Get Your Message In Front of Your Target Audience
If you are going to empower others by publishing a book, you have to decide how you want to publish it and in what format. As an author, you have a number of options available to you. Most people believe you have two options: self-publishing or traditional publishing. You have many more.
I Am a Best-Selling Author
If you can prove you have sold a number of books, you could easily go for traditional publishing. By traditional publishing, I am referring to Random House, Simon and Schuster, McGraw Hill, etc. The old publishers who have been publishing books for centuries. These publishers are picky about whom they use as their authors. They almost always require a manuscript to be submitted by an agent. They usually pay advances based on what they believe they can sell. And, they will do all the work for you. However, if your books are not sold from a bookstore, the bookstore will return them to the publisher and the publisher will deduct it from your royalties. These publishers are not really looking for unknown authors or new people to sign. They prefer the best-selling authors.
I Have a Lot of Money to Spend
Many people confuse vanity presses with self-publishing. These are not really publishers. At vanity presses, you give the company a lot of money to get your book to market. The presses are best-known for marketing packages than publishing. They will help you edit it and design the cover, but each service costs money. When you finally get your book out, you have spent a lot of money and need to recoup it. You don’t always.
I Don’t Want to Pay for Returns
A number of traditional publishers are opening print-on-demand divisions. These are great for unknown authors because they can publish their books without having to pay the vanity presses or get an agent. Although print-on-demand publishers don’t pay advances, they do pay royalties. They also don’t require payment from returns because returns are not accepted. With print-on-demand, the publisher will print only what stores order. Therefore, if Barnes and Noble orders two copies of your book, they are the only two printed. You as the author don’t have to pay to print them unless you are ordering your own copies. The print-on-demand publishers also handle design, editing and other services for free.
I Want to Do Everything Myself
True self-publishing happens when you the author compiles the book, picks the paper, sets the layout, edits the content, designs the cover and gets the print copies. The two most popular self-publishing companies are CreateSpace by Amazon and IngramSpark by Ingram. Both of these are good companies to use. By publishing with CreateSpace, you will immediately show up on Amazon.com, the largest online bookseller. When you publish through IngramSpark, you can be added to Ingram’s catalog, which goes to bookstores and libraries around the world. The problem with self-publishing is that bookstores are not going to put you in their stores. They also want the best-selling authors. Self-publishing is beneficial to those people who want to keep all their rights unless they sell them or want to target a market outside a bookstore. If you self-publish, you should get a professional editor to edit your manuscript and get a professional book designer to design the cover of the book.
What Are My Format Options?
Like the types of publishers, you also have options on formats. You can choose electronic books, print books, audio books, a combination of those or serial books.
Print Books — Most people understand what a print book is. However, you can choose trade softcover, hardcover or mass market paperback. Trade softcover is the most popular, especially for self-publishers. These books are usually 6×9 or 5.5×8.5 with a paperback cover. They are not costly to print and are professional-looking. Although they used to be reserved for publications from trade organizations, that is not the case anymore. Now, it refers to the printing trade. The hardcover are usually published by traditional publishers although more and more are getting rid of them even for best-selling authors. Hardcovers cost too much to print. Mass market paperback are usually printed by a company overseas. These are the softcovers you see in supermarkets or Walmart. Again, usually traditional publishers and mass-market publishers are doing the publishing. You also can choose large print text, which are hard or softcovers geared for older adults or people with poor eyesight. Some books work better as electronic books.
Electronic Books — E-books have grown in popularity because people can read them on electronic readers, smart phones, tablets, computers, cloud, etc. Two types of E-books are on the market. The first type is an electronic version of a print edition, either fiction or nonfiction. The second type is used as a marketing tool. Companies are publishing E-books to promote their businesses, websites, products, etc. These are usually shorter than the electronic version of the print edition.
Audio Books — These started out as books for the blind. However, now they are for anyone who wants to listen to a book instead of reading it. The popularity of iPads, smart phones and older technology, such as Walkmans, led to an explosion in audio books. Amazon now has a publishing division for audio books. You need someone with a good voice to read the book. Most of these are audio versions of print books, but you can produce an audio-version of a book without having a print version.
Serial Books — These are not published. They are placed in blogs on a chapter-by-chapter basis. They are usually designed to attract agents or publishers, build up your credibility, or get you marketing for your business.
The format you use and the publishing type you choose depends on the type of book, your goals for writing it and other factors. Talk with a writing consultant about these options.
For more from Louise Harris visit our Conscious Book Corner.