Debate: To engage in argument or discussion on a public topic. It’s alive in every organization, group of people, or industry in existence today – fashion, sports, news, manufacturing, scientific development and research, teaching, family dinners - and the list could go on. In the writer’s world, the big debate is traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. For a new author, choosing between the two is a source of great anxiety and fear of taking the wrong path. Here I offer a few similarities and differences between the two, as well as resources for more information. When you’re ready to publish, research your options and the publishing houses that fit your niche.
Traditional and Self-publishing – Similarities
1) Develop an author platform long before you are ready to publish your book. It takes time to build a following and make your name and face recognizable. For the best information on building your platform, read posts by Kristen Lamb , the social media expert, and download Joanna Penn’s Author 2.0 Blueprint, it’s free and gives you all the reason why and answers to how to build your platform. We’re talking about a blog, social media networking and in-person events to make yourself known.
2) Promotion and Marketing are now the responsibility of the author, no matter which path to publishing you take. You will not only provide your readers great content in your blog, but you will consider videos, podcasting, seminars or workshops, speaking engagements at indie bookstores or libraries. Yes, for we introverts, it will be tough the first few times, but after that it will feel very natural. Read this for more information.
3) Research, research, research! You’ll need an agent/editor for a professional assessment of your finished work. Writer’s Market and Guide to Literary Agents are the best resources to find pros that fit your niche. You must be willing to trust their advice on promotion, re-writes, title and cover. The blogs at these sites hold a wealth of information on writing and publication.
Traditional publishing and Self-publishing – Differences
1) Time factor – If you take the road to traditional publishing, realize you may have to send queries to many publishers before one picks it up. Once your manuscript has been purchased, it could take well more than a year to see your book on a bookstore shelf. The path to self-publishing is much shorter. You will still need to pass your book through the hands of an editor, but from the time you’ve found an editor until it’s published could be just a matter of a few months.
2) Money factor – A traditional publisher will offer a new author a small advance based on how many books they expect to sell. If the book sells well, royalties will be paid periodically to the author. Blogger and editorial assistant, Moonrat, has a great article explaining advances and royalties. They will fund the cost of editing, copying, cover design, etc. In addition to your promotion of the book, the resources of a publishing house will extend the promotion even further. As a self-publisher, you will be responsible for arranging cover design, formatting, editing, printing, advertising, distribution (if you choose to have books delivered to bookstores). Professional editing, cover design and distribution as an e-book, can cost approximately $1,000+. You can forgo the professional elements and self-publish for practically no cost, not a recommended idea. Print on demand is an option that will appeal to those who don’t have an e-reader. You also may have a number of books printed that you can sell to bookstores yourself, or use some as giveaways for promotional purposes. For more information on one of the best self-publishing sites, click here.
3) Control factor – You will need to decide how much control you need over the publishing process and whether you have the time and the capability to do the work yourself. A publishing house will have control of the advertising, distribution, title and cover design of your book. You will have to negotiate a contract concerning your rights on several topics. Self-publishing gives you control of all aspects of the publishing process. You find a cover artist and have final say in choosing the design, an editor and you can choose to follow his advice or not, and an outlet from which to sell your books, such as Amazon, Smashwords, etc. You will do the advertising and promotion. Read best-selling author, J.A. Konrath’s post on this subject here.
Good luck to all, whichever road you take to your publishing dream!
Which path do you think is right for you and why? Do you have another good resource for information to offer our readers?