I’m often asked about the pros and cons of traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. There’s hybrid publishing as well. So what does each entail? Here’s the short overview of what to expect.
First, lets talk about traditional publishing. It involves seeking a literary agent who will pitch your book to a reputable publisher. The top publishers do not accept unagented manuscripts. This means you must find a literary agent who believes in your book and agrees to represent you. This involves researching who is accepting submissions in your genre, crafting query letters, and making sure your book synopsis really hits the high notes. The agent then contacts various publishers with the goal of landing a contract.
- You, the author, pay the literary agent nothing out-of-pocket. Nada. Zip. Zilch.
- Instead, an agent gets a standard commission, meaning a percentage of your advance on sales, also known as an advance against royalties (what you are paid upfront by the publisher). The cut is usually 15%.
- Agents also generally take 20% of your overseas sales, and 20% on film and TV rights.
- In order for an agent to be successful, they need a good manuscript to pitch. This is why most authors hire a book editor for basic copy editing, or more robust editing based on the needs of the book. It’s an investment that can pay off… IF you want to impress an agent.
- Traditional publishing can take a long time. Finding a willing agent who, in turn, finds a willing publisher can takes months or even a year (or longer).
- Usually, you relinquish some control when the publisher takes over. Your content may be re-edited. Your book cover design, ISBN, bar code, back cover blurb, and even the details on your Amazon listing may be created by the publisher.
- The publisher wants your book to sell and will market it, but will also expect you to help. You should have a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram following as basic platforms to promote your book. You should also participate in virtual blog tours, book signings, podcasts, interviews and any other opportunity to publicize your book.
Take a look here for information about self-publishing and hybrid publishing.
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