by Kristen Eckstein
So it’s no wonder when you start researching various book publishing avenues it can be overwhelming, and downright confusing.
While there are hybrid styles of book publishing; in-between routes to take your book from Word document to print, the majority can be distilled into four primary types: Traditional, Vanity, Indie and E-Publishing. Here are detailed explanations and pros and cons for each option as well as reasons to choose which route will be right for you:
Traditional publishing is still alive, and despite popular belief will probably never die. Almost all traditional publishers are owned by the same “Big Six” corporations: Hachette, Macmillan, Penguin, HarperCollins, Random House and Simon & Schuster. To break into traditional publishing you typically need an agent who will represent you and your book to one of the imprints of these “Big Six.”
The pros to being a traditionally published author include: an ego boost for being “vetted,” an advance (average non-fiction advance is $1,000), some marketing assistance if you’re a returning author.
The cons include: three to five years from acceptance by an agent to seeing your book in print, no marketing assistance if you’re a first-time author (or minimal assistance until your book earns out its advance, then no more), publisher takes most of your rights, including repurposing.
When to go traditional? If you already have tens of thousands of followers, consistent marketing for yourself as an expert, or if you’re writing fiction in a rapidly growing genre (note: not vampire books, sorry).
When not to go traditional? If your message needs to reach your masses in fewer than three years, you don’t want to give up your rights, or if you’re a control-freak entrepreneur. I’m completely serious.
If you’re interested in finding an agent and being traditionally published, I highly recommend you check out the book The Writer’s Market and closely follow its guidelines.
Vanity publishing is the most popular form of self-publishing in existence today. I don’t have time to go into the details of how it got its name, but if a company charges you upfront for the publication of your book, then pays you “royalties,” it’s probably vanity.
Many of these companies call themselves “subsidy” or even “indie” companies, and some even have “free” setup fees, but just know that in self-publishing, you will be paying the vanity publisher.
The pros to vanity publishing include: fast three-month average to go from Word doc to print, faster for eBooks, cheap if you select a publisher that offers print-on-demand technology and easy… sometimes too easy.
The cons include: “middle man” publisher takes on average $3-4 from each book sold (the lower the setup fees, the higher this amount), few of these books see a bookstore shelf, limited marketability, often looks cheap.
When to go vanity? If you have to get your book done fast and quality is secondary to speed, you don’t want to handle publishing details yourself (such as selecting a team of professionals), you want an easy promotional item for your business, or if you’re writing fiction and are sick of rejection letters.
When not to go vanity? If you want to keep your distribution rights, you value quality over speed, you want to maximize your marketability (especially through bookstores), or if you want to speak on the stage and make a professional impact.
Vanity publishers are good for poetry, short stories, fiction, or a fast promo item for your business. If you’re interested in choosing a vanity publisher, check out the website Preditors & Editors at Pred-Ed.com and do some research on other authors’ experiences before signing any contracts.
In Part Two of this article, I’ll take you into the world of Indie Publishing as well as E-Publishing and help you decide which book publishing route is just right for you!
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.