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Named to "Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites," this #SharingwithWriters blog is a way to connect with my readers and fellow writers, a way to give the teaching genes that populate my DNA free rein. Please feel free to add to the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

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Saturday, April 14, 2018

Lois W. Stern Simplifies Publishing Choices for New Authors

Four Ways to Publish - Which One’s For Me:

Independent Press, Small Press, Traditional Publisher, Hybrid Publisher

by Lois W. Stern

Traditional publishing was once the only reputable way to go, and Vanity Press was a dirty word, but the times they are a changin’. We now have four ways to publish: traditional publisher, independent press, small press and hybrid, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at each in turn.

Traditional Publisher
The traditional publishing company buys the rights to your manuscript. Usually an agent represents the author, negotiates the deal with the publisher and in return gets a percentage of any monies earned from the sale of the author's book. Part of the arrangement includes author royalties, based on a mutually agreed upon percentage of sales, and payment of an advance to the author.

You, the author, work with a professional staff to assist you with every aspect from production (i.e. graphic artist, editors, PR and marketing, distribution personnel and more.) The publisher also assists with marketing by distributing advance review copies and assisting with the set up of author events and media coverage. Normally traditional publishers also supply the author with PR and display materials such as posters, display kits, author stickers and bookmarks. All of the above can add up to less stress for the author with more exposure for their book. And let’s not forget prestige. The halo effect of being traditionally published is huge.

Each day, agents and book publishers receive a staggering number of inquiries and manuscripts. Ultimately, less than 1% of authors seeking to be traditionally published are successful. Secondly, although royalties sound like the best of all worlds, they are not without caveats. Yes, the author does earn a royalty on the sale of each book, but it doesn’t go into the author’s pocket quite yet. The publisher normally deducts those royalties from the advance the author has received, until the advance is paid back in full.

What you need to know
The traditional publisher has the final say on every aspect of your book, from editorial content to cover design to the number of books in the first printing, and when to allow a book to go out of print. Since they are the experts, it can be comforting and cost effective to have these decisions taken off your hands . . .  until such time as you adamantly disagree with one of their decisions. The book publisher budgets funds to promote and market the book, which can be a good thing for the author, but since the amount can vary widely, this is a point that you should see written into your contract. Another point to consider, are you expected to hire a book publicist? What expectations does the publisher have of you to promote your book?

Independent Press
The independent publisher is in the business of publishing books  . . . period. Many have in-house services to help you in the process at add-on costs, but you, the author, have total control. You can select the independent publisher of your choice, have input on the cover design, or for that matter, design it yourself. Is this control a positive or negative feature of independent publishing? Based on your writing, artistic and marketing talents and experience, it could work for or against you.

You, the author, have total control as to which independent press publishes your book. There is a great deal of self-satisfaction in bringing your baby into the world. Also, you will earn more per book sale, so if you have a ready audience for your book, this could spell more money in your pocket.

The final product, your book, can appear less that professional if not designed and edited properly. There are upfront expenses to publishing with an independent press that can become costly. We are talking not only of possible printing costs (although companies as Amazon/CreateSpace and others are now handling those tasks without charge), but also the services of a book doctor or editor and graphic artist. Marketing and distribution are totally in your hands.although some independent publishers offer some of these services at additional fees.

What you need to know:
A quality product is a good start, but don’t expect buyers to come knocking at your door. There is too much competition out there. Learn all you can about smart marketing in the days of the internet and be ready to invest consistent energy and funds to this effort.

Small Press
The small press functions somewhat like the Traditional Publisher in that the author submits their work for publication consideration. A team within the company decides on the suitability of your manuscript, based both on the quality of your work, its genre and compatibility with their publishing goals. 

The small press publisher typically has fewer clients, which can result in more time devoted to you and your book. Although there are professionals on staff to make editing and cover design decisions, you as author, are more likely to be consulted and have input into these decisions. There are no upfront costs for the author and you garner more prestige in many circles by having your book published by a company that has vetted your work. 

The Small Press Publisher provides some marketing and promotion guidance, but these services vary widely from one company to the next. Sales will be more limited than with a Traditional Publisher as the range of distribution is smaller. Unlike the Traditional Publisher, the author normally does not receives an advance for their work. Small publishers are limited in their publicity budget for individual books.

What you need to know:
Ask specific questions about the type and amount of promotional and marketing guidance and support you can expect. Be prepared to do most of the marketing yourself. Find out how well some of their other authors are selling by checking sales of their books on Amazon, Kindle, etc. Find out what price they would set for your book. (If the price is too high, you will know they are mainly interested in non-print sales or e-books, which provide far less in author royalties.) Visit their Facebook page and listen in on the conversation to see how active the prospective publisher is and what their clients are saying about them. And of course, beware of hidden fees. 

Hybrid Publishing
Similar to traditional and small press publishers, the hybrid publisher normally has a team in place to make a careful and critical examination of your work before accepting it for publication. According to David Vinjamuri of Forbes Magazine in his article How Hybrid Publishers Innovate To Succeed, though models vary, three features distinguish some of the most successful hybrid publishers from traditional publishing and self-publishing.
1) While some hybrid publishers offer small advances (in the hundreds of dollars), they dont pay advances in the manner of a Big 5 publishers. 2) Many of the hybrids operate with few salaried employees. Instead the employees bid for the projects they want to work with. 3) Hybrids have agility on their side - the ability to mimic self-publishers in their speed to publish and market your work.

Unlike self-publishers, hybrid publishers normally do not charge authors to publish. On the flip side, they can price their books more aggressively than the Traditional Publisher to gain market share without losing money. In return, authors earn higher royalties (though less than with self-publishing), which are paid monthly and are reportedly more transparent than standard big 5 publishing contracts. The hybrid team members often are not salaried, but bid for the projects they want to work on and are paid if/when the book sells. This is an enormous incentive for them to succeed with the sale of a book, and if it is not working, to go back to the drawing board to analyze and fix the problems.

When employees are paid based on sales rather than salary, there could be rapid turnover in staff, leading to inconsistency in marketing and promotion of your work.
Again, some of the disadvantages listed under Small Press Publishing above, apply here as well:Visit their Facebook page and listen in on the conversation to see how active the prospective publisher is and what their clients are saying about them. And of course, beware of hidden fees. 

What you need to know:
In Jane Friedman’s informative article titled Not All Hybrid Publishers Are Created Equal), (Publishers Weekly, May, 2015), she offers some excellent advice on evaluating hybrids effectively. Here are some questions she suggests you ask:

Will there be a traditional print run—and whos paying for it?
Will the book be pitched to retailers or distributors by a sales team?
How will my book be distributed?
Whats the editing process like?
What marketing and promotion support do my titles receive?
For further details, read her full article at:

Preditors & Editors is an excellent source to properly vet any publisher for contract violations or any other issues they might want to look out for. http://pred-ed.com/peba.ht


Lois W. Stern's Tales2Inspire was a kernel of an idea that started in 2012 and has grown to proportions even she didnt dare to envision. Her innate curiosity about potentially fascinating human interest stories was the spark that ignited this idea. But it was the confused state of traditional

publishing that propelled her forward. Tales2Inspire delivers exactly what it promises as both an Authors Helping Authorsproject and a contest. Winners get their stories published in print, e-book and some even in video formats, with their names, headshot photos, and mini-autobiographies included. Then she spreads the word about the winners and their stories on her blogs, social media and monthly newsletter. FREE to enter, this is a great competition for talented newbies and seasoned authors alike.  Learn more here:
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tales2inspire2
LinkedIn profile: http://tinyurl.com/odtw2wt
Get a FREE Tales2Inspire Sampler book at: www.tales2inspire.com/gift
Tales2Inspire trailer: https://youtu.be/FuDgXkYMHvo
Blog: www.tales2inspire/blog
Get a free sample of 6 inspiring stories written by winners of the Tales2Inspire contests:
Learn more about the Tales2Inspire contest at: www.tales2inspire/contest.

 Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more on her Amazon profile page, http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile. Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and, another booklet, The Great First Impression Book Proposal helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. In addition to this blog, she helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com)

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