(Transcript) – Do need a traditional publisher for your book?

Morgan MacDonald : Today we’re talking about traditional publishing versus self-publishing. I’m Morgan Gist MacDonald . I’m a writing coach, editor, and author. I help you write your book from vague idea to first draft to finished manuscript, and get it out into the world to build your business [and] platform…. Thank you for the hearts… If you like to talk about writing and publishing, and all things in between, hit the “Peri Buddy” down there [to] follow, [and] change that “plus” to a “check”, and it will let you know when I’m Scoping [so] you can catch the replays later. You guys already know [how to] tap hearts, and share out to your friend. If you know someone who is thinking about publishing a book – which most of us do – share to that person [so that] they can get this info.


So, the big question [is] : Do you need a traditional publisher? …


Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  Haha! Yup. Green hearts today!


Morgan MacDonald : …Thank you Shalon. I appreciate that…. Do you need a traditional publisher? Okay. So let’s, kind of, talk a little bit of background here. The major value of a publisher – and we’re talking especially the big guys : the Random House, and Harper Collins, and all that jazz – is that they have a TEAM for you. So when you submit your proposal, and it gets accepted, you get brought into the team. Like you have an assigned group [which includes] an assigned editor, and these people who take your project on as like a little package, and they make sure every PIECE of the package is totally covered. So they give you someone who will design the cover, edit the manuscript – SEVERAL times, like SIX times – proofread, format, and handle distribution too. So that’s at least five different pieces of the puzzle. We’re talking design, editing, proofreading, formatting and typesetting – those are big deals, especially for print – and distributing to like Barnes & Noble and the big book sellers. Okay?


So they give you a team, which is fantastic. I feel like a lot of times we’re really down on traditional publishers, but they make it easy for you once you’ve been accepted. They’re like, “All right. Great book! We’re going to take this, package it, and sell it.” So that’s really valuable, BUT for most first-time authors they expect YOU to do a lot of the marketing. This is, kind of, a little-known fact. I worked in a publishing house for a while –  [Lyn Miner?] Publishers, [which] is, kind of, a small publishing house – but the same principles apply. For first time authors they just don’t have the publicity staff to do full-on launches for every single author.


Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  Ooo! Didn’t know that!


Morgan MacDonald : … Oh yeah, Shalon, I did. It was fun. I was, kind of, a rookie, but [that] means I got to see some of the underbelly stuff [laughter]. Also, most people don’t know that the AUTHOR has to do a lot of the selling, because the publicity staff is fairly small. Even for the “big guys” the publicity staff is pretty streamlined. Just like everybody else, they’re trying to make sure that their publicity staff is at full capacity. So they’ve got a book coming out every single week, and one staff to handle every launch. Can they launch a book EVERY WEEK? No! So they’re going to pick. And who are they going to pick? They’re going to pick the James Pattersons, and the J.K. Rowlings, right? I mean, that’s just who they’re going to pick to focus their energy on. That’s FINE. It’s profitable for them. But it means that EVEN if you get PICKED by a traditional publisher, and they do the packaged deal for you, you’re still going to have the sell your own book, which is really intimidating [laughter].


Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  The popular kids.


Morgan MacDonald : … “The popular kids.”… It’s true. Okay. So, typically the traditional publishers will ONLY take on your book if they think that YOU, the AUTHOR, can sell 2,500 copies. That’s a minimum print run for profit viability – 2,500 copies. So they will LITERALLY ask you, “How many people are on your email list?”, “How many Facebook followers do you have?”, “How many Periscope followers…?” – they don’t ask about Periscope, YET [laughter]. “How many people come to your blog?”, “What’s your traffic like?”. They ask you all of those numbers, [then] they run those numbers, and they think, “Can this author sell 2,500 copies?” If the answer is “no” then they don’t publish you.


So, when you look at it from the publisher’s side, that’s a pretty big jump. Like to go from, “I’ve never written a book in my life.” to “I can sell 2,500 copies.” that’s pretty intimidating for most first-time authors. But that DOESN’T MEAN that your book is not worthwhile.


Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  This is so great to know.


Morgan MacDonald : … Yeah, Shalon. I know. It is… It’s just so funny, because it’s such common knowledge among publishing people, but writers don’t know this stuff. So I don’t know where this gap happens. So then the question that you have to think about is, “Okay, traditional publishing would be great, but they’re not going to take me if I can’t sell 2,500 copies in a short span of time.” That DOESN’T mean that your book is not worthwhile, and so here’s where I want you to start thinking about the opportunities around self-publishing.  


So if you think you can sell 1,000 copies of your book over the course of a year, that is not enough to make it worthwhile for a publisher, but it IS enough to TOTALLY change your business. Can you imagine [how] if you sell 1,000 copies to people who are interested in your niche, in your area, your expertise, suddenly they have been inside your little world. They know who you are. They KNOW you. And [out of] a thousand of those people, what if even a FRACTION of them become new clients in the span of a year? That’s AMAZING!


Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  So true!


Morgan MacDonald : …Thank you, Shalon. I’m glad you agree [laughter]… So what if you only SELL a thousand copies in a year? What if that book makes it into the hands of a colleague you really respect? And that colleague says, “Hey! I have this live event. Why don’t you come do a presentation at my live event?” Boom! [The] doors open. That’s HUGE for you. So I just don’t want you to get all wrapped around this idea of whether or not [your] book is good enough for a traditional publisher. It’s a NUMBERS game for them. Honestly.


So just because it isn’t “good enough” for a traditional publisher doesn’t mean that your book can’t do something amazing for your life. So even if you’re focusing on getting those first thousand copies out, that can STILL transform your business. My question is, “Maybe you don’t NEED a traditional publisher?” That’s TOTALLY doable these days. What it MEANS, though, is that you have to accumulate your OWN team. Remember those areas that we talked about where the publishers cover for you? You need to find your own team to do design. and editing, and proofreading, and formatting. I don’t know how to do distribution, [so] I do Amazon for my distribution [laughter] . But that’s a part of my team. [Also] someone to do the marketing, kind of, stuff FOR you. That’s all it takes, and honestly, this is really, really doable. You can get that team together for like $5,000, seriously. You will have to do a lot of work YOURSELF, but you have to do a lot of work yourself even if you’re traditionally published. So it’s going to be a lot of work – whether traditional or self. So the question is, “Do you WANT to publish, regardless of which avenue you take?”


So that’s, kind of, my TAKE on this right now. And usually when I talk to authors I’ll often say, “You know what? If you really, really are gunning for a traditional publisher, go for it! We’ll write a proposal, we’ll get it in, [and] see what they say.” If nothing else, they’ll give you feedback. You can always SUBMIT to a publisher, and especially if it’s a smaller house, they will often give you AT LEAST a letter that, sort of, says, “Maybe if we don’t accept it, here’s why…”


Shalon Ironwood : (https://twitter.com/ShalonIronroad )  Gotta pick up my girls. Such helpful info. Thank you!


Morgan MacDonald : … Okay. Thanks Shalon. Thanks for popping in… They’ll tell you why, and then you can take that feedback, and rework your manuscript a little bit, and make it BETTER. And that’s great! … Thank you for the hearts Shalon… So you can always submit [to] get that feedback, and then make changes. OR you can just self-publish. There’s no real downside to self-publishing anymore, because honestly, once you write one book you probably have MANY books in you. So you might self-publish your first, [second and third] books, and then once you’ve grown your audience you might get picked up by a traditional publisher. That’s a great win-win. That would be my encouragement to you guys today.       


So, as usual, I’m going to post Scope Notes on my web site [at]  : http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope , and you can grab those Scope Notes and replays. We are [also] trying to get Periscope writers together in a community so we can, kind of, support each other, join in each others’ Scopes, hop in, give comments, give hearts, and that kind of thing. So if you Scope and write, use this hashtag when you’re doing your titles : #periscopewriters ( https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=%23periscopewriters ). Also, I will add you to my Twitter list. I am trying to get a Twitter list together of all the Periscope writers. So that’s the plan guys [laughter]. I hope this was VALUABLE to you. If it was you can feel free to share out at any point, and it will send out to your Twitter list, or Periscope, or Facebook, and people can catch the replay. Or you can send them to my site.


So thanks guys. Now it’s still lunchtime, [so] you can do some writing.


Johnnie Alexander ( https://twitter.com/johnnie_alexndr ) : [I] did one this morning using [that] tag. Thanks for [the] encouragement to do that!


Morgan MacDonald : … You did one this morning using [the hashtag]…Oh, I saw that Johnnie. I was on the phone, but I’m going to go catch your replay. Thank you. Thanks for doing that…. Yeah. You guys go do some writing. Go think about how you’re going to publish. I would encourage you to definitely publish, whether it’s trying to go through traditional or doing self. Get your work out there. Get your words out in the world, because it will make such a difference.


Johnnie Alexander ( https://twitter.com/johnnie_alexndr ) : Thanks. I was nervous.


Morgan MacDonald : … You were NERVOUS Johnnie? Okay. I’m going to go watch it, and I’ll let you know. I’m sure you did great… Honestly, the first couple of mine were really terrible [laughter]. I don’t even think anyone was in the room with me, which was fine [laughter]. But it gets a lot better. Just keep doing it. Keep doing them. Just say, “Okay, I’m going to do THIS many a week.” and just make it happen. It will get a lot better [laughter]… Thank you for the hearts, Johnnie… All right. Yáll have a good afternoon, [and] go do some writing.  




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