Friday, June 27, 2008

What kind of publisher do you need?

Here's a quick and easy checklist to help people decide whether it's commercial or vanity publishing that they need.

I have written a book, and... (please tick all that apply)

___ I want it stocked in bookstores nationwide (and overseas).
___ I want a good advance and/or royalties for it (write for love, but publish for profit).
___ I want a professional editor to look over the manuscript and a professional artist to design the cover.
___ I am prepared to wait as long as is necessary to achieve this.
___ I will write another book while I wait.
___ I will accept critical feedback and correct any problems in the manuscript.

If these apply, then commercial publishing is for you. Either a trade publisher or a reputable small press should be fine.

___ I don't want to go through the stress of rejection letters and research.
___ I only want my manuscript printed up in book form.
___ I want a few copies for my family and friends.
___ I plan to sell the book in a certain specific context - for instance, from the back of the hall after I have given a lecture or presentation.
___ I know the manuscript is unlikely to be accepted by a commercial publisher, perhaps because its appeal is very limited, such as a family history.

If you ticked these, then vanity publishing should work for you. Consider Lulu, which provides better books than a copy shop would. Covers can be autogenerated or put together by the author, and you can purchase as many or as few books as you need. If you don't buy any of the extra features, like an ISBN, you won't have to pay anything, and Lulu will take a percentage of each sale.

___ I don't want the stigma of paying to be published, but I am prepared to spend money on the copyright, promotion and bulk purchases of my book.
___ I want to think of myself as a Published Author.
___ I would rather be published badly than not published at all.
___ I want it published soon.
___ I don't plan on writing another or having a career in writing.
___ I believe that editing, advertising and sales should be the responsibility of the author, not the publisher.
___ I don't want anyone suggesting any changes to my work.
___ I want it published very soon.
___ I believe that reputable agents only accept clients whom they meet in person.
___ I believe that one dollar is a fair price for the rights of first publication of my manuscript.
___ I believe that commercial publishers only publish books by celebrities and bestselling authors.
___ I believe that having a book on Amazon qualifies as distribution.
___ I don't want a publication credit that will be recognized by the industry.
___ I want it published NOW.
___ I am not a writer.

If these apply to you, I know this great company in Frederick, Maryland, which should be a perfect fit...


Angela Ackerman said...

Haha! I knew the 'great company' would be our friend PA. Some writer friends of mine wrote a story about me one year when I went away on holiday--some crazy Disneyworld Spy/Bodice Ripper/End-of-the-world story that was so cheesy and cliched, you could smell the feta a planet away. Surprise, Suprise, guess who wanted to publish it when it was submitted to them?

Seriously tho, I think a list like this is really helpful, because it lays it all out. Self publishing can be fine, as long as you understand what it means right up front. But if you writer to reach the world and are serious about finding your books in the marketplace at large, it's important to be informed and learn all you can about traditional publishing. It isn't easy. There is no quick route, no instant success. It's hard and wrought with rejection and tests even the most committed of us.

Great post. Humor or not, I hope it helps some people really define their options and decide what is right for them.

Becky Mushko said...

Well said! I'll be mentioning this post to some writer buddies of mine.

Marian Perera said...

Thanks very much, angela and becky! Please feel free to let others know of the checklist.

I wasn't aware of how many options there were for writers before I joined the Absolute Write forums - large commercial publishers, small presses, ebook publishers, vanity presses, self-publishing and so on. Likewise, many of the happy newcomers on the PAMB seem unaware of all the options available to them when it comes to publishing and believe they only have three choices :

1. big-name publishers who only want celebrity authors
2. vanity presses which charge upfront
3. PA, which generously accepts the common people without charging money for it

There's no one right way for everyone, and each way has its advantages and disadvantages. But I like it if people know all the facts before deciding which ship to board... and if they're aware that the lucrative liner PublishAmerica makes its own icebergs.