So you have a manuscript that is very important to you. A message you want to get into the world. Or some memories you want to put in a permanent book form. You’re looking for a publisher. But what kind of publisher are you looking for? A traditional publisher? Maybe you are thinking to self-publish? Did you know there’s another option? Assisted Independent Publishing. Let’s take a look at the deep and meaningful’s of these options.
A Traditional Publishing Contract
A traditional publishing contract is the most common way books have been published for decades. It means that the author is selling their work to the publishing company. The publishing company then creates a book product out of the manuscript and sells it for profit. From that, the author will receive royalties (usually around between 8–12 percent of the sales) as payment for their work. Furthermore, traditional publishing contracts tend to bring the author more credibility in the professional world. So what is the process? Simply put;
- An author has a manuscript (or an idea for one),
- They write a proposal and submit it to a publishing company for consideration.
- If the publishing company likes the idea and has the time and space in their schedule to produce it for profit, they’ll accept the proposal and draw up a publishing contract. However, they could reject the proposal and the author can send the proposal to another publishing company.
A few things to note
The publishing company owns the book and is looking to sell it for profit. They are in charge of the editing of the book, meaning they will make corrections, expand or delete material in the book as needed. Therefore, they will do what they can to make the book as attractive to as many book buyers as possible.
In addition, they will also manage the layout and design of the book, and organize the printing of the book. They handle the distribution of the book to bookstores and retailers and to both online and brick and motor stores. They also help convert the book into an eBook.
The most important fact is that the publisher puts up all of the money for the production, the printing, and the distribution.
What may come as a surprise is that the author responsibilities are quite vast, especially in promotional activity. Publicising the book at book events, online, to personal and professional contacts, etc. This is just the beginning of the journey. Website development, social media, media kits, video marketing, the list of marketing that your publisher will not undertake is long.
In saying that, the publishing company will provide publicity and marketing support. This comes in the form of media activity, reviews, and promotion to online and physical book stores.
If the author wishes to sell some of their book at events, they will purchase copies from the publisher. These copies will be priced usually at a 50 percent discount. Following, the author then sells the book for full price to make some extra money.
In most cases, not all, the author will usually receive an advance payment on their royalties when the contract is signed. The author will receive royalty payments on the sales of their book. This occurs once every six months after the advance payment is returned to the publisher. Royalties are paid as long as the book remains in print and is selling.
With a traditional publishing contract, the publishing company takes all of the financial risks of the book. Therefore, they have most of the control over the product, how it is packaged, distributed and sold. The publisher also has the right to refuse a proposal for a book if they do not feel it is right for their company.
Self-publishing has received a lot more attention in recent years as access to tools to publish have become more accessible. It puts the financial responsibility, the control, the process all in the hands of the author. When self-publishing, an author can create a product to sell on their own. They can then give to family members or organisations, or use to spread their message. The company acts as a service provider and isn’t likely to turn down a job if the client pays for it.
An author usually has a completed manuscript ready to go. They will then make an arrangement with a self-publisher for a quote on various services to publish the manuscript. The publishing company will then oversee the layout and design of the book. Editing and cover design may also be services agreed to be provided if the self-publishing company offers them. Furthermore, the publishing company will print the desired amount of copies and send them to the author. The author is now in complete charge of the sales and distribution of their books.
A few things to note
Through self-publishing, complete ownership of the book, final say over the design and layout is with the author. In addition, the author also has complete control on pricing the book and where it will be sold. Additionally, the edits are decided by the author, nothing is added or taken away without approval. The message remains exactly as the author wrote it and wants it delivered. They can also print as many or as few books as desired.
The financial risk of publishing and printing the book is the author’s responsibility. As is the marketing and publicity for the book. and distribution. This may include selling via a personal website, bookstores, online channels, or converting the item to eBook,
Storing the books or paying for any reprints when the book sells out is also included in the responsibility list. Some companies who offer self-publishing may offer other services for a fee, like storing the book in a warehouse. The author would pick up the books needed as they are needed.
Assisted Independent Publishing
This method of publishing is a refreshing and innovative option to bring a book to life. Whilst the financial responsibility of making the publication happen is still with the author, the control and process are shared. Through Assisted Independent Publishing the editorial and design elements are only managed by trained and qualified people. Specifically in editing where, unlike self-publishing, several people are involved. The printing of your books is managed through specialist book printers. The entire focus is to lift the quality and standard of your book above a self-published title. In brief, the publishing process is much like a traditional journey. However, the author holds all intellectual property and final say.
Some independent publishing houses offer writing guidance, manuscript appraisals, and other services to nurture your skills as a writer. Furthermore, they tend to be very active in the application of marketing support and guidance. Along with the above, Assisted Independent Publishers usually have add-on services. These could include distribution, audiobook development, eBooks, digital marketing and more.
Basically, the process of Assisted Independent Publishing is a shared journey between both author and publisher.
A few things to note
Through Assisted Independent Publishing, the ownership of the book, other than the title registration, is with the author. The reason is that the publisher will be likely tapping into established networks who expect industry standard books. By having the ISBN registered with the publisher, that expectation is assumed. In addition, the publisher will guide the author on the retail price of the physical book, eBook and audio. They will ensure the author is aware of the targets and goals required to meet to ensure a return on investment. Joint accountability is in place within the marketing process. Therefore, both the author and publisher have their responsibilities that align to achieve the highest impact possible.
Communication, financial investment, and commitment are all needed when embarking into Assisted Independent Publishing. The publisher needs proactive authors who will act on their guidance and mentoring to ensure the book has the best chance of success.
Authors are required to communicate efficiently and honestly. This is so the team can respond in kind and work fluently through both the publishing and marketing journey.
How to choose your publisher?
Specifically, if you are looking to self-publish or contract with an Assisted Independent Publisher, due diligence is required. Do your research.
- Google the publisher’s name or company name and ‘bad reviews’ or ‘good reviews’.
- Check they are affiliated with reputable organisations within the industry. For example, the Australian Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, Small Press Networks or the equivalent in your territory.
- Don’t rely on website written reviews. Look for video testimonials, Google or Facebook reviews. People tend not to put their face or links to testimonials unless they are accurate. Website written reviews are often not accurate and are not enough to rely on.
Furthermore, here is a popular global link to where certain self-publishing companies and independent publishers have received public feedback. There is the good, the bad and the ugly. Make your choice based on those who have walked the journey before you.
Finally, below is a video explaining the processes and benefits of your choices. Traditionally publish, self-publish or work with an assisted independent publisher. Whatever your choice, make it wisely. Bring your book to life the best way that works for you!