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Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing
As I'm sure you've noticed if you've been following the publication stories this week, there are a variety of ways to publish a book. There is no "right" path; rather, authors find the path that's right for them.
There are two very general terms we use when describing publishing routes: traditional and indie. While I opted for the indie route and have no regrets, I can see the pros and cons of each.
Cons of Traditional Publishing:
-It can take years from start to finish.
-Some publishers require authors to hire an agent to present the book to the publisher.
-Rejection letters are a thing. Although I don't have the numbers, I suspect the number of rejection letters is higher than the number of acceptance letters. (If you receive one, don't give up. Many brilliant authors were rejected initially.)
-Depending on the publisher, you may have little to no creative input.
-Sometimes editors require changes in your book that you disagree with.
-Publishers often take a large percentage of the royalties (I've heard some take 95%).
-You may be required to give the publisher the rights to your book.
Cons of Indie Publishing
-You're, essentially, on your own. It can be overwhelming and isolating.
-There are specific skills needed (e.g., graphic art for the cover) so you either need to hire others or learn them yourself.
-Hiring others can become expensive; learning on your own takes time.
-Indie books have an unfortunate reputation of being poor quality, so yours will need to stand out as an exception.
-Marketing the book is completely on your shoulders. You can of course hire this, if your budget allows it.
-Indie books are considered successful if you sell about 500 copies. Most don't. If you do, you'll likely earn about one or two thousand...not enough to live on.
I brought up the negative aspects first so I could leave you with the positives.
Pros of Traditional Publishing
-You have a support team for every part of publishing.
-There is no initial cost to publish; you're paid a portion of the royalties.
-You have help with marketing (exactly how much depends on the publisher).
-Traditionally published books have a reputation for being high quality. Once you receive your acceptance letter, you have very little left to prove.
Pros of Indie Publishing
-Books can be published in as little as a month (though I do recommend taking your time in favor of quality).
-You retain creative freedom. No change is made to the book or the design without your consent.
-You keep 100% of the royalties.
-You keep all of your rights to your book.
Publishing a book is a rewarding experience. While I want to give realistic expectations, I wouldn't dissuade anyone from pursuing it. Although fame and fortune from publishing are unlikely, there are intangible rewards. Publishing a book gives a sense of accomplishment like nothing else can. Fan mail is always a delight. And seeing your words in print is an indescribable moment.
Whether you publish traditionally or independently, I'm excited for your journey. I would love to help if you have any questions along the way. Feel free to contact me at Info@rivershorebooks.com.