Whether you’re trying to snag a traditional publisher or have decided to go solo with self-publishing, there are many ways to get your book out there. And with so many ways, it’s important to know which one is right for you and your story.
The Traditional Publisher
It’s no secret that trying to be traditionally published by one of the major 5 (or 4, depending on who you talk to) publishers can be daunting. It’s a journey full of rejection letters, pain, suffering…but if you can get that one yes, I bet it’s the best feeling in the world.
So, traditional publishers (there are indie traditional publishers but we’ll get to those later) usually have literary agents submit manuscripts they think have the potential to sell very well. Before you can see one of the Big 5, you have to land an agent first which means more query letters and rejections until you find the right one. Then this agent is supposed to put your work in front of the big boys.
If accepted, you’ll have to go through their process of editing, rewrites, and whatever else that publisher wants you to do before your book is ready to be sold in stores. From what I’ve heard, it could take 2 to 3 years from the time you sign your contract to when it’s published. One of the great things about traditional publication is the marketing they do for you, which you certainly don’t get on the self-published route. But…you kind of have to sell your soul to get that.
The Indie Publisher
Indie publishing companies matter too! In fact, there are many authors who publish with indie partners because they’re a little easier to get into. Some accept unsolicited material which means you’re not required to have an agent and can submit your work yourself. This effectively cuts out the middle man which means more money for you and also a more personalized message.
Many indie publishers function like traditional publishers although they may not pay advances for your work or the advance may be minimal. However, you still get your share of the royalties and they do help with marketing. It may not be up to the capacity of how the Big 5 market, but still, it’s to their own following.
However, with this in mind, indie publishers tend to be small and therefore can’t take in every book that slides across their desk. They usually publish a lower amount of books over the year than most. With the smaller ones, I’ve seen anywhere from 1 to 5 books per year. Others will publish more.
You’ll go through a similar process of signing contracts, editing, development, proofreading, distribution, and marketing. However, the marketing will be to a smaller extent. Still, not a bad deal, but it’ll probably take a year or two before your book comes out. That gives you plenty of time to update your followers!
The Hybrid Publisher
Not to be confused with vanity publishers, these guys are somewhere in between traditional and vanity. Usually, they accept a greater amount of people – but for a price. They have fees associated with their publishing process, but at a discounted price since their editors and designers work in-house. These are up-front costs the author pays to have their books edited, covers designed, for distribution, and if they offer marketing solutions.
This is the kind of publisher for people who don’t want to self-publish, but want help with editing and getting their book out there at a lower cost. Some do offer marketing such as product placement on their website and social media accounts, press releases, book trailers, and interviews. Overall, it’s not a bad deal, but you would have to put your money first.
From some of the hybrid publishers I’ve seen around, many won’t take any cut of the royalties until you’ve made your investment back. And even after that, they take a minimal share per book sold.
The Vanity Publisher
Vanity publishers are a step below hybrid publishers in my opinion. While they do allow the author to have more control over their work like hybrid publishers, it’s on the author to really sell their book. These types of publishers are solely in the publishing business – not the marketing business.
The author puts their money up front and then its completely up to them to recuperate their costs for the book. It’s easy to have your book selected by a vanity publisher, but that’s because the author is the main audience, not the general public. They make money off the author paying them to have their book published and that’s about it. Unless you’re extremely good with marketing and have a large following, it may be better to try to get in with an indie publisher.
This is probably the easiest way to keep your own rights and have complete creative control over. However, there’s little quality control. This means, unless you pay for your own professional editor, designer, and whoever else for your story, you’re it. All the editing, interior and exterior format, book cover, and marketing is something you’ll have to do on your own.
Each of these publishing types have their pros and cons. It all depends on what works for you. In the end, it’s about looking at your end goal. Are you in it for the money? The fun of writing? The thought of having your work in front of thousands of eyes? Or all or none of the above? Whatever drives you may influence which publishing style you want to go with.
Even after everything is said and done, remember to have fun. Happy writing!