April 20

Caution: Independent publishers

    There was a time when a writer could only become a published author when a traditional publisher tapped him on the shoulder and said, “You, I think we’ll make you an author.” There have been some historical instances of “vanity publishing,” when the writer paid his own way to have his book published (like Lewis Carroll of Alice in Wonderland), but for decades, this was looked down upon. Today, things are entirely different, and independent publishers have made authorship possible for so many writers. Independent publishers have also blurred the lines so much that most writers are extremely confused by all of the options.

    What are the ways to work with a publisher and how can you know you’re working with a quality publisher? Let’s tackle those questions, right here, right now, and I’ll let you know how you can ask me questions, live, in an upcoming webinar.

    Traditional publishing

    This is the model we’re all most familiar with. The writer submits a proposal (often through an agent) to a publishing house, and the publishing house either accepts or rejects the proposals. After a few years of pitching the proposal to dozens of publishing houses, the writer finds his perfect publisher, and he signs away his creative, legal, and financial rights to the book, in exchange for the publishing house fronting all the costs for the book’s production. The author and the publisher share the profits from book sales, 10% for the author.


    Basically, self-publishing is when a writer uploads her own text file and cover image to a distribution platform, like Amazon, iBooks, or Smashwords. Typically, the author is on her own. She writes the book alone, finds her own editors, finds her own designer for the cover, finds her own formatter to design the files, and finds her own marketing help. She’s the team lead of the project, and she manages every detail, from writing to launch. The writer fronts all costs and is responsible for every phase of the book production process, but the author retains all profits from book sales.

    Hybrid publishing

    Hybrid publishing is a blend of the traditional model and the self-publishing model. The writer submits a proposal to a hybrid publisher, which is accepted or rejected. Hybrid publishers are typically less specific about which books they’ll take, so after a few pitches, the writer usually finds a hybrid publisher fit. The writer chips in for the upfront costs of the book production and the hybrid publishing team walks the book through the full publishing process. The author may sign away some creative, legal, and financial rights of the book. The author and the hybrid publisher share the profits from book sales, 20/80, 30/70, 40/60, or 50/50.

    Team publishing

    This is a new and emerging model for publishing that has a lot of potential for the business-savvy writer. The writer hires the publishing team for an upfront fee. The publishing team walks the manuscript through editing, design, publication, and launch of the book. The writer and the team coordinate on a shared vision for the book and the book launch, but the team is responsible for making sure that all phases of the book production process. The author retains all creative, legal, and financial rights of the book. The author pays the upfront fee but then retains all profits from book sales.


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