Self-Publishing vs Traditional Publisher (What is Vanity and Hybrid Publishing?) Becoming an Author!
Updated: Jul 20, 2021
When I first started working on my book Reflections (conversations with God) I knew I wanted my book to connect with as many people as possible, but I did not know how to do that. I got stuck with some questions such as: would I use social media to market? would I need an agent? Do I own copyrights of everything I write? Etc. and the more I investigated the more confused I was. I did not know anyone that had successfully written and/ or published a book. I created this blog for those on this journey to help you make wise decisions, to help you make a profitable investment, and so you can become the best author you can be.
The first thing I learned was just like trying to get film work agents are important but not any agent; an established literary agent. A literary agent is a person who represents the writer (the talent). These agents work with reviewing your manuscript to ensure you meet best selling standards, they create pitch packages that drive larger publications companies to a new author especially those who do not take manuscripts directly from the author. Most great manuscripts have a pitch or summary representing the story and the vision behind it (I had a few pitches for my book). They have access to getting the author's deal advances with major publication companies. You become a successful author because the agent does not get paid unless you consistently write. Not all books require an agent and not all literary agents can help you become the author you envision. I decided not to look for an agent with this book seeing it is my first book and I honestly wasn't sure if I was committed to becoming an author. I wanted to prove to myself I can commit to a project and I was not looking to gain personal financial success. My book had 2 major parts; help me launch as an author and help raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which would not necessarily benefit an agent now keep in mind for future books moving forward not only will I have manuscripts for those books but I also can be viewed as “good business” because I manage to launch as an author successfully and I have a book to prove it; I can now make it easier for myself to get a great agent and my agent can speak on my behalf with more confidence demonstrating what I have accomplished. (not meaning this is the only way to go).
When I say not all books require an agent I mean it based on rather or not your book has a limited audience for example if you write a book on a plant-based diet for women over 60 your book has some limitations because it only serves a specific group of people and it is not worth putting a large investment into it unless you are not new to the public eye so as a major publishing company, it might not be wise to invest in a new author with these types of books. Here is where it gets interesting; depending on rather you use the traditional publishing method, or decide to self-publish that can influence financial gain. Most traditional publishers will give the author an advance. Book advances vs royalty checks differ greatly and here is why, If you wrote a book based on surviving emotional trauma which a large population of people can relate to, me as a major publishing company who has decided to publish your book can give you a book advance based on what I think the book will earn. Publishers base this on a few things primarily if they know this book will sell and how large of a publishing company they are. A royalty check is given when the author who is the copyright owner agrees to allow the book publisher to publish the book for a set amount and the publisher pays the author based on a percentage. In my case, I went with a do it for me publishing service company because I did not want to self-publish, and my book had some limitations as it is a non-denominational Christian book geared towards the new believer. The company works with discovering new Christian authors and they have a film company that can help you launch an indie film based on your book. I had no experience with what to do when creating my book outside of just writing it. The company offered a VP review which was an approval or denial process, editing, illustration – Typesetting, the cover design which included print cost, wholesale discount which is about 55% as the standard industry discount, and author/publisher profit overview. They also created a video trailer for promotional purposes and they worked with platform distributions such as Barnes & Nobles, Amazon, and iTunes to sell my book. Something that I knew nothing about was the book bar code which is what identifies your book for automated sales and inventory tracking. once the book had a code They created the PR marketing articles and a website to drive in customers, not only to them but my book. Because they are also international my book has been spread to international consumers. I recently discovered I can have my book appear as print copies to book fairs, library associations, and teacher associations that they are directly linked to which is information I would have not known as a self-publish author.
Currently, authors have several different types of publishing options, it is not only the traditional or self-publishing option and they all have their pros and cons. I recommend looking into each one and figuring out what works best for you. The first one would be traditional commercial publishing which is a major company such as Penguin Random House. They tend to be extremely selective and most do not take a manuscript from authors directly; they usually go via an agent. The only somewhat negative depending on how you look at is authors pay no upfront money in exchange for selling rights to the book and no control but, are paid royalties on sales and/or a book advance. Next would be self-publishing which means you keep all rights to your book, keep total control and get royalties for sales but in most cases, you do it yourself which includes editing, cover, typesetting, marketing, distribution, etc. I recommend this if you have a limited audience book and/or if you have the time and expertise to do this yourself. Some self-publishing small business companies offer some enhanced services in exchange to publish your book I would get different quotes on this nothing should exceed $4000 which is in the higher range of things. Another thing to consider with self-publishing is if you have a company offering other services or maybe a podcast/ large social media following you should consider creating a website and using the book to drive traffic to you and not use the large platform such as amazon because technically you are driving traffic to them. Third but not my favorite is Vanity press publishers which are somewhat new and are successful internationally. They usually present things as a traditional publisher but the authors end up paying for most services if not all and the author does not retain rights to the book. They tend to publish all books regardless of content. Usually, people who can’t get the book published anywhere else use vanity publishing. Not sure what pricing looks like, but it can sometimes be an insane amount of money from what I have read. Finally, the one I like a lot and I went with is Hybrid publishing it keeps some element of traditional publishing, but the revenue piece is different depending on the publishing house. In my case, I have control and rights to my book, but they did everything for me all I did was write my book and made suggestions. The only unchangeable piece for me was the PR article and platforms distribution. My investment was $3,000 which I found extremely reasonable for everything they offered and all I have gained.
Future Authors a few things to consider when writing your book is to make sure it is written from your heart. We want to connect with the story. Figure out who your audience will be because that will help you decide how to market your book. Figure out if you are looking for immediate financial gain or if you want people to know you as an author. Although we as writers want financial gain consumers have options and it is far better to build relationships not just get a sale that day; Longevity vs. a quick buck.
for a list of established literary agents Go to: https://www.literarymarketplace.com/lmp/us/agentsorglist.asp?id=6