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In our last post we highlighted the basic differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing when it comes to author rights and content ownership. Today, we’ll continue that discussion as we focus on “control,” i.e., what control does an author have of his content and his publishing future in regards to each of these important publishing options?
Your publishing timeline:
What’s your timeframe for your book? Is your book a non-fiction reference book that has short-term market appeal? If so, you may want to think hard about your options. According to Cheryl:
“Typically, it takes anywhere from one to two years for a traditionally published book to get to the marketplace. Also, this does not include the time it takes for the author to get a publisher to say yes to the book in the first place which could be many more months or even years.
This being the case, an author needs to consider if that timeline makes sense for his/her project. For me time was an important issue as I wanted to write my book to help build a business. Due to the current economy, I didn’t have two years plus to wait for that to happen, so that was one reason I ultimately decided against the traditional route.”
To add another example to Cheryl’s comments, I’m currently working with author Ron Rhody to revise and update his book “The Soccer Book,” so that we can take advantage of the buzz that will surround June’s world soccer events. Since this short publishing and marketing timeline is a key aspect of this book’s potential success, a traditional publishing route is not even an option to consider for Mr. Rhody’s project.
Last week we briefly touched on the fact that you will always be considered “the author” of your book–regardless of the publishing route you choose. However, when you choose a traditional publishing path the “final” representation of your book may be significantly different than what you expect. Editors and other publisher representatives will “improve” your book in order to maximize its success. Obviously this isn’t always a bad thing, but Cheryl states it should be an important consideration in your publishing decision.
“The other part of control that is even more important to many people is content control. Authors need to ask themselves how much they are willing to change in their book, whether it be the cover, a few paragraphs or entire sections. Publishers usually are not going to spend the time to do a complete overhaul (they have way too many complete projects to pick from) but sometimes edits can be significant, therefore it’s important to be aware of the possibilities and to be prepared to accept them or to negotiate.”
Pricing, promotion, marketing and new media:
I add this last section because it has recently reared it’s ugly head–specifically with one author I’m working with. His book was picked up by a traditional publisher, which made life a lot easier for him at first. Furthermore, he’s got a wonderful book layout and cover, he’s received excellent reviews, and he’s sold close to five hundred books since release in December.
However, he has run into several situations where he’d like some things done to improve sales, but his hands are tied and there’s little I can do to help him due to his agreement with his publisher. For one, he considers his book, a trade fiction novel, to be priced too high–$17.99. Secondly, the publisher’s book promotion and marketing efforts are essentially non-existent at this point, but his contract won’t allow him to independently update his Amazon listing or contact the major booksellers for book signing purposes. Lastly, it would be to his benefit to have his book available in the Kindle ebook format, but the publisher is dragging their feet on this.
I mention this to emphasize that even an encouraging start with a traditional publisher may not end up with the result you’re hoping for. Therefore, take time to plan out your publishing objectives and consider which aspects of control are important to you–before you decide on your publishing choice. Traditional publishing and self-publishing paths each have their advantages and disadvantages, but it all depends on your goals and expectations.
Thanks again to Cheryl Pickett for her help in this post, and till next time–Keep Publishing!