Hello everyone and welcome to this episode of The Business School for Writers Podcast!
Are you ready to learn how to publish your book without feeling overwhelmed and confused?
We know there are many decisions a writer must make before putting their book out into the world. We also know this can be an intimidating process and that deciding which form of publishing is right for you depends on your goals and preferences.
This is why today, we want to break down the three different categories available when it comes to publishing your book.
In this episode, we about the five big publishing houses in the English-speaking world and what their role is, what independent publishers and small presses you can find out there, the pros and cons of traditional publishing, the benefits of self-publishing, the hybrid or the third-option publishing process, and much more!
If you haven’t listened to episode 8 where I interview literary agent Elise Capron, then go back and check it out! It’s all about Publishing in the time of COVID!
I want to know who you are and where you’ve been! Come hang out with me in the Writers Squad Facebook group and over on Instagram @laurenmariefleming. I can’t wait to chat with you there!
You can also stay tuned for new weekly episodes @businessschoolforwriters, and if you want to spread the love even further, consider subscribing, rating, and reviewing!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
– Get my 3 secrets to guaranteed publishing success HERE! P.S. They’re FREE!
– Independent book publisher association hybrid publisher criteria: https://www.ibpa-online.org/page/hybridpublisher
– If you’re looking for a hybrid publisher, check out https://shewritespress.com/ and see what they’re all about.
– If you need help choosing what publishing type is right for your book, then head over to https://businessschoolforwriters.com/publishingquiz
Book recommendation of the week:
– Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Grab a copy of this book from your local bookstore through this link: Shop your local indie bookstore
– Love audiobooks? Listen on Libro.fm and support independent bookstores. Plus, use this link and we both get a free audiobook: http://libro.fm/referral?rf_code=lfm116869
– Wondering why we don’t link to Amazon? Check out Episode 2 of the Business School for Writers Podcast to hear all about how supporting independent bookstores helps you see more stories like yours out in the world.
Are you completely confused by all the options out there to publish a book?
Self-publishing, traditional publishing, hybrid, third option! It seems like every day there’s a new way to get your book published, and yet all of them feel so overwhelming.
You are not alone! I see so many friends, clients, and followers so paralyzed by the decision of how they’re going to publish their book that they give up and sit with their book tucked away in a lonely corner file on their computer.
But fear not! There’s hope! I’m about to break down each type of publishing for you so you can get over analysis paralysis and get your book out into the world!
There are many options for publishing your book, but most of them fall into one of three categories: traditional, self, and hybrid.
We’re going to start with traditional publishing, because that’s what most of us are familiar with.
Want to get your book on the New York Time’s Best-Seller List? With extremely rare exception, you’re going to need to go through a traditional publisher.
Traditional publishing is broken into two main categories: publishers and presses.
In the past, a publisher was a larger corporate entity and a press was a smaller, independent entity. However, nowadays most of the presses have been consumed by one of the big 5 publishers.
The Big Five Publishing Houses are:
Penguin Random House
Hachette Book Group
Simon and Schuster
Most publishing in the English speaking world goes through one of those five publishing houses or one of their affiliates. For example, Knopf Doubleday, Crown Publishing, and Viking Press are all imprints of Penguin Random House, which has over 200 divisions and subsidiaries.
These five houses determine who gets a voice and who doesn’t. Which is awesome if you’re a voice they choose, and really shitty if you’re not.
There are still some amazing independent presses out there helping to amplify marginalized voices. These include Catapult Books, Graywolf Press, and McSweeney’s Books.
Now you may be thinking that those Big 5 are a better bet for you, with all their money and power behind them, but those independent publishers and presses are actually rather powerful places to foster your creative talent and support the sales and marketing of your book.
It’s all subjective to the individual situation and deal that’s made for you and your book.
The benefits of a traditionally published book are:
Advance — Which be anywhere from $1 to $1 million, depending on you and your book, but averages around $30,000. This is paid out in three installments: when you sign the book deal, when you turn in your final draft, and when your book is published. So don’t expect it all at once whatever that number is.
Editors and Designers — You get a whole series of editors and designers looking over your book before it goes out, making sure it looks polished and professional. This is all paid for by the publisher, which is helpful because that can get expensive.
Sales and Marketing – You have the support of a team of marketers helping you along the way. Yes, you still have to take charge of your own marketing plan, but having support makes it feel less lonely and overwhelming.
Access and Credibility – You’re more likely to get in with big book sellers like Costco, Target, and Barnes and Noble, and the press you need to get on the best-sellers lists usually comes from big houses.
