Why Publish With A Traditional House
Last week, I shared my reasons for self-publishing. I must admit, my thought process on this has evolved as quickly as the entire publishing world. I once thought self-published books looked cheap and were “less than,” but as my post from last week will show, that is definitely not the case these days (especially when authors invest in the product).
But, this week, I want to share the upside of going with a traditional publisher–the folks who are in this business and publish books each and every month.
First and foremost– the money, or more accurately, the advance: While advances tend to be modest (particularly for first-time or relatively unknown authors), advances do give you a bit of cash and extra encouragement to meet a deadline (both things most of us need). When you get an advance from a traditional house, it is usually divided into portions–you may receive a small amount upon signing, another amount upon completing the manuscript (and having it meet the publisher’s standards) and another amount upon printing/publishing of the book. So, even if you luck up and get a $10,000 advance–you will only get about $3,300 at a time. While that’s not enough to run away to Hawaii to spend months finding your creative muse and completing your manuscript, it can at least help you get a good night’s rest because your bills are paid and you can get up and write, write, write. But, speaking of money, be warned many writers don’t see much more after they’ve received their advance payments. Why? Because an advance is exactly that–advance payment on book sales; once your book starts to sell, your publisher will deduct all of the expenses the company put into producing your book–printing, internal staff costs (you get professional editors, designers, marketers and publicists, etc and someone has to pay for all of a that work). So until that money is “paid back” at the rate agreed upon in your contract, you will not receive another check from the company for that project.
Professional Quality–When you go with a traditional publisher, you will get a quality product (or at least you should). You have a full staff dedicated to researching the weight of paper, how long it will last on the shelf before it begins to curl up or turn brown (the stuff most of us know nothing about…And are okay remaining ignorant about!). You will also get recommendations on trim size, cover design, and professional editing (usually by a team, which also alleviates mistakes).
Exposure–Publishers also have sales staff (or representatives) who go out and meet with book buyers to tell them about your book. You can get more distribution from their efforts than from your own.
Printing–Your publisher also has established relationships with printers, who can give them rates based on the total amount of business they do–not just on your book. You stand a better chance of getting a great product completed at a different price than you would as a self-published author.
Other Perks–Most traditional publishers have been in this business for a long time and they just know more than any self-publisher could; traditional publishers have a staff who collectively have years and years in the business–watching trends, testing the market, reading the competitors. They know the business. Some have entire departments set up to try to sell your book in areas you haven’t even considered (foreign rights, book clubs, special editions for affinity groups, etc.). I just received an exciting email from my publisher that my book would be translated in a foreign language. I had nothing to do with this deal, but I will get some of the benefits. And, people in another country speaking another language will read the words I feel God has given me to share–that’s a perk and a blessing!
More books–If you publish with a traditional house and your book sells well (basically because you’ve aggressively marketed your book too), you may be able to get another contract and another book published–after all, a traditional house’s business is to publish more books–regardless of the amount of rejection letters they have to send.
So, if you have more than one book brewing in you or you want to be a professional author/producer of content, securing a traditional publisher just might suit you well; however, if you have one story right now you just want to get out quickly, you may consider self-publishing.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my assessments of self-publishing and traditional publishers; did I leave out any reasons to consider one over the other?