The publishing landscape continues to change at a rapid pace. Advances in technology have led to an abundance of new possibilities to print, publish, market and sell books effectively. In this new series of articles on contemporary publishing options, we’re exploring what’s on offer for conscious and creative writers to make informed decisions about the right way forwards.
At its core, publishing is simply the process of issuing printed or otherwise reproduced text or graphic material for sale or distribution to the public.
In days gone by, there were clear boundaries around the different parts of the publishing process – authors would write books, publishers would publish them and retailers would sell them.
Today, advances in technology and access to the internet mean that those clear boundaries no longer exist.
- Authors can publish and sell their books directly to their readers.
- Publishers can create their own content and sell books directly to readers.
- Retailers can publish content and also sell directly to readers.
- And readers can become authors, publishers and “retailers” too!
Yet despite the growing enthusiasm for self or “indie” publishing, a large proportion of writers are still drawn towards the more traditional route to market with professional publishers in the driving seat.
Admittedly there are an increasing number of aspiring and already successful authors who are turning their back on the traditional publishing world. Nevertheless, it remains a firm favourite for many writers today.
So here’s a summary of some of the main pros and cons of traditional publishing to help you to make the right decision for your book.
1. Credibility: perceptions are changing towards self-published books but having your book published by a traditional publisher still offers far greater credibility for you as an author. This is especially the case if you are published by one of the larger houses like Penguin, HarperCollins, or Random House.
2. Professional input: publishers do bring a great deal of expertise and experience to each stage of the publishing process. Right from the start, the editor will have a vision of how your book will work best in the market. Although they are far from infallible, this professional input can make or break your book’s success.
3. Publishing “machine”: with traditional publishers, all of the practical aspects of the publishing process are taken care of. This enables you to focus on writing and raising awareness of your book through all of your platform-building activities.
4. Distribution: traditional publishers still have unrivalled access to the book trade for your book to be sold on the high street plus international sales and distribution channels for your book to reach readers internationally.
1. Time and effort to find an agent and publisher: with a backdrop of uncertainty in the market, it is increasingly challenging to find an agent and a publisher for your book. The process of looking for these important partners can absorb a great deal of your time and energy.
2. Time to market: this factor alone accounts for many authors choosing to self-publish because it takes a relatively long time for your book to be published by a traditional publisher – allow 12 to 18 months.
3. Lack of control: traditional publishers usually have complete control over the way your book looks and how it will be sold and marketed. Your views may be taken in to account, but publishers will have the final say.
4. Out of print: if your book doesn’t sell as well as expected, traditional publishers can be quick to put the book out of print which leaves you back at square one.
What are your thoughts about working with a traditional publisher? Feel free to share your comments and experiences below …
© Julia McCutchen 2010. All Rights Reserved.
If you want to use this article in your ezine or on your website I’d be happy for you to do so as long as you use the complete article, including the copyright line, and include the following paragraph in its entirety:
Julia McCutchen is the founder & creative director of the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers (IACCW) where writers discover their authentic voice – on the page and in the world. A former managing director & publisher (Element, Random House), Julia is a successful and intuitive writer’s coach, mentor and professional publishing consultant. She has over 20 years’ experience of publishing and a track record that includes UK no 1 and international bestsellers. Julia is the author of The Writer’s Journey: From Inspiration to Publication and the creator of the How to Write the Ultimate Book Proposal Online Masterclass Course. For a FREE Special Report, Discover Your Authentic Voice – on the page and in the world, visit www.iaccw.com, and for a range of FREE articles, audios and videos for writers visit www.juliamccutchen.com.