I was thirteen when I first started looking at how to get published. I was sixteen when I decided I was serious, that "someday" was now, and that I was going to get down to business. From that time on I've spent hours upon hours researching the publishing industry, the various ways one could go about publishing, and what each route entails. It was enough to make my head spin at first!
I truly believe self-publishing is a great option for many people. But even within the self-publishing realm there's so many different ways to go, and what works for one person might not be the best choice for another. Or maybe you aren't wanting to be an indie author at all--maybe traditional publishing is more up your alley. So how many ways are there to go about publishing? Let's have a quick overview:
- Traditional Publishing: Definitely the longest-standing route of publication, traditional publishing means you as an author send out submissions to various agents or publishers until one of them likes your work and accepts you, signing you on for a book deal.
- Vanity Press Self-Publishing: A vanity press, also known as a subsidy publisher, is a publishing house in which the author has to pay to get their book printed. This route was used a lot as an option to traditional publishing before other ways became more well known, especially for people who just wanted a printed book for family and friends.
- Hybrid Publishing: A rather new term and idea, this is a middle-of-the-road option. The phrase can be used for various modes of publishing but the basic idea is that the author works with a press to publish a book--it's basically a partnership, rather than the publisher being in control (Traditional) but with the author still getting a lot of assistance from the publisher. (Which leads to another name for this type-- assisted publishing). Often in this case an author will submit their novel to a publishing company, then if it's accepted, will work together with that press to publish. The difference here between Traditional is that often these companies are smaller and you are the one taking the responsibilities for the expense and possible losses, not the publisher.
- Indie Publishing: Though this is often used interchangeably with "self-publishing", I believe it's rather different. Indie Publishing (short for Independent publishing) is when an author goes into self-publishing, perhaps even starting their own publishing company. Many Indie Publishers use print-on-demand services and try to get into bigger stores like Amazon.
- E-book Publishing: For those who aren't interested in producing print copies of their books, there is the option of going solely into e-book publishing. This is definitely the easiest route out of them all, and can be very quick as well.
Now let's look at the pros and cons of each!
- Upon signing a book contract, you don't have to worry as much about cover design, interior book formatting, marketing, book launches, and all the nitty-gritty details of the actual publishing...which can give you more time to write.
- Since you're with a traditional publishing house you will be more likely to get noticed by readers.
- You'll be able to get into bookstores and libraries much, much easier.
- People will automatically give you a lot of credit for "getting published" and might take you more seriously as an author.
- If the books don't sell the loss won't be on your shoulders as much.
- You're not going to have near as much control over what happens with your book and the publishing process.
- It can take a long time and lots of defeat to finally be accepted by an agent. This translates to possible years of nothing being published at all.
- Finding a book publisher that fits you and your style AND will take you on can be a challenge. Some book publishers might want you to adapt to their standards to be published by them.
- It can take a lot of effort and research to know who to contact, where to send your manuscript, and if you even can.
- You'll probably need to go through an agent to get to a publisher in the first place, which can be a hassle.
- There's a lot more "cooks in the kitchen" and you're going to have to be able to work with a lot of different people just to get published...and you might not always get everything your way.
- If you just want to print up a few dozen books for friends and family then this is a simple way to do it.
- You're not going to have to deal with a bunch of "other people".
- You have to pay a lot of money out of pocket to print your book.
- Then you might end up with books laying around that you can't sell (if you're trying to sell them).
- If anyone is ever interested in your book and you only did an initial printing of a few books for family and friends, you can't direct them to get a copy for themselves...and you can't really print just a couple books either.
- You will probably have to pay the vanity press to format your book's interior, and you'll have to do the cover yourself or hire someone to do it.
- Vanity publishing doesn't come across as very professional...so if you're trying to go into business it won't help your image.
- You'll have a "partnership" or assistance along the way while still retaining a lot of control.
- You get the best of both worlds-- a 'self publishing' mentality with the benefits of traditional publishing.
- You can get a lot of exposure if you're with the right company.
- You have to pay for a lot of different services, which can add up to a lot of money.
- You have to go through a lot of the submitting processes like with traditional publishing but still have to pay for various things yourself.
- If the book is a flop and doesn't sell very well, all the loss is on you.
- It's a fairly new style of publishing, so finding a good option to fit you might be a little more difficult.
- You are in control of every detail from writing to design to book launches and marketing.
