Sunday 22 September 2013

The Debate Continues - self-publishing versus traditional

Yes, it goes on. As it is now very easy for writers to publish their one material why should they wait for a traditional publisher to accept their work and then take several months to get it out into the open?
Taking risks
The traditional publisher has to be confident enough about your work to risk time and money on various services you might want to buy in as a self-publisher:
·         Cover design
·         Editing (structural)
·         Editing (line)
·         Editing (copy)
·         Proof-reading
·         Book design
·         Marketing
The publisher will have to sell several hundred books to get their money back on those upfront / overhead costs. Whether the book sells twenty or twenty thousand copies those prices remain the same.  

Can’t you do all of this yourself?
Well, of course you can. Especially if you have the technical skills, you’re a talented artist who knows something about cover design and you have the time and expertise to do the marketing. Certainly if you’re an experienced writer, you may well be able to complete all of those stages of editing.  However, it is extremely difficult to edit your own work as you are too close to it and also understand it too well. It’s quite hard to spot what others might not understand.
Those professional writers who do self-publish – often ones who are also traditionally published and are maybe self-publishing because they are doing something a little different – almost always use the services of a professional editor.  
When self-publishing can be very useful
This can be a good idea in the following circumstances:
·         If you are already known, and if your publisher has taken a book out of print. You can bring it back to life if the rights have reverted to you.
·         If you are known and want to do something a little different.
·         If you are producing something that has a very niche market.
·         If you wish to publish something just for family and friends.
Making yourself visible
This can be very difficult, especially as there is a lot of self-published material around and much of it is very poor.  There are also some excellent books but how can the reader find them? All new writers, whichever way they are published, have to work at making themselves visible. It’s really a full-time job – and full-time pay is not guaranteed.
Publishers as gatekeepers
The name of a publishing house associated with your book is almost like a seal of approval. The publisher has faith in your script and will work with you to make it the very best it can be. It won’t need a lot of work – the publisher won’t take it on if it needs too much –but they will provide those services that it is harder for you to provide yourself. The publisher sifts the better texts out from the rest and finds the ones that, for that particular publisher, are worth working on.      

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