manuscript to print are taken care of. Some publishers create a book tour and they send your books to all the key reviews. For some authors, being with a publisher is important to their image. For them, it’s prestige. We call it the snob factor.
If your book clicks and sells well, it usually means that your publisher will offer more money for your next book and/or you will be courted by other publishers to come to them. For more money.
The disadvantages match all the advantages in number and add a few more nuggets to the mix. Yes, you don’t have to worry about editors – assuming your editor is in synch with you. ISBNs, Library of Congress numbers, getting listed in Books in Print, but our joint experience has shown that too, too many authors aren’t happy campers.
More authors than not, moan and groan about how much they dislike their covers; the interior design is so-so; the media release really doesn’t have the “pop” it should; there are no books in the bookstores; the marketing/PR department has dozens of their books that they are pitching at the same time as yours; and the length of time to get your manuscript published can range from 15 to 24 months after submission.
Then there’s the money. Publishers pay royalties twice a year based on a six-month timeframe (January-June and July-December) and delay the payment for three months for each period (to September and March). Normally, moneys—your earned royalties—are held back as a reserve in case book stores send books back.
Should you publish traditionally? Yes, if:
You get offered huge money;
You are a star and publishers will be mesmerized by your persona;
You are a bit of a smob and your ego needs it – it’s more important for you to be connected with a “name” publishing house;
You still have to work your tush off (surprise—publishers do very very little for their stable of authors today and many expect their authors to use a major portion of the advance, if any, to underwrite marketing and PR that the author contracts for on his own); and;
You commit to focusing a great deal of your advance on marketing efforts.
If you sign with a publisher, we strongly advise you to make sure you understand how you can terminate your contract if the relationship goes south or ends. Pay attention to the Reversion of Rights clause. Besides having an agent, it’s publishing smart to invest a few hours of your time with an attorney who understands publishing contracts.
from Show Me About Book Publishing