Why are you still looking for a traditional publisher?

home-office-336373_1920A question I’m frequently asked by family, friends and fellow writers is “Why do you still want to go through a traditional publisher when you self publish?” I have a number of reasons for wanting to take the traditional path. The most significant being that for me it is an indicator of success and acceptance by the wider literary community. Yes, yes, I know that this is strictly a personal belief and my not having traditional publisher representation doesn’t mean that I’m not an author. It’s a personal goal.

My other reasons for wanting a traditional publisher are about accessing marketing experience and most importantly an established distribution network – both of which are essential for attracting an audience and selling your book. For me, the pros and cons of Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing are as follows:

SELF PUBLISHING

Pros

  • You have a 100% chance of being published (and that’s a very nice thing)
  • You can choose to publish only e-books, or print books or both
  • You can publish short stories, serials, novellas, novels – whatever takes your fancy
  • You’re in control of the entire process
  • You determine your timetable
  • You received a significantly larger proportion of the royalties than if you went through a traditional publisher (Anything from 30-70%)
  • You will learn a lot about the entire publishing process from writing, to business set up, to printing, to marketing, to sales. This is an invaluable set of experiences (trust me)

Cons

  • You cover 100% of the cost
  • You take 100% of the risk
  • You’ll need to buy/pay for an honest opinion on the potential marketability of your book
  • You need to edit your manuscript very carefully and not rely on your Beta readers to do the work of a professional editor
  • You’re on your own in terms of marketing and distribution
  • It’s very difficult to get book sellers to stock your book/host book launches/host other promotional activities.
  • It’s very difficult to get people/professional organisations/journals/ and/or other publications of merit to review your book.

TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING

Pros

  • You’re in this together.
  • You’ll not have to make a financial contribution to the process (if you do then you’re not in a traditional publishing contract – beware)
  • With any luck you will receive an advance (depends on the size of the publisher, type of book and your experience)
  • You’ll receive advice on selecting the best possible cover for your book
  • You’ll receive a professional opinion on the saleability and appeal of your writing
  • You’ll receive advice/services from a professional editor (again you will need to do work here – human make mistakes no matter how good they are).
  • You’ll have access to people with experience marketing books, press releases, and media
  • You’ll have access to an established distribution network

Cons

  • You have a statistically low chance of obtaining a publisher (or even a literary agent) and therefore a low chance of actually being published
  • A traditional publisher is no guarantee of sales and success
  • You’re in a contract and will be expected to understand and comply with that contract
  • You need to give up some artistic freedoms to produce a product that fits with the publisher (Suck it up – they’re doing this to try and sell your book)
  • You need to fit in with their time frames and demands
  • You received a significantly smaller proportion of the royalties than if you were self published (about 5% but it varies)
  • Don’t expect an easy ride. You’ll still need to work hard to promote your own book!

Good luck! Strive to do what’s best for you and your writing project.

Editing done, cover to go!

Well the editing is finalised, and I am hopeful that all anomalies, weird spelling and miscellaneous bits have been taken care of. Now I have to get the cover sorted. In the past I have only self-published e-books, so covers have been a simple 1 page, front cover job (and yes I know that I have just totally cheapened/de-valued/down grounded the traumatic experience of actually getting a good e-book cover). Now I have the joys of working on an actual paper cover. You need a front bit, back bit and blurb and a spine.

If you are with a traditional publishing house the bulk of this work will be done for you. You may have some say in the final cover design, but your input could be limited. If you are taking the self-publishing path then I recommend that look carefully into the printing requirements for covers. If they have a template then download it.

Your book will need an ISBN (and you need separate ISBNs for print, e-book and audio book editions) and a bar code (for print books). In Australia you can get ISBNs and bar codes through THORPE-Bowker Identifier Services: https://www.myidentifiers.com.au For other countries use google to source a local suppler.

You need to pay particular attention to the spine size. This is determined by the number of pages in the book. “Pete and the Persian Bottle” is a very slim book as it is only 15,000 words/99 pages. In this case the spine will be too small to take text or images, so I will need to use the first sample cover below.

CoverPete test coverIf you are totally stuck I recommend that you seek out the services of an experienced cover designer. A cheaper option can be sourced through fiverr: https://www.fiverr.com. You can also access free images through sites like pixabay: https://pixabay.com

Good luck with your cover!