Choosing Your Publisher

My friend asks me, “You’re publishing with who?”

I tell him.

“Who?” he asks again, with a squinted wrinkle protruding from his left eye socket.

What he isn’t hearing is that there are countless publishers – than just The Top 5 for publishing our manuscript into a book.

Publishers come in all sizes and shapes. It’s our responsibility to vet these publishers before choosing who can vet us. ———-

There are plenty more publishers than Simon & Schuster, which Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, and Mary Higgins Clark are published by.

Notice I didn’t say “published with” but “published by”. This is one of many differences among the varying types of publishers.

Luckily, there is an easier way to think about this. Publishers can be divided into categories, each with “pros” and “cons.” What these pros and cons are can vary from author to author. The key is to determine which is likely the best fit for you.

Breaking it down, these are the categories:

 

COMMERCIAL PUBLISHERS

 

Traditional

Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hatchette, and MacMillan.

This is like winning the lottery—but we hear of lottery winners nearly every day. To win the lottery, you have to first get a lottery ticket. To try your luck with these big name publishers, you have to first get an agent to represent you.

Like with other publishers, a vetting process is used by these top 5, yet based on platform and not just merit. These publishers buy exclusive rights to the author’s work with advanced royalty payments. Rights go beyond who owns the books; rights include all facets of decision making in the process to create the published work and then market it. Hence, an author is published “by” and not “with” these publishers.

Of interest, author’s royalty rates after publication are low, at an average of 9%.

Much like being patient in playing the lottery, so is the process with these publishers a lengthy one. Authors wait a year or more for their acceptance letter, then a year or more for their book publication.

Traditional Small Presses and Publishers

Hundreds (if not more) of these publishers exist, many with a broad range of genres, and some which specialize in genres.

But a few are Brandt Street Press, Ink Smith Publishing, and Melville House.

There are also subcategories to small traditional publishers, including:

Boutique Presses: Specializing in a narrow subject, commonly with expertise, and limited marketing demand.

Business-Collaborative Publishers: Here, two or more businesses work together to produce a published work. They hire a publisher, much the same as they hired their legal team or their marketing consultants. All parties work together to benefit the businesses.

Regional Publishers: Specializing in a narrow geographic interest, again often with expertise.

Textbook Presses: Focused on publications for educational institutions. Convergent Publishing is one.

University Presses: Sometimes this is the same as a small publisher, but handled by a university, making it different from a Textbook Publisher. Sometimes, these are scholarly reviewed, and sometimes marketed solely to educational institutions; sometimes not.

These small publishers work much the same as the above Top 5. Often times, but not always, an agent is a must. Again, the publisher owns the rights to the published works and the author receives royalties. Rather than years of waiting, though, an author can usually see their book published in about a year, on average.

 

HYBRID PUBLISHERS

(Also called “Indie Publishing”)

 

This is a class all on its own, and gaining momentum in only the last five years.

Built on a traditional model, from manuscript vetting to publication, makes it by definition traditional publishing. Publication rights revert to the author, which by definition classifies it as self-publishing. These two publishing criteria create an anomaly, thereby deeming it a Hybrid Publisher.

Hybrid publishers tend to cater to and favor the unknown or emerging writers. Publishers take a risk on these unknown writers, but alleviate this risk through the author’s investment—usually at a flat fee. Extras or ancillary items not required to publish the works may incur extra fees. The financial investment on the part of the author offsets the royalty rates, driving rates up from the average 9% to an average of 70%.

The time spent from querying the publisher up until publication date can vary greatly on several factors, but the turn-around time is normally quicker than with Commercial Publishers.

Essentially, it is a vested interest by both the publisher and the author. At times, an agent is involved to help the hybrid publisher and author meet. Whereas, some hybrid publishers don’t require an agent.

A few Hybrid Publishers to choose from are Boyle & Dalton, Hugo House Publishers, and She Writes Press.

 

SELF-PUBLISHING

(Also called “Indie Publishing”)

Vanity Publishers

No manuscript vetting is needed because the author is hiring the publisher rather than the publisher accepting the author.

Essentially, this is self-publishing with someone (the publisher) doing the work for the author. While a flat fee may be incurred, the expense is usually a pay per service, from editing to design to marketing, and everything else—each to-do-item comes with its own price to be added to the bill of sale.

Dog-Ear Publishing is one Vanity Publisher.

Self Publishing

In this case, you, the author is the publisher. You are in control and responsible for managing everything. There is no publisher to hire or to accept an offer from, other than yourself.

I hope this helps you build upon your knowledge. Alongside writing my manuscript, I’ve invested time, energy, and even at times money (classes, webinars) to become as informed as I possibly can. I’ve also gained friendships among writers, editors, and those in the publishing industry through this investment.

As an informed writer, I am confident in my choice of which type of publisher to enter into a relationship with. How about you? What could be your best fit out of the wealth of choices afforded us?

xxx

 

This post has been revised and was first published on 10/29/17 at Blogging my Writing Journey, found at NovElle.blogspot.com.

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