In 2018, we as authors are lucky enough to have three publishing options available to us! These include self publishing, traditional publishing and something that lies in the middle which is relatively new to the publishing scene - assisted independent publishing. Outlined below is a brief description of each, in the hope that it will assist you in finding your best publishing option.
Many authors aspire to be published by a traditional publishing house such as Scholastic, Penguin, Macmillan etc. For some, being published by a major publishing house offers prestige and success! Here are some points to consider when getting published through a major publishing house:
To become published through a major publishing house you will often require an agent to help you to get a publishing deal, which comes at a cost. Manuscripts submitted through your agent need to be top quality, topical and have a good predictor of sales.
The speed of getting published in this way is typically very slow. The process can take between six months and two years.
You will be working with an established and quality publishing team and process who will print your book in large quantities (approximately 5,000 books) and will get your books into the stores.
Traditional publishing houses do take a large cut. In terms of royalty rates, the bookseller takes approximately 40%, the distributor takes 30% and the publisher takes 20%.
Traditional publishers have total creative control over every aspect of your book from the title to specific design formats, illustrations and even the wording. They also have the first rights over your book and any future work, the life of your book (generally about a 9 month life span) and the voice of the your book (which can change during the editing process).
Despite the fact that traditional publishers have access to huge marketing engines you are still required to do book marketing yourself with things such as social media, book tours, video marketing and much more.
In summary, traditional publishing has a huge marketing machine for online stores, physical stores and retail, there are no upfront costs, you will work with a top quality team and if you make the 1% group it is very lucrative!
At the other end of the spectrum, self publishing offers total creative control and freedom in the publishing process:
You have total creative control over every aspect of your book. You don't have to ask
anyone for permission. You make all the decisions, outlay all the money but also receive all the profits!!
You can choose to go through a self publishing company that offers different services such as title registration, design and print etc. You can also choose to use solo contractors to complete different stages of your book such as cover design, promotional material and editing etc at an additional cost.
With self publishing there is no marketing support and also no guarantee that the editing, design or production will meet industry standards.
When using the self publishing option, the book seller takes 40% and the author receives the remainder.
In terms of destiny, you as the author have full rights, which includes the future of your work, the life of the book and the 'voice' of the book.
In summary, self publishing has the highest amount of creative control. It also has the highest initial investment and return on your investment however there is no marketing team to guide you, nor any tangible strategies and education offered to assist.
Assisted Independent Publishing
Finally, the publishing method that sits between self publishing and traditional publishing is assisted independent publishing! I chose this method for my first publishing journey (with Ocean Reeve Publishing) for a number of reasons:
Both the author and publisher have control over the publishing which means it is a shared process of editing, design, printing, marketing etc. However, at the end of the day, the final decision remains with the author.
You maintain full rights over the destiny of your book including having control over your future work, the life of the book and your voice.
You are guided by industry professionals who have a strong background and industry experience in traditional publishing. This team handles everything from title registrations to book printing and they help you to produce trade standard publications.
You retain total creative control over when and where you sell your book (for example audio books, e-books, video books).
In terms of royalty rates, the bookseller takes 40%, the distributor takes 15% and the author receives the remainder.
Assisted independent authors receive a high level of marketing and distribution support including mentoring, pre-sale strategies, launches, signings, e-book marketing etc.
In summary, assisted independent publishing gives you higher royalty rates, marketing knowledge and support from industry professionals. You can choose to sell online or in person, however, as with the other two forms of publishing, you do need to be motivated to manage and market yourself and invest time and money. You receive a higher royalty rate than through traditional publishing but you also generally sell less books through direct sales with the author. To put that in perspective, the average self publisher globally will sell 200 books in its life, the traditionally published author globally will have an average of 5000 , and an assisted indie author will average 2000 globally. Considering I have almost gone past 200 and the books are yet to arrive, I am motivated to exceed the 2000 average.
The publishing journey is personal, exciting and fulfilling. Consider your goals, choose the publishing process best suited to your goals and measure your own success! I wish you all the best in your publishing journey!