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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 join the conversation using the very tiny "comment" link. For those interested in editing and grammar, go to http://thefrugaleditor.blogspot.com.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Jacquelyn Lynn, Author and Mentor, Shares Book Publishing Essentials

There is a wonderful array of how-to books for authors who want to self-publish out there and authors who prefer to try the traditional route often benefit from those same books. Those who follow this blog probably know I believe that the more any author reads up on the publishing industry benefits from reading lots of them.  "One is never enough." In that spirit, many of my clients come to me simply wanting to know more about the publishing of a book. You know, the real essentials. Ta da! May I introduce my guest blogger today, Jacquelyn Lynn, who provides readers with exactly that with her The Simple Facts About Self-Publishing! This post includes excerpts from that book as well as more of her flat-out solid publishing wisdom. ~ CHJ

Ready to Publish Your Book?

Contributed by Jacquelyn Lynn


If you’re ready to publish a book, your options have never been greater—but how do you know where to start?


This excerpt from The Simple Facts About Self-Publishing: What indie publishers need to know to produce a great book by Jacquelyn Lynn will help.


Types of publishing

As you consider your self-publishing options, it’s important to understand the three basic types of publishers.

1. Traditional. Traditional publishers include the big New York operations and smaller presses around the country. They buy the rights to publish your book and pay you a percentage of the sales (royalties). Traditional publishers make their money on book sales. You don’t pay a traditional publisher to publish your book. Depending on the size of the publisher and the sales/revenue potential of your book, you may receive an advance against future royalties. Traditional publishers do all of the production work for you—editing, cover design, interior design, and so on—as well as handling the distribution, all at no cost to you. 

2. Self-publishing, also known as independent or indie publishing. This is when you publish your book yourself by handling all of the work or hiring subcontractors, such as editors or cover designers, to help you. Or you may hire a project manager to coordinate everything. The cost to self-publish ranges from minimal (if you do all the work yourself) to hundreds and even thousands of dollars, depending on how much you outsource. 

3. Hybrid or pay-to-publish. These are publishers that offer many of the same services that traditional publishers do but charge their authors. The term hybrid comes from combining traditional publishing services with the author-pay model, which used to be known as vanity publishing. While they might earn some money from book sales, the revenue of most hybrid publishers comes from what authors pay for services. Hybrid publishers may also be called self-publishing service companies (SPSC). The terms under which hybrid publishers operate vary tremendously by company, so if you’re considering this route, shop around and do your homework. For an author, this is the most expensive type of publishing.

Something most people don’t realize is that traditional publishers did a form of pay-to-publish long before today’s more transparent model became established. Instead of writing a check to the publisher, authors would guarantee to buy copies (often as many as 10,000-50,000) of their book as part of their publishing agreement. Frequently those publishing contracts would include an advance, but when the authors bought their copies, the publisher made back the advance and more. Whatever the publisher sold over what the author had agreed to buy was a bonus for them. This was a common arrangement with people who were speakers and could count on substantial back of the room sales at events or people who used their books as a marketing tool. Several of my ghostwriting clients over the years negotiated these types of book deals. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it’s still happening.

Five publishing industry truths

Before we get into the nuts and bolts of publishing a book, let’s take a look at the publishing industry in general. Here are some truths you need to know:

1. There is no magic formula for success. This industry is run by humans, they’re all different, and they all make subjective decisions based on their own life experiences. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong. Most of publishing is a matter of guesswork—and luck plays a big role. 

2. Money and profits rule. Publishing is a business. Traditional publishers have to make a profit to stay in business, and most of their profits come from book sales. They have to be confident a book will sell before they accept it for publication. Hybrid or pay-to-publish operations make most of their revenue from authors. No matter what they say about your book’s potential, if you’re paying to get your book published, these publishers don’t take any chances—they get paid upfront from the authors. Money and profits are important in indie publishing, too. Your book may be a literary masterpiece but you can’t produce it without considering the financial side of the project.

