Know your publishing – A writer’s guide into the world of book publishing

I remember when I had completed writing my book. Two hundred pages of awesomeness, I had told myself. Finding a publisher won’t take long for a book like this, I am sure. How I hate to admit how wrong I was.

Writing a book is only the first step to the many, many more that follow, the second of which is finding the right publisher. I looked up a bunch of publishing houses online and promptly sent them an email, attaching carefully every single file they had asked for in their submission guidelines. Within a week, I received emails from at least half a dozen publishers, who were interested in taking my book in and turning it around into a shiny, little bundle of joy I could be proud of. I was overwhelmed. Following their interest in the book, I received a second email, that contained the “letter of intent”. Turns out, this wasn’t a part of my plans to get published at all. The book had been accepted under a scheme called “Partnership publishing”, which left me confused.

For someone as naive as me to the aspects of publishing a book, my idea of publishing was limited to what I knew as “traditional publishing”, that later disappointed me to no end.

For all of you out there who have just completed their book and are now actively looking for publishers, here are a few important things you should know before you decide to finally make the jump. The thing is, publishing is not a simple equation anymore. “Publishing” doesn’t imply “traditional publishing” always, as many of you may misinterpret it as. In today’s world, the term “publishing” includes as many as six different ways that you can opt for to publish your book. Here they are:

  1. Traditional publishing: The age old concept of publishing, where a publisher pays for the editing, printing and production, takes care of the marketing and distribution and hands you a cheque at the end of the day, i.e., you receive royalties for all the hard work you have put in.
  2. Partnership publishing: This is a rather hybrid concept, that allows authors to be treated as partners, and the publisher and writer share the printing/production/marketing/distribution costs. The author does receive more royalty than they would have received via traditional publishing, however, only if you have the means to invest in your book financially.
  3. Self-publishing: This is one option to go for if you can completely fund your project. However, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have tried out every single publisher you can reach, and the book hasn’t been so fortunate to make its way through traditional publishing. Self-publishing requires you to fully pay for every aspect of publishing, while the publisher acts as a service provider and is responsible for the editing, printing, issuing of ISBN number etc. Also, you are responsible for marketing, distributing and selling the book. You retain all the rights and revenues generated from the project, since you were the sole investor. The book is usually available on POD (Print on Demand).
  4. Vanity publishing: It is rather difficult to differentiate between self-publishing and vanity publishing except the aspect of marketing, distribution and sales that are taken care of by the publisher instead of you, the author. You would still need to completely fund the production of the book, but in this case, the publisher takes care of everything from editing the manuscript to getting the book to the reader. You receive royalties based on the arrangement between you and the publisher. The book is usually marketed at a higher rate or is available on POD.
  5. DIY (Do It Yourself) publishing (via distributor): Although this kind of publishing can be opted for in both print and digital format of the book, authors choose to invest in ebooks to avoid risking investