We had talked before about how difficult the “publishing step” might be, the problems with the publishers, the doubts… should I choose self-publishing? Online? Should it be a physical book or just an ebook? Perhaps both?
When our story is done, the worst part of being an author begins. And many times, you don’t even know all the options or even understand them and all their nuances. So I researched a little and tried to make some sort of summary of each option together with its pros and cons.
When I started writing, this seemed to be the safest course of action, but is it really? Let’s see.
We all probably understand that it’s a huge step to get published by a big company, one that everyone knows. That will be good on your resume, maybe change your life as a writer (trust me, not exactly), but it’ll definitely make you feel great about yourself! Yes, you are allowed to feel that. Competition is hard and you still got it. It’s amazing. So the pros are probably easy to understand, right?
So now, let’s focus on the cons. You’ll face many problems with them. First of all the great amount of rejections that seem, so very often, to come down to a very unfair decision, especially in the giant publishers, where you’ll probably receive a rejection form which just goes to show you that they don’t read more than a couple pages or perhaps even the synopsis (if they read anything at all, you’ll never quite be sure).
They still rely on you for the marketing of your own book. Yes, it’s true. If you are as naive as I was, you’ll probably be thinking that it’s their job to promote the book, right? It’s the best part of having a big publisher on your back, you’ll have more visibility. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily true. I mean, they will promote your book, IF, it’s already going well…
And, let’s talk about those contracts… You usually receive an advance for them to publish your book (they are smaller and smaller nowadays), you are the one in charge of the marketing, as we have seen in the previous paragraph, and there is, almost always, a clause to the contract that stops you from publishing with another publisher form a certain amount of time or that all but forces you to give them your next book. You probably don’t want this…
In any case, I still think that they can make a real difference in your career, especially with a little bit of luck to dodge any of the worse contracts. So, if that’s what you want, you probably need to put yourself out there. One of the best things you can do, conferences, also have a downside to them. They are amazing opportunities to connect with other writers and publishers, but they tend to be expensive, so it’s something to think about carefully.
Self-publishing has been growing in the last decades, mostly because of all the problems and difficulties I mentioned above with traditional publishers and especially the lack of opportunities.
What most authors say is that they have more control over their work and they receive more for each book they manage to sell. Even if they sell fewer books, sometimes it’s financially better anyway and thus an appealing choice.
Obviously, it also has plenty of cons too. First of all, the prejudice: for many people, if you go for self-publishing, this automatically means you just weren’t good enough to make it in the traditional environment. Promotion is also a problem, but it is a problem in any case…
With all the evolution surrounding it, you have now so many different options and platforms that can help you do this online (Amazon, B&N, Apple, Kobo, Google Play, etc…)
There was a time that vanity publishing was considered self-publishing, but there is a huge difference between them. In vanity publishing, you pay someone to publish your book. You take all the financial risk, the other person has the work and, obviously, a cut of your profits.
As you might imagine this is an amazing open ground for abuse of the system, in a myriad of ways. First of all, because of the way the profits are split and some other details such as not caring about the costs, they never end up conducting a good market study to prevent spending unnecessary and frankly absurd amounts of money.
Many people have tried this kind of publishing, but almost every author will tell you: it’s a terrible idea.
This kind of publishing choice is very simple to understand, the same author has some books traditionally published and others self-published. Technically it’s the best of both worlds, but sometimes, you might face problems due to the publishers’ demands for exclusivity.
This must sound the same as traditional publishing, but I decided to separate them because there are some significant differences between publishing with a small publisher or publishing with a big company.
Small publishers have few employees and usually give more attention to new authors. Besides, most of the time, they give you better royalties on e-books than bigger publishers.
However, there are fewer and fewer of these small publishers, they seem to be disappearing as more and more authors go for the self-publishing.
E-books and Print-on-Demand
They are two different things, but I put them in the same category because they both have no costs for you and most of the authors that go for these options, decided to do both of them.
The e-books, as you probably know, are sold and delivered electronically. Despite the fact that many writers still prefer the physical paper book, for some fiction categories, most of the sold books are e-books.
Many times, the author gives the readers the opportunity to get the paper book, through the print-on-demand option, meaning that the book will be printed only after an order is placed, which makes each book costs a higher amount than it would otherwise have to, but there are zero risks involved.
The publishing world is changing fast and the options tend to grow with all the technological advancements in our society. Keep updated and choose what best suits you and your work.