3. The competition is tremendous. No one knows for sure how many books are published each year, but it’s a lot. Many industry observers think it’s more than one million. Book marketing expert Penny C. Sansevieri says it’s more than 4,500 per day. And your competition is not just all those other books—it’s movies, television, sports, games, and anything else a potential reader might spend time doing instead of reading your book.

4. Marketing a book takes a lot of work. Even great books by established authors need to be marketed. Whatever publishing route you choose, you’re going to have to market your book or it won’t sell. 

5. Not everyone will love your book. In fact, some people will hate it, and they’ll leave nasty reviews. Your feelings will be hurt. Learn to deal with it.

Advantages of self-publishing

Each of the publishing models—traditional, self-publishing (independent), and hybrid—has its advantages and drawbacks. Let’s take a look at the specific benefits of publishing your book yourself.

First, you have total control. Even though traditional publishers will consider your input, they have the final say over everything, including the title, the manuscript, the cover and interior design, scheduling, and so on. You’ll have input, but they make the final decision. When you self-publish, you have the final say. 

Second, you get to keep all the money your book earns. A traditional publisher will usually pay you an advance for your book—typically a few thousand dollars—and then you’ll earn royalties based on a percentage of the sale price of the book. Royalty rates are somewhat negotiable, but they’re generally in the 12 to 15 percent range. When you function as your own publisher, the difference between the sale price and your cost is yours. So let’s say your book sells for $20 and costs $4 a copy to produce. With a traditional publisher, you’ll earn about $3 on every sale; if you self-publish, you’ll receive $16. 

Third, you can get a self-published book on the market quickly. The time to market for traditional publishers is usually eighteen months to two years from contract signing. When you self-publish, your book is available as soon as it’s written and produced.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of self-publishing is that you can actually get your book published. It’s more difficult than ever for an unknown author to get a contract with a traditional publisher, especially for a book that has a narrow market. While self-publishing works for any type of book, it’s particularly effective for niche books and books with a concentrated regional appeal. Many authors self-publish with the hope of getting a traditional book deal down the road. That happens. It’s not unusual for traditional publishers to approach the indie author of a book that’s doing well. Many successful authors use a combination of self-publishing and traditional publishing throughout their careers.


The Simple Facts About Self-Publishing: What indie publishers need to know to produce a great book is an introduction to independent publishing that tells you what you need to know to produce a quality book that will delight your audience and meet your goals. You’ll learn the most common mistakes self-publishers make, how to avoid them, and how to produce a book that will look as good or better than the ones from top traditional publishers.

The Simple Facts About Self-Publishing gives you the knowledge you need to make the best decisions for your book, find the right resources and avoid getting ripped off. Available on Amazon or ask your favorite local bookstore to order it for you.



Jacquelyn Lynn is the author or ghostwriter of more than 45 books. She has been traditionally published and is an independent publisher and publishing consultant. Connect with her at CreateTeachInspire.com.


Subscribe to Jacquelyn’s popular weekly email, Shareable Saturday: 10 Seconds of Inspiration to Wrap Up Your Week, at CreateTeachInspire.com/ss.


 Howard-Johnson is the multi award-winning 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 multi award-winning The Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromoIII), now offered in its third edition by Modern History Press. Carolyn's latest is in the #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. She has two booklets in the #HowToDoItFrugally Series, both in their second editions from Modern History Press. Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers (http://bit.ly/LastMinuteEditsII) and The Great First Impression Book Proposal (http://bit.ly/BookProposalsII) are career boosters in mini doses and both make ideal thank you gifts for authors. The one on writing book proposals is also available as an Audio Book. The Frugal Editor (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditor), now in its second edition, is the winningest book in the series. Carolyn also has three frugal books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it helps 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 (http://bit.ly/RetailersGuide). In addition to this blog, Carolyn helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com). Learn more and follow for news on her new releases direct from Amazon at http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile.

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