The world of publishing has changed dramatically in the past decades, with more and more options available to authors today than ever before. Sometimes too many choices lead to confusion, or worse yet, inertia. Well, let’s weed through the options so that you’re sure to move forward and not stand still.
Since the dawn of books, there have been publishers who have brought an author’s words from text on a page to an actual book to hold. There are many things that a publisher actually does in getting the author’s words to potential readers, including:
- Editing the manuscript
- Book/page layout
- Cover art and layout
- Coordination of interior graphics
- Formatting/file conversion for eBooks and print
- Submission to online and off-line book stores and libraries
- ISBN numbers
- Library of Congress designations
- Book printing
- And more!
Traditionally, these types of services weren’t available to authors without the assistance of a publisher. Today, authors can opt to take on these responsibilities themselves in self-publishing their books. Self-publishing is a fabulous option for many, but depending upon the tech level of the author, such items may take many more hours than the author has—or wants to dedicate to the post-writing phase of their book.
Of course, along with all of the time—and expense—of transforming a book from mere words on a page to a “living, breathing book” in the hands of a potential reader, there are certain requirements and stipulations that come along with working within the “traditional” publishing world. Some things to consider include:
- Publishers need to make money too, and in order to cover their expenses, they’re looking to work with authors who have an established following and a strong probability of selling many—at least thousands—of books. (On a side note, the “average” book sells less than 250 copies per year/less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime!)
- Publishers make money when books sell, so the expected royalty to an author can be quite low.
- All creative decisions for a book belong to the publisher, as they have the final say over the cover design, title, and even text on the pages.
- If by chance a person wishes to make a movie of your book or some other additional distribution, you do not necessarily have the right to make such deals, as the publisher may retain all rights.
- Publishers have the right to take as much time as they want in bringing a book to market, and may even abandon a particular book project altogether, while still tying up all of the book’s rights.
While “selling lots of books” may be the ultimate goal for many authors, there are plenty of other reasons a person may desire to write and publish a book, including:
- for creative fulfillment
- to ensure the preservation of a family history
- to promote and further a business or career
- to use in workshops or training sessions that you deliver
- to sell at seminars and when delivering speeches
- to preserve and distribute a memoir of a family member
- to collect recipes, tips or other material—for fun, profit or to celebrate a milestone
These are all wonderful reasons to write a book, but unfortunately, since the benefits that come along with book publication in these cases are not dependent upon book sales, a traditional publisher would not gain financially, and would therefore not be interested in taking on such a project. In former times, that would signal the end of your book right there, but we live in times when there exist other options to bring your book to publication, aside from traditional publishing houses.
Along with traditional publishers and self-publishing, small press publishing, paid publishing services and hybrid publishers exist which bridge the gap between the two, offering authors options and possibilities which may be more suitable to their time and creative input. At Red Penguin Books, we offer both traditional and paid publishing services for authors, including everything from book development and coaching through format and even ghostwriting. Whether you have a manuscript all ready to go or a story still in your head, we help authors to achieve their publishing goals every step of the way. Visit RedPenguinBooks.com to learn more and get started on your road to publication today.