- You can essentially start your own publishing company, establishing a name and brand.
- It's pretty straightforward.
- It's a really up-and-coming publishing option, and if you do it right, you can be really professional and respected.
- It's great if you want to go long term or turn publishing books into a business.
- If you go with a print-on-demand printing service it can be really economical and convenient.
- You either have to hire help for various things or do everything yourself.
- If you do everything yourself it can take a LOT of time and effort and learning.
- You have to be able to wear many hats (because even if you hire out for design or formatting or editing you still need to be able to understand it and interact intelligently with those people).
- You have to market and launch everything yourself.
- It can be really difficult to get into bookstores or libraries.
- You have to be ready to extend yourself in other ways to reach your readers. (e.g. blogging).
- Super simple, super fast.
- Get books out in a more prolific manner.
- Instantly on widely used ebook stores.
- You can potentially sell better in ebook format.
- Cover formatting is much simpler than print books.
- Ebooks can be interactive-- pictures, website links, even videos nowadays.
- You still have to make sure your book is noticed by your potential readers. (aka marketing).
- If you want your book in print you have to do another format, ISBN number, and possibly even a different printing service.
- E-books can get buried on online stores, and it can be hard to make them more noticed without lots of reviews.
- You'll either have to learn how to format specifically for ebooks or you'll have to hire someone.
So how do you know what's best for you?
You all probably know by now that I'm an Indie Author. I enjoy the freedom and I love being able to wear all the different hats involved in the process of writing and publishing a book. Does it get overwhelming sometimes, though? Definitely. I'm glad I'm an Indie author, but there are moments when I just really want to hire a bunch of people for different jobs. (Checks wallet. Haha that's not happening...) But even though sometimes I really wish I had a team to help me out, I know I wouldn't be as happy in a traditional book deal, and I'm beyond excited with all I've been able to learn because I had to.
So would I recommend Indie? Yes. Is it for you? Maybe not. While I would recommend it, I'll be the first to say that it's not for everybody. And that's ok. Here's the break down.
If you like various types of work (design, formatting, editing), if you're willing to put in the time to do it well... if you enjoy having complete freedom for your creativity, style and standards, if you like being your own boss, and if you tend towards an entrepreneurial spirit, then Indie might be for you.
If you're interested in being top-dog in the process but want help along the way, if you don't want to spend so many hours on work you could have others do, if you would rather invest money than time, if you don't like being the only decision-maker, if you want to work alongside a team of people who know what they're doing-- then maybe hybrid publishing is for you.
If you just want to write, if you like the traditional triumph of snagging a book deal, if you don't want to mess with details or book launches or any of that at all, if you would rather go through the energy of contacting agencies and publishing houses rather then learning how to do stuff independently, if you are ok with possibly getting dozens of rejections... then maybe you're cut out for traditional.
Obviously, this is just an intro. There's not time or space in one post to go into all the details for each style of publishing, nor am I the best one to talk about all the various types. But I wanted to give you all a basic idea of what each entails, so you can get a better idea of what might work for you. Think you're an Indie at heart? Then I encourage you to go research indie publishing. One invaluable resource for you is Joel Friedlander's Book Designer Website. Just trust me on that one. From cover design to book formatting to knowing about ISBN numbers and more, if you're going to do the Indie route, go to his site and learn. Take the time to know what you're getting into, to learn about the different areas of book publishing that maybe you never even thought of before. Copyrights? Book launches? Marketing? Hiring proofreaders? If you want to be an Indie, you need to know this stuff.
If you find yourself leaning more towards hybrid or traditional, I'd still say go look into it. How do you go about finding agencies? Tips for emailing potential agents? What will you need to be aware of before getting involved with a publishing house?
The main point is that writers can't just be writers. You have to be willing to put in some effort to know your game, and it doesn't matter whether that game is Indie or Traditional or whatever. Not only will you understand how things works better, be able to act with confidence and knowledge, but you will also be able to converse better with other people about your work or services you are paying them for.
So, Tell me. What Publishing route do you think fits you? If I was fancy shmancy I'd whip up a fun test, but it's kind of last minute... (if you want one though let me know and I'd try my hand at it.... could be amusing, lol)
You all have a lovely day!!
P.S. Like this post? You might like these!
The Writing Cycle: What it is and How it Works
8 Favorite Websites For Indie Authors
5 Practical Tips for Extroverted Authors