Recently, I have encountered a lot of writers asking about whether to go through with traditional publishing or if they should self-publish. On top of that, I myself have been wondering the same thing. So, I have done some research, and here is what I found out.
When it comes to traditional publishing, there is a step-by-step process you MUST go through. It is lengthy and most of the time stressful, but for most authors, it is worth it. In order to publish, you must first have a complete manuscript. YES, THAT DOES MEAN EDITED. It does not have to be absolutely perfection, but think about it, if you are sending off your book to a big publishing house, wouldn’t you want it to be almost perfect? I know I would, which is why I am actually proof-reading my own book this summer, After your manuscript is done, you will have to build up two things:
- A Query Letter
- A Synopsis
Each of these should only be one page, unless the agent you plan on sending it to requires something specific. That leads me to the third thing you are going to need: an agent. Here’s why.
- A literary agent’s top job is to find an editor who likes your book enough to buy it.
- Reputable literary agents have a wide network of contacts and relationships with acquisition editors at publishing houses.
- They know what the editors are looking for, and they’re experts at sending your submissions to the right people.
- Because editors know that submissions by literary agents have already made it through a stringent screening process, agented submissions usually go to the top of the pile.
So, having a literary agent should be one of your top priorities. After you go through all of this, you then trust that your agent sends your book to the correct publishing house, where an editor decides on whether to approve or reject it. Now, if for some reason you cannot get an agent, you can simply submit your work directly to the publishing house. Although, do not complain when it takes FOREVER to hear word back from the editor. Like I mentioned in the last bullet point, work handed in by an agent goes to the top of the pile!
If you are happily accepted by the publishing house, you will then go through a series of negotiations involving the contract, royalties, etc…But, if you are rejected, you will have to try a different publishing house. Obviously, there are some HUGE perks to being traditionally published: they will distribute your book around the world depending on it’s popularity. But, it’s no secret that the publishing process can take years. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I did say YEARS, not months, but YEARS.
The reasons why so self-publishing has become popular are three simple facts:
- Ebooks- self-publishing tends to only publish to ebooks, which are becoming quite the trend. Everywhere, you now see iPads, iPhones, Nooks, and Kindles, all of which support digital reading. Most self-publishing services will distribute to all of these for a fee, making self-publishing very likable.
- Choice- You pretty much get to choose everything. You basically become the publisher in the self-publishing process. A lot of authors love this because the book truly becomes their own; own artwork, own text styles, everything.
- Time- Self-publishing is the way to go if your short on time. Like I said previously, everything is in your control. You set the release date.
Now that I’ve pointed these three facts or “Pros” out to you, I would like to discuss something that affects us all: MONEY. Self-publishing is money, money, money, and if you aren’t making money back from your book revenue, then you pretty much wasted thousands of dollars down the drain. Now, not all publishing services are like that. I know for a fact that a few, such as Lulu’s, are under 1,000 UNLESS you do crazy bindings and need the editing services. For getting your book edited, it costs a lot out of your pocket. You would be better off by just finding people you can trust to read through your work, give you tips, and help with grammatical errors/structure.
The last thing I would like to discuss, which personally I am looking into BIG TIME is hybrid publishing.
Hybrid publishing is when you self-publish your book and then go out and get it traditionally published, For me, this is awesome because you can use the statistics from your profit as a self-published author to help gain recognition with publishing houses.
“Hybrid is the way forward,” said Penn, “I’m a fan of publishers who want to be creative and do exciting things, and there are lots of things I’d like to do, so I think hybrid is the best way, allowing authors to do some projects with publishers and others that they self-publish.” [Forbes.com]
So, you may ask yourself, what exactly is hybrid publishing? Hybrid publishing is when an author has already self-published, uses the sale statistics to find a publishing house, keeps the rights to their ebooks, and signs a “print-book” only contract with the publishing house.
For example: Someone self-publishes two books, which are part of a trilogy, and decides that they need more recognition. So, they get an agent and send off the final manuscript for the third book, including their sale statistics from the first two, and sends it off to a publishing house. Then, they will have both self-published and traditionally published.
Sum It Up
There are advantages and disadvantages to everything that is available to an author, but it is always going to be the author’s choice in the end. I recommend RESEARCH! In order to get your book out there, you need to understand how to build a platform before you ever even choose between all the different publishing options. I have attached some links on traditional publishing, self-publishing, and hybrid publishing. I hope you read them and do your research. If you have any further questions, comment below.
Jinapher J. Hoffman