There are many things to consider when you are thinking about either self-publishing a book or are considering trying to send it to traditional publishers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and it really depends on what type of book you have produced, and where and how you want it marketed. Another thing to think about is how much time you are willing for the book to hit the streets. ISBN numbers can be problematic if you are self publishing as well, but it isn’t necessarily needed. If you decide to self-publish, you need to know that you will also have to self-promote your book as well as pay for the printing costs, whereas through traditional publishing these cost are covered by the publishing house. There are many things to consider when you are contemplating self-publishing a book, and this article may help you to weigh the pros and cons of self publishing.
First of all, what is the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing? Traditional publishing is where the author submits his book to a publishing house. The publisher then reviews it and decides if they want to take the risk of publishing it. If they do decide to publish the book they will usually want the writer to edit the book in some ways, but will assign them and editor and help them with the revision. The publisher may take suggestions from the author, but will design, layout, edit, and print the book at their cost. The author may or may not get an advance, or a sum of money upfront, for the book, but will get money for each copy that is then sold. Traditional publishers have a stake in the success of the book; they want to be able to recoup the expense of actually producing the book, so they often have a marketing scheme to help sell it. This oftentimes includes sending the author on a book tour. The self publisher, however, has to do all of these things on their own, and the expenses incurred are also their responsibility.
However much the traditional publishing houses help their authors out, they are still in business to make money. If an author can keep his costs down to print a book, he will probably make more money per book than if he went with a traditional publisher. The self publisher probably doesn’t have the resources, however, to get his book into as many marketplaces as the traditional publisher can. If you don’t think that the book will be a bestseller then self publishing may be a great idea since most of the copies will have a better return than if it were through a publisher.
Competition is one of the main problems with traditional publishing. There are many writers swamping the editorial staffs of publishing houses with manuscripts, and many of them are excellent writers. An author can try to enlist the services of an agent which will get them put to the top of the reading pile, but competition for agents is really hard as well, and they take a percentage of your earnings. With a surplus of excellent talent, and the combination of the dwindling demand for books, the chances of landing a contract are minimal, especially for a new writer who doesn’t have a proven track record behind him. Many traditional publishers won’t even read a book without first having the author contact them to see if they would be interested in it first. If an author’s book is a bit untraditional, or if it is pushing the boundaries of form, then it may be extremely hard to get it published.
If an author has a niche market, a website to sell from, or is selling books from the trunk of their car, then self publishing may be an option. If the writer wants to see their books in a traditional bookstore, then it may be important to purchase an ISBN number. This is the unique number and bar code that usually appears on the back cover of a book. With this code the title, price, and imprint (or publisher) of the book automatically comes up on a bookstore’s computer system. This number can be expensive to purchase, but it almost necessary to get into big bookstores. Traditional publishers can buy these unique numbers in bulk and so drives the price lower for them. ISBN numbers can be purchased from http://bowker.com/.
Print on demand services have greatly helped the self publisher in the last few years. Prices for developing and creating your own books have greatly decreased, and self publishers don’t have to have large print runs to reduce the cost of overall printing anymore. Books can be printed relatively cheaply one book at a time if need be. This is great news for the small time self publisher. A writer who sells his books from the back of his car can have ten books printed up rather than having a large press run that may not be affordable to him. Although extra services may cost more (like a press package, or editorial services), prices through these companies are usually reasonable. Try https://www.createspace.com/, or http://www.lulu.com/.
Beware of vanity presses because these types of companies will “publish” anything that comes their way, but will charge the writer to produce the book and typically will not pay for promoting or advertising. The vanity press doesn’t make money from selling the book, but makes money off of charging the author to produce it. All of the copies that are sold are being sold to the author, who then has the responsibility of marking up the price of the book and reselling it themselves. They may have some services to help design the book, or even editorial services, but they typically cost a lot of money. The price of the finished product is usually exorbitant, and the services that the vanity press offers to the author usually do not merit the high dollar price for the book itself.
The timing of placing the book into the marketplace may also be a factor in deciding whether to self publish or go with a traditional publisher. Through traditional means a book may take years from the time that it is accepted from a publisher to the time that it actually hits the bookstores. A self publisher can have a book available to sell sometimes in as little as a week or two. If the topic of the book is extremely trendy or newsworthy, then self publishing may be the way to go just to be able to get the information out to the public in a timely fashion. Traditional publishers usually take some time to be able to produce, print, market, and ship books, and sometimes this process can take a year or two. A print on demand title might be produced quickly, and this is a consideration for the author.
These are all things to consider when you are contemplating self publishing over traditional publishing. For the independent cost and marketing might be a factor, but the editorial services and support from a traditional publisher is extraordinary and important to consider as well. Make sure to send your book to many different publishers at the same time if trying to go the traditional route because competition is ridiculous. It may take many years just to find a publisher who will be interested, and then it may take another year just to see the book in print. If timeliness is a factor, then self publishing may be a serious consideration. Print on demand companies have made this process cheaper, easier, and faster for the self publisher, which is yet another thing to think about when you are decided about publishing your own work.