Authors, Publishing and Terminology... Oh My!
You confused in which way to publish today? And for that matter, what are the publishing options? Traditional publishing, self-publishing and independent publishing are tossed in the air with the flick of the tongue. Just what are they? Authors feel like they are going bonkers with the choices, that unfortunately, lead to plenty of disillusionment.
Traditional publishing is the easiest to get... and digest. The biggies in the field today are: Simon & Schuster, Wiley, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House and Macmillian. They acquire authors and manuscripts. They promise to publish your book, do some editing, cover and interior design, print it and maybe, maybe some publicity and marketing. In return, you may get an advance-which means they give you up-front money that is an advance payment against/toward future royalties. The good news is that if the book doesn't do so well, you keep the money. The bad news, it's not usually a lot and the process takes many, many months-sometimes years to see additional moneys.
The real confusion and culprit is in the "self-publishing" terminology. It's misused and bastardized on a daily basis.
Self-publishing is well, self-publishing-the DIY model. And, it has lots of modes you can take. It gets interchanged with Independent publishing (or Indie publishing as many call it). One of the key differences between the two is that "self" is usually on a smaller production scale-the "indies" think nothing of print 1,000 plus copies and selling all of them... and back to print. The self-publishing author is thinking that 100 is a BIG step.
Independent publishing You, the author, handle all the details under your own name/company-your imprint. You hire designers, illustrators, editors, printers and anyone else to create your masterpiece. Yes, all costs are yours, but you also get the difference between cost and selling point (If the cost of printing a book is $3.25 and you resell it for $15, you put $11.75 in your bank account). Authors who transitioned into the Independent publishing model are serious authors, understanding the business side of publishing.
Pay-to-publish is when YOU pay a company to do the publishing process. You can pay them to get editing done, the cover, the layout, the publicity and the marketing. You have much more control than with traditional, but all costs are out of pocket. YOU PAY ALL. Even though you are footing the bill, you still get royalties (a percent of the cover price-some gloat that they pay the best rates, like 20 percent). Not much here... and the quality is well, questionable. Many of the "pay to publish"-which includes Author Solutions, Author House, LuLu, Red Dog, Tate (I'm working on getting two authors out of a very messy situation/disaster with Tate as I write this), Balboa, Westbow, iUniverse, XLibris-the author sells an average of 100 book-100!!!! Ugh to that. The pay to publish crowd routinely say "self-publish"... it is not. It is a business that takes just about any author who has got a checkbook or credit card, fills in the necessary paperwork, submits the necessary Word documents to their process... and voila... a book is created.
My advice... if you are going to do all the intellectual work, need to save money, find resources that don't suck you in for the $297 or $397 or $577 or whatever their "cheap" lure is and then you get hit with all the "up-selling." Always Google the name of the company-add "complaints," "scams," and or "problems" behind it and read... dig down.
It's Easy to Get Lost in Publishing Terminology
Dear, Dear Authors... if you are going to do the work of writing a book... you are going to market you book-NO ONE else is-thinking that another publisher-traditional or the pay-to-publish crowd will-it is today's author fantasyland... if you don't land a deal with a traditional publisher.. bypass "pay to publish"... you are going to end up coughing up several thousand dollars by the time you are done; end up with a so-so product (as one of the AuthorU.org members said about Tate, "A 5-year-old could have made a better cover."; and then you fumble with what to do next. If you are going to end up spending several thousand dollars, invest in learning about publishing and "buy" what you need to create your vision.
If money is a challenge-at least get your book edited; have a professional cover designer create your cover; get the interior laid-out by someone who does interiors-you will spend a few thousand dollars if you do it RIGHT and it will be money well spent... then you can go the cheap route: have your interior designer load up to Create Space-at least you've get the visuals of a solid book on your side and the content solid-you've got mammoth Amazon there ready to do the POD print and you can buy the book for most likely less than $3 a copy (less than the pay-to-publish model-trust me here). Amazon can then create the eBook in a nano-second for mini-costs.