Monday, October 13, 2014

Types of typers

Sorry for the cheesy title. It's late. ;)

Tonight, I want to talk for a few minutes about the two different routes you can take as an author - traditional publishing or self-publishing (or independent publishing, e-publishing, print-on-demand - I'll talk more about each of these in a minute).

Traditional publishing is what we typically think of when we think of an author and their publisher. I tends to follow the same steps every time:

* Author writes a proposal.
* Author gives proposal to agent.
* Agent sends proposal to publisher.
* Publishing board meets and decides they like the proposal .
* Publisher signs a contract stating they will publish the book and pay the author a certain amount called an "advance" (typically it comes in two installments - one when the author signs the contract, one when they deliver a complete manuscript or when the manuscript is deemed acceptable by the editor).
* Author submits work.
* Book goes through several edits - an overall edit, a line edit and a copyedit - this takes several months.
* A cover artist hired by the publisher creates a cover for the book.
* After a few more months, the book is printed.
* Publisher hires a publicity manager to get the book into influential people's hands or to arrange book or blog tours.
* As the book sells, you make 'royalties", or a percentage of each book's sales and those are paid back to you after you earn back the advance. Once you have earned enough to cover the advance, you then get royalty checks every few months (typically four times a year).

 If you are looking to be published by a traditional publisher, the absolute, hands down BEST way to get your work into the publisher's hands is to go to a writing conference. I know we say this all the time, but it's true. ;)

Self-publishing is very different. The entire process is a little different but unlike traditional publishing where there is a general framework that most everyone adheres to, self-publishing has a few different forms that are each pretty unique.

Independent publishing is what most people think of when they hear self-publisher. Basically, the steps go like this:

* Author writes the book.
* Author either pays to have the book edited or edits it themselves.
* Author provides cover work or pays for the cover work.
* Author then pays the publisher a lump sum to produce the book (some publishers will provide editing and cover art services as a part of their fee). As a part of the fee, you get an ISBN number and a set amount of copies. Some even provide it on online sellers like Amazon, etc.
* Author can then buy copies of their book at wholesale prices and sell them at retail prices to make money off the book. They also make money off online sales.
* Author is in charge of all of their own publicity.

Print-on-demand publishing follows the same guidelines as the independent publishing, except there may not be a mass production of books - with these publishers you pay as you go - meaning that they will print say a hundred copies and then when you need more, you order more and they print more.

E-publishing is the newest form to hit the market. In e-publishing, there is no hard copy of the book - it is strictly an e-book (Kindle, Nook, etc.). Here are the steps for this:

* Author writes the book.
* Author edits the book or pays someone to edit the book.
* Author creates a cover image or pays someone to create the cover image.
* Author uploads the manuscript onto Kindle publishing or Nook publishing or another online e-book distributor.
* Distributor sells the book and author and distributor earn money from royalty sales.
* Author does all their own publicity.

The biggest difference in independent and print-on-demand books and e-books? Independent and print-on-demand the author pays to have their book published. In e-book publishing, the distributor takes a percentage of the royalties (usually around 30-50%), but the actual publication is free.

So there you have it. A very, very, very quick and basic intro to a few of the different forms publication can take. What are your thoughts on all of this? Is there a form that you respect/prefer more than others? Why do you think you feel that way?


  1. I still like the traditional way as I don't think I could self publish but I could. Self publish just seems like a lot more work.

  2. In my mind, traditional means a book has passed muster and met some invisible standard that's out there. I like to think that if I buy such a book, it's quality. That said, I've read some and wondered HOW they were traditionally published.

    For myself, I see the same thing...maybe when I'm good enough, I'll cross that invisible line into finding an agent and blah blah blah. However, even those in traditional publishing have different tastes and opinions vary widely. Then there is the land mine of rules that must be followed, particularly in CBA. I understand, but it gets so complicated.

    I've read plenty of indie books (ebooks especially) that frustrate me, especially now that I understand more about writing--sometimes they feel like my first draft of my first story when I had mountains to learn. I admit I'm more afraid to spend money on an ebook becuase I don't know who judged their readiness to publish.

    Should I ever think about indie publishing myself, I would want an excellent editor so that I could STILL make sure my work was good enough to put out there. The perk to this would be finding one's own groove when a story doesn't fit the mold for a specific market (CBA vs ABA).

    1. (Oh yeah, then there is the little matter of loving a real book versus an ebook. The ebooks I do read have to be awesome to keep me on the Kindle.)