Getting published signifies a number of things. It is the reward and recognition of months or years of hard work on the author’s part. It has the potential of being financial rewarding. And it gets the author’s work out into the public, where anything can happen—from being made into a movie or getting on Oprah or Reese’s list of recommended reading.
These days, authors have a variety of options for being published. Between my business book, The Ultimate Startup Guide, and my two novels (Left for Alive and The Devil’s Breath) I’ve either explored or participated in most of the options. Hopefully my experiences will be of benefit to those of you facing the decision of being published.
Traditional Publishing: In the old days, a writer like Steinbeck would send his book off to his editor, who would have a publisher lined up, and Steinbeck could go back to writing his next book. Those days are over, unless you’re Steven King or a number of other best-selling authors. But for the rest of us, publication is just the start.
When my partner, Carol, and I wrote The Ultimate Startup Guide, we had an agent and a publisher. We thought they’d take it from there. Wrong. The first question they had was: how are you going to promote the book? We thought that was their job, but were quickly apprised of the new rules: the publisher gets your words down on paper and printed, but for the rest, you had better be skilled in self-promotion or have enough money to hire a PR firm—and one specializing in books. In our case, we found a good PR firm that had us doing a wide variety of interviews and podcasts—since our goal wasn’t to make money on this book but to enhance our reputation as startup experts, it was money well spent.
The other wake-up call with traditional publishing was the profit margin of each book. The Ultimate Startup Guide sold for $17.95. Once everyone in the process took their share, Carol and I saw $2.50 of that $17.95.
Based on the above experiences, if we write another book, we’ll look for an alternative to traditional publishing.
Hybrid Publishing: This is a good option for those who have the money but not the time to publish and promote their own books. Unlike self-publishing, where you have to be aware of and manage each step of the process, a hybrid publisher (often linked with a traditional publisher) will manage the entire process, including having a marketing staff that will promote your book. Time to market is half that of traditional publishing and you keep more of the money your book generates.
My own experience with hybrid came with my first novel, Left for Alive. Getting the book printed entailed one set of fees, promoting it was a second. I believe the first payment was money well-spent, the PR part of the process was a waste of time and money. They promised all kinds of ‘visibility’ for the book, but that usually meant must placing it in a thick giveaway piece, where your book is one of two or three hundred. My advice: if you want to avoid the involvement required of you by self-publishing, then go with a hybrid publisher to get your book out there. But contract with an independent PR firm for your promotion.
Self-publishing: I’m going to devote an entire blog to this one, since I’m right in the middle of bringing my new novel, The Devil’s Breath, to market. It comes out August 30 but is available now for pre-order.
All the best and stay tuned.