Publishing Paths

Thursday, July 11, 2019
Just last week, I had a fellow author tell me that members of her local writing guild didn’t know the difference between small and vanity publishing. That surprised me, but then I realized that the world of publishing has changed a lot since I started writing. 

New types of publishing have come into being and new writers are writing.  What better reason to do a rundown of various types of publishers for our readers.

Social Media Publishing. No, this isn't a term I mentioned above but anytime you write and share your work through social media, you are taking part in social media publishing.  That's what we do on the Muffin blog.  That's also what our own Renee Roberson did when she shared her novel, Between, on Wattpad.  A popular social media presence, including success on Wattpad, can lead to a contract with an agent or a book deal with a traditional publisher.

Traditional Publishing. If you go the traditional route, you submit your work to a publisher who can accept or reject it. You do not pay to have your work produced. You get paid. Books and other media are produced by a team – you (writer and/or illustrator), editor, asst. editors, publisher, designer, copy editor, etc. Because of this, you don’t always make much money on your work but you are part of a talented team.  My books are traditionally published.

Large Publishers. Large publishers or the Big Five – Penguin Random House, MacMillan, Simon and Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins. Although these publishers pay a substantial advance, they expect you to earn it back and then some. They are in it for the money which isn’t always a bad thing. After all, if they make money on your book you make money. But authors at large publishers seldom have  a say in cover design or marketing choices. It can be very difficult to get your work in front of one of these editors if you don't have an agent.

Small Presses. Small presses don’t pay advances or pay only small advances. They have smaller print runs. These two factors means less financial investment for the publisher. For the author this may mean a slightly higher royalty than with a large publisher. May be specialty publishers focusing on health issues, art or another narrow area. I have a friend who publishes with Magination. Her books remain in print year after year and continue to earn her money. Publishers of this type are very different from . . .

Vanity or Hybrid Publishers. These publishers may agree to publish an author’s book but expect payment up front to defer the cost of printing the book or developing the app. Not only does the author not get an advance, they have to pay money to see their work developed. The pluses? They will design the book, possibly help with the marketing and distribute. The risks? Being charged too much or not getting promised services. Do your research before signing with a hybrid publisher. I had a hybrid publisher accept a book to develop as an app. They folded and I still feel like I may have dodged a problem.

Indie or Self-Publishing. You the author are responsible for and control everything. You write, find and pay for an editor, designer, and illustrator. You keep all of the profits but you also shoulder the financial burdens. You are also responsible for marketing your work and getting it in front of potential buyers. One of my friends does this by speaking and doing workshops at churches and booking a booth at the Working Women’s Survival Show. She makes a tidy sum when she gets a gig.

You don't have to chose one and only one type of publisher. I publish through traditional publishers and through social media. I have friends with small press books who have also self-published. 

The key is in finding what it right for you and for this particular manuscript. To find out more about these and other publishing options, check out Jane Friedman’s chart on this topic. Interestingly enough, I found it while I was preparing this post.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins July 22nd, 2019.


Margo Dill said...

Sue--great list. Did you see Jane Friedmann did something similar recently? It's so great to think of all our options.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Hi Margo,
I referenced it above. Always a good idea to review since things change and there are always new options.

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