However, I also know plenty of people who went with a traditional publisher and felt completely alone in the process and felt like they got none of the above from their experience.
Here’s what you lose when you go with a traditional publisher:
Agents – 99% of publishers will only take pitches from literary agents, meaning you have to find one before you can even begin the publishing process, and you have to give up 15% of your profits to an agent. That said, I love the agents I’ve had. They’ve helped make my books better and helped me feel less alone in the process, so this isn’t always a bad thing.
Money — Unless your book is a runway hit, you will most likely see very little royalties after the publisher and your literary agent take a cut and your advance is paid off.
Time – From the time you start pitching to literary agents to the time your book in on shelves, you’re looking at 2-5 years. And that’s if things go super fast and you don’t need major edits.
These issues with traditional publishing are why so many people, especially entrepreneurs writing non-fiction books for their existing readers, are opting for self-publishing.
So let’s talk about self-publishing.
While we think of self-publishing as a product of the rise of the Internet and ebooks, it’s actually been around since the invention of the printing press. We used to call them “vanity presses,” and were often seen as something rich people did when they have a crappy book no one wanted to read.
That is no longer the case. I’m actually not sure that was ever the case, but it’s just those crappy ones that stand out in our head.
The truth is, there are some really horrible self-published books out there. There are also some really horrible traditionally published books out there. It’s all about the quality of the product you’re creating. So, if you’re worried that your self-published book is going to look amateur and unprofessional, go listen to my episode called 3 Steps to Making Sure Your Book is Ready to be Published.
Once you have a polished book, we can let go of that self-publishing stigma and look at the true pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional.
Here are the benefits of self-publishing:
Time — You could potentially get your book out into the world today if needed. My self-published book was edited, illustrated, and out in the world within three months of me deciding to write it. I have books I’ve decided to traditionally publish that are still years away from getting there.
Money – Besides transaction fees, you keep everything you make on sales. I know many people, especially entrepreneurs, who have made a significant amount of money self-publishing. I know very few traditionally published authors who have made close to those numbers.
Control – You decide everything with self-publishing, from what the cover looks like to who you sell your book to. Which for some of us control freaks is amazing and a major plus, and for others will be overwhelming.
Flexibility – You can publish it now and then change it later if you want. There’s a lot more flexibility to do that with self-publishing and very little with traditional publishing.
Sound amazing? Well don’t get too excited yet, because there are some downfalls to self-publishing.
Access and Credibility — With rare exceptions, you’re not going to see your self-published book at major booksellers or on the New York Times best-seller list. There’s just still too much of a stigma against them and you don’t have the weight of a major publisher behind you helping you get in those doors.
Support – You are all alone in this process. From editing to sales and marketing, if you want support, you have to go find it yourself. But don’t dismay, because support is out there! A great place to start is my Writers Squad Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/writerssquad.
Money – While you make more on the back end in self-publishing, you also front all the costs of editing, design, printing, marketing, etc. I’m going to go into what that looks like numbers-wise in a future episode, but it cost me about $5,000 to self-publish my book Bawdy Love: 10 Steps to Profoundly Loving Your Body, so it’s not cheap.
As you can see, there are some serious pros and cons to both self-publishing and traditional publishing. Which is why Hybrid Publishing is really exciting to me.
Hybrid publishing, also known as third-option publishing, is a combination of self-publishing and traditional publishing.
While they vary in what they offer, hybrid publishers basically walk you through the self-publishing process in exchange for a fee and/or a percentage of your sales. They help you find editors, designers, and a wider distribution. They help with quality control and make sure that your book is fully publish ready before it goes out into the world.
It’s a best of both worlds scenario and something I hope more people take advantage of in the future.
However, you have to make sure you’re not taken advantage of when you’re going through the process. When choosing a hybrid publisher, it is extremely important to make sure they’re a credible publisher, not just someone trying to take your money. Be sure to check out the Independent Book Publisher’s Association’s Hybrid Publisher Criteria before choosing one.
If you’re looking for a place to start, check out my favorite hybrid publisher, SheWrites Press.
So those are the three main types of publishing out there: traditional, self, and hybrid.
Which one is right for you? It depends on your goals for that particular book. I know people, myself included, who have done a mixture of all three in their publishing career. No one type of publishing is better than the other. It’s all about what will get you to the unique goals you have.
So, which publishing type is right for you and your book? Let me know in the Writers Squad Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/writerssquad.
Until next time, happy writing. I cannot wait to read your book!