So, how does it feel? You have worked your manuscript through the editing process – red lines and mark ups. It is a hard, often lonely road, but you’ve made it. Again, congratulations. Now, it’s time to determine your publishing options. The question is whether it will be a traditional publisher, a publishing service, or self-publishing?
Each of these routes has its Pros and Cons, its rewards and pitfalls. The most important thing at this point is knowing what you want. Why are you writing in the first place? One of my favorite topics, strategic planning, but that is for another post…
Traditional Publishers: Fame and fortune painted in your eyes? This route typically starts with a query letter to a literary agent who will represent you with a publishing house, presumably leveraging their acquaintance with the publishing houses to get your manuscript seen. If you have chosen to pursue this route, do a Google search. There are some traditional publishers that accept direct submission. You should be aware, however, that this route offers a steep challenge.
Tara K. Harper writes an interesting article about the likelihood of being published. In short, 3 out of 10,000 manuscripts are reported published by a traditional publisher. As I understand it the publishing house will only provide about 3 months of marketing, but will probably get your book placed in brick and mortar bookstores. The cost – a portion of your royalties…
Publishing Services: This method involves hiring a professional publishing service, but you are still considered an indie author. The biggest benefit is that the service will (should) manage all of your business logistics: manuscript formatting, cover design, channel placement/distribution, and book orders. Some may even offer some marketing.
I am very thankful for Friesen Press. I was treated well and learned a lot from them about the business hidden behind being an author. My debut book, The Legend of Jerrod, won two awards and was ranked about 180,000 with Amazon. With the exception of marketing (which I was disappointed with), everything they told me was “right on the money”. I retained all rights to my book and received the royalties as they promised while they did all of the posting logistics; retaining all rights was the biggest issue for me. It was a good way to break into the business side of being an indie author (non-traditional publishing).
That said, be careful about your publishing services. When I started selecting my first publisher I didn’t know too many authors. The one I knew best told me she had paid twice what Friesen was requesting, and she had signed the rights to her book and to any movie away for 4 years. Ouch! One of the publishing services that I considered for Amanda’s Quest required me to use its editor if they were going to published the manuscript, which included some marketing. If I paid for the publishing it would have cost the same amount…. hmm?
I discovered some local favorite publishing services who would have taken some of the business burdens off my back, but they were 3 to 4 times as expensive as the true, self-publishing route.
True Self-Publishing: As I have gained experience I have met some wonderful, mutually supporting authors and mentors. I am a member of three author groups: FSFNet.com (fantasy & sci-fi authors), World Literary Cafe, and High Sierra Writer; thank you all. Based on their experience and encouragement, I am about to jump into the deep end without flotation devices.
I selected Streetlight Graphics to format Amanda’s Quest into the various formats required by the distribution channels. Streetlight was recommended by a number of authors, appears on the title pages of numerous books, and offers pricing and payment plans that were as reasonable as any others I could find. I have been very happy with their service.
The Pro to this route of publishing is that the royalties and copyrights are all mine, and the price is much less. Using Ingram as one of my distribution channels may enable me to be in brick and mortar book stores, if I chose to pursue that path. The Cons, I am taking on all the business logistics.
Recommendation: The route to publishing you select must optimize your goals. If you want to be in brick and mortar book stores or traditional publishing is the only way to be eligible for an author group, then pursue a traditional publisher. If you want to publish quickly and retain control all of your copyright decision, then pursue either a publishing service or self-publishing. Chosing between these two options depends on cost/royalties and the amount of business transactions you want to manage.
Keep in mind, in May 2014 The Wire – News from the Atlantic reported that Amazon’s share of all new books purchased was 41 percent. Amazon also held 65 percent of all new online books (in both print and digital) and 67 percent of the e-book market. Additionally, in July 2014 The Daily Dot reported that 2013 eBook sales surpassed the number of books sold in brick and mortar book stores, although the total revenue due to price disparities were still less.