It is funny that most people ask me the question: Should I self publish or should I try the traditional publisher? There are other options for publishing your book that just those two options. We’ll explore some of those with this post. I’ll give you my thoughts on each of these, and you can give me your thoughts in the comments.
The Conglomerate Publisher
We like to say “Traditional Publisher” but truthfully traditions are changing and the term doesn’t really fit anymore. And, truth be told, traditional publishing can be divided up. So we’ll talk about the conglomerate publisher. These are the big guys in publishing. Orbit Books, Tor, Del Rey, Bantam, Baen, and Scholastic are just a few examples. And, if you look most of those up you will find a parent corporation they are under. The parent corporation often has a number of press names they use depending on the genre. They employe a ton of editors, copywriters, printers, and basically just a lot of employees that work to publish books.
Advantage: Well they are the big guys. Land a deal with them and you are likely to get exposure in a wide market area. They will handle most of your book’s marketing. They have the ability to print out mass copies. They may offer you a higher advance and royalties too (maybe).
Disadvantage: Getting accepted is hard. Many talented authors spend a lot of time just to get rejected from these guys. Nearly everybody submits to them. You often have to sell off a lot more copies to pay off your advance (they have a higher overhead then any other option). Even if you do get published you tend to find that it takes a long time to get anything going. And, I see a lot of people published by these conglomerates that are still marketing the heck out of their own works. The other HUGE disadvantage is that authors often think getting published by these guys guarantee a hit novel, it doesn’t. Plain and simple these guys can do little to make you any better of a writer and story teller.
The Mid-level Publisher
A lot of sites go straight from Conglomerate to Independent when they talk about types of publishers. But there are a few mid-level publishing companies. These companies may be only big in one genre, or maybe are big in one country. The main difference here is that they tend to publish more books then the independent publisher, but not as many as the conglomerates.
Advantage: They handle the major marketing. They can produce a moderate amount of books at one time. They offer you a good advance and royalties. They tend to have a smaller overhead which means more profit margin and hopefully more money in your pocket.
Disadvantage: Acceptance is still hard. Exposure is not as big, but in the days of the internet and Amazon it is getting much better. There can still be lengthy delays from acceptance to publish date.
The Independent Press
This is often confused with someone who sits in their basement printing books. That is not the case. These are simply smaller companies working to publish books. They tend to specialize is a genre or two. They often only have one or two editors (sometimes more). They often don’t work to make huge profits. Sometimes they are Sole Proprietorships (one owner) or Partnerships. But many are now LLC, LLP, or even incorporating.
Advantages: Acceptance times are often faster. They are far more approachable. They will market your book as well. And, with the internet as big as it is. They are often on the virtual shelves of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and their own private stores. They often pay lower advances but higher royalties (though not always). It often takes less sales to “burn off” the advance and start earning royalties. They are in the business of getting good writers out to the readers that other presses are simply over looking. But, you will find more and more authors are going with smaller presses to get their voice heard. First, you still have to market your book no matter what way you go about this. Here you get a little help. Plus, even if your Novel is rejected. The smaller presses are far more likely to tell you why. Giving you a chance to fix the mistake and try again.
Disadvantage: They simply aren’t the big guys. Most don’t stock book shelves of brick and mortar book stores. But, some do. But with how many books are purchased on Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. It is starting to be irrelevant. Last, many authors worry about using a Independent press simply due to brand recognition factors. But, I frankly never looked at who published a book until I started writing. Most readers don’t care who published it, only how the story is written.
A vanity press is often confused with a Independent Press. But they are vastly different. A vanity press publishes almost every thing they are sent, provided you cut them a check. That’s right. You pay them to publish your book. They offer many of the services other presses offer, editors, marketing, ect. But you have to pay for it. They slap a publishers name on it and sell it. They came is to play when self publishing was hard, and carried a much more negative image then it does today.
Advantages: Frankly it is hard for me to think of any. Money should always flow in the direction of the author. I suppose if you wanted to self publish, but didn’t want to let people know you did it. This is the way. But why?
Disadvantages: It’s a rip off. Frankly they over charge for just about everything. You may as well hire a good independent editor, and publish it yourself. Or better yet, give a few of these Independent Publishers a shot and not have to pay a dime.
This is just as it sounds you self publish your works. You pay for the cover art (or make it yourself), you solely market, you format it on Createspace, KDP, or where ever. You are the publisher of your own book.
Advantages: No middleman to work with. You get final say on everything. You do it all. You are guaranteed to get published.
Disadvantages: You do it all. Self publishing is the most underestimated form of publishing. It is by far the most work. You have to pay for an editor (and you really need to do that if you plan to self publish and maybe even if you plan to use a different method). Sure you could just take your story, look it over and then throw it together on KDP and tell you friends to go buy it. But, is that really getting published? Or just perpetuating the stereo type that nothing good is ever self published? Of everything I mentioned here, self publishing is the hardest.
You can see there are a lot of options, you can choose what works for you. I strongly recommend that you look at them all. I think Independent Presses give you the best balance between self publishing and “traditional” publishing. That is just my opinion though. Perhaps in another post I’ll highlight a few independent presses that specialize in certain genres. If you know of one, visit the contact page and let me know.