The publishing industry traveled a long road since the fellow in the picture above cranked out his masterpieces. In the 18th century, the Gutenberg press and Martin Luther’s prolific theological output moved the printing industry forward. Perhaps this is the most graphic example of successful self-publishing.
For years, traditional publishing has been, well, traditional. The publishing house’s editors work individually with writers to prepare their books for publication. The “house” handles the cover design, printing, and supposedly, marketing. Writers may or may not receive advances on their royalties, but in the end, the publishing house gets the lion’s share. Almost all large publishing houses work only with literary agents. Now most publishing houses will not consider a writer without a sizeable platform already in place for marketing .
No wonder authors turned to self-publishing. The term has a bad rap because it is associated with what was once called “vanity press.” Some excellent books have sold this way. Now, well-known writers self-publish. A talented writer with the right skill set, like John Caligiuri (see my blog, Author Turned Publisher January 7) thrive in the self-publishing mode.
Alas, I for one, lack his expertise, as well as his ability to write several books in a series within a few years. I’m still working on my five-year-old novel, The Divine Meddler. Frankly, I want it both ways — input in my book’s creation and a quicker timeline to publication. I need expert editing help, not just proof-reading. And marketing looms before me like a dark forest.
Agents want clients who will generate income for them, as do large publishing houses. Not an author who will ever crank out a book a year, I enjoy writing articles and devotionals and have no plans to stop. I would only frustrate an agent.
Even using one of the well-known self-publishing companies that offer services to help an author self-publish, would not give me the extent of the professional expertise I am looking for in all areas from editing to marketing.
Frankly, I want the best of both worlds, a third option, if you will.
A hybrid, or” Boutique” publishing company blends the features of traditional publishing with the control authors have with self-publishing. While authors pay for services they would need if they self-publish, they work one-on-one with a team of experts, all dedicated to the success of their clients’ books. Because the small publishers do better when their clients do well, they invest heavily in the potential success of a fiction or non-fiction book, from creation to marketing. And the author gets a larger share of royalties than he or she would with traditional publishing.
Authors have more choices than ever before. Personal preferences, skill sets, finances, comfort level, etc. now play in determining one’s best publishing route.
Thankfully, the writing profession finally has acknowledged that all modes of publication are valid. I‘ve read poorly written traditionally published books and page turning self-published books. So keep writing my fellow scribes and put your books out there!