The Pros and Cons of Traditional Publishers
Most authors would love to be published by a big New York or London publishing house, become a best-selling sensation, and have their book in bookstores and libraries all around the world. Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? So are there really any cons to traditional publishers?
First, a quick rundown of how traditional publishers work. You, the author, finish your manuscript, write a query letter, and send it off (sometimes with a synopsis and sample chapters) to an agent. If the agent likes it, he or she will send it off to an editor he has relations with (hopefully he’s not mailing it off blindly!) You wait. And wait some more. Wait long enough until you’re sure the editor has rejected it or fed it to his dog. But if you’re lucky—and talented, of course—the editor will pass it on to some of the other editors he works with. If all concerned are interested, the publishing house will buy the rights from you and pay an advance on future royalties (anywhere from $1000 to $10,000 for first-time authors). The house puts up the money to design and package the book, prints as many copies as it thinks will sell, markets the book, and finally distributes the finished product to the public. There are several advantages to taking this path to publication:
- The prestige of being backed by Simon & Schuster, St. Martins, etc.
- These guys are professionals at editing, printing, and distributing books.
- Their books are more easily accepted by retailers, libraries, and other outlets.
- Some marketing costs may be covered.
Again, sounds pretty good. But like most things in life, there is a flip side. Here are some cons in no particular order:
- You need an agent to avoid the slush pile!
- Lack of control over the process and the finished product. For instance, you might hate the cover but have no say to change it.
- The rights of the book are held by the publisher, which can include digital, audio, etc.
- If you don’t sell many books, you might be quickly forgotten and have a difficult time getting a second book signed, as publishers move on to the next big thing very quickly.
- Royalties are only 6-12% of net sales.
- And time. It takes 18-24 months (or longer) for a publisher to bring a book to market from contract to books in hand (I’m talking about fiction; non-fiction is often topical and can be rushed to press).
In conclusion, I write this article not because I’m advocating skipping the traditional route and becoming self-pubbed. But only to show that nothing is perfect, and that there are advantages and disadvantages to all forms of publishing.
Good luck with whatever avenue you take!
Thank you so much Jeremy for sharing this insight. Catch Jeremy at his own blog at http://jeremybatesbooks.
This is part one of a series of interviews for my blog tour through Indie Writers Unite. Look for the Support Indie Authors logo for further submissions. Please support these authors, check out their blogs and purchase their books. They are the best of the best. /Sue Owen.