Saturday, September 24, 2016

"Publishing: Traditional, Subsidy, Indie"

Traditional publishing is done through a publishing house that will pay you an advance against the royalties that your book will earn. Because they are taking much of the financial risk, they are cautious about what writers they will publish. They will exert considerable authority over your manuscript’s contents. It may be a year or two from submittal to printing. If they accept your book, they will print thousands, lowering their cost per page. They once did much book promotion, now less. Generally you will need an agent who will approach them and vouch for you and handle the subsequent negotiations. Getting an agent is usually hard, as they do not want to waste their time on someone whose book is not likely to sell well. They get a percentage of the royalties/advance. If you are a celebrity, they will even pursue you. If not, you take your chances with query letters and sample chapters. Many books are available on these topics.

Subsidy publishers, like Outskirts Press that I have used, will publish your book because you pay them to set it up, and they get some money from every copy sold. Although they want to keep their reputations intact, and thus won’t publish just anything, they are much more likely to publish an unknown or a newcomer than are traditional publishers. They use Print on Demand technology and will print as few as five books at a time. You won’t be stuck with a closet-full or a garage-full, but the cost will be around three cents per page. They will set up an author page for you, and they will offer a variety of editorial and promotional materials and activities for additional fees, but they will do minimal promotion for almost all their books.

Indie (independent) publishers will charge less than subsidy publishers and accept a wider range of materials, doing near-zero promotion. Depending on additional services, the costs are likely to be lower still than the other two options. Be sure to check, however.


Excerpted from my Write Your Book with Me,  published by Outskirts Press in paperback and ebook formats, and available from OP and online booksellers like and Write Your Book with Me

My writing-editing-coaching site is

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