Recently, I participated in a social media discussion with authors about which was better: traditional or self publishing?
As the owner of a publishing company and a self published author my answer is neither, both… well, it kinda depends? Honestly there are major trade offs and considerations for both publishing paths.
And ladies and gents, therein lays the greatest frustration with the publishing environment today.
There are so many different publishing strategies these days that authors are going bananas trying to wrap their heads around it all. Let’s carve this into more digestible bites, shall we?
Back in the Good Ole Days…
Way back in the golden age of publishing, authors really only had one option to gain fame, fortune and nationwide distribution, and that was traditional publishing.
Of course there were many more traditional publishers than today. Most of the small and mid-sized agencies have become imprints of the Big 5 traditional publishers (if they survived at all).
In those days, authors had to be discovered like starlets on Hollywood and Vine. That publishing model hasn’t changed much to this day. The Big 5 only need a few hundred good manuscripts each year to turn their profits and they receive several hundred thousand each year to choose from. So it’s very obvious how an aspiring author could pull all their hair out in the attempt to get the attention of a traditional publisher.
Add to that, the typical publisher assumes total control of your project and usually contracts you to between 3% and 10% royalties on sales. That feels like financial molestation to someone who has poured out their soul into a project. These days those imprints of the Big 5 will typically not handle copy-editing or more than the most basic marketing. More frustrating is that if your project doesn’t perform, you could get dropped and be on the hook for expenses.
Self-Publishing Made Everything Better, Right?
With a market of authors screaming for alternatives to the traditional publishing path that only worked for 1% of all authors that took it, the literary marketplace opened up with alternatives galore!
Now you can publish on KDP, Smashwords or LULU.com for free. You could also contract with vendors at every level of your project to get your book into distribution. Or even work with publishing platforms or even boutique publishers like Write On Press.
Now that there are options for every author, there should be no more frustrations, right?
Unfortunately, it seems like there are so many options that some authors are sitting on stacks of manuscripts with no idea how to move forward.
Talent unactualized; drying away in dusty corners until it drifts off in beams of afternoon light, riding on a mild breeze made by the woeful, somber sighs of melancholy authors.
Each one of these new options carries its own set of trade offs and considerations that make it appropriate or inappropriate for any given author. So how do you know what pat is the right one for you?
Seek Aid From an Experienced Guide…
In every other facet of professional life, we find someone to advise and offer direction. What’s more ironic is that most fiction authors will create guides and mentors for their protagonists (sometimes their antagonists, too), but fail to find a guide for themselves.
Just because you are an incredible writer does not make you an adept publisher. Find someone with expertise in the publishing industry to give you direction. The direction you receive should not be general, but tailored to your needs, your project(s) and/or your literary career.
Try doing a search for publishing consultants or literary consultants. Find a professional that can analyze your needs and help you create a strategy that will use your talents, resources and available budget in a way that will successfully get your project to completion and into the marketplace.
Yes, Write On Press does offer publishing consultations. Yes, services are reasonably priced and worth every penny, but that’s not the point.
The point is that if you are confused about how to move your project forward, visit the services page and schedule an appointment or email Author Service to ask questions about working with a publishing consultant.
Stop stacking up unpublished works of genius! Get some help and relieve the frustrations of modern publishing!
Your friendly neighborhood publisher,
Connect via email or digital meeting platform (i.e. zoom, gotomeeting, etc.).
Feel free to comment or ask questions below, or discuss your past publishing plan(s).
Until next time, keep writing!
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