Sunday, May 06, 2012

A Primer on Ways to Publish

I was reading a blog post about publishing options and marveled at how terms morph and paradigms shift over such a very short time. Not two years ago, we fussed over traditional publishing, vanity publishing, and self-publishing. Many whined about SO many choices, worried how to select the "right" one. Well, hold onto your hat. Now you can choose traditional, vanity, self-published, Indie published (why the capitalization??), and hybrid.

If you're an author trying to decide how to publish, you're allowed to throw that hat on the ground and stomp on it. I know. It's frustrating. I've self-published and traditionally published, and years and years ago, I once vanity published (trying to forget that experience).

No one way is right for all, but you have definite issues to consider with each one. You just have to weigh the good, the bad, and what fits in your life, your marketing plan, and your pocketbook.

  • Pays royalties based upon sales
  • You pay nothing
  • Highly vetted
  • What you generally see on bookstore shelves
  • The publisher is responsible for formatting, cover, editing, distribution
  • You sign away an agreed upon number of rights
  • Found at Amazon and B&N and in Indie bookstores.
  • ISBN belongs to traditional press
Self-publishing / Indie publishing
  •  You pay everything
  • You own all rights
  • You receive all money
  • You are the publisher, responsible for formatting, cover, editing, distribution
  • You are the distributor
  • Some difficulty placing books in brick and mortar stores
  • Found at Amazon and B&N online and e-book venues like Smashwords
  • Common method used for e-book sales
  • Indie means an author creates the image of an imprint or "publishing house" for his/her books
  • ISBN belongs to you/your imprint
Hybrid Presses
  • You pay part of the cost
  • You negotiate the rights, but are usually able to keep more, if not all, rights
  • You receive royalties, usually at a higher rate than traditional
  • You choose the degree of editing, formatting, cover, and pay for the service
  • Your investment determines the print run, just like self-publishing
  • Sometimes material is vetted, depending on the entity
  • ISBN belongs to hybrid press, but might be negotiated.
Vanity-Subsidy Presses
  • You pay everything
  • You own all rights
  • You receive royalties at a much higher rate than traditional
  • You agree to formatting, cover, editing, distribution, marketing in the price
  • Agreements may be made to restrict rights of author and increase rights of press to harbor the book in its catalog
  • Minimal vetting; some do not vet at all
  • ISBN belongs to press
 Somebody may take issue with bits and pieces of each of these, and in real life, there are exceptions within these categories as well as some entities that may feel they don't fall into any of the above (like Publish America). If you are new, just notice the terms and read the general descriptions. It's tempting to jump into publishing, but you don't want to spend months and years on a story to ruin its appearance to the world. Choose wisely, and only after doing your research. It's well worth the time and investment of your full-attention to know what you are getting into . . . and what you are choosing not to.


Louise Broadbent said...

I thought Indie Publishing was more like Traditional than Self, in that it pretty much is traditional publishing but with an independent publishe, rather than a large brand, who will devote more attention to your book but have less contacts and therefore will produce and sell less copies. Am I thinking of something else? Or have I just got this wrong?

Hope Clark said...

What's happened, IMHO, is that what used to be very small publishing companies that were traditional hs morphed into individals who have started small publishing companies to hide the fact they are self-publishing. So you'll see this term used on either side of the line. In either case, study them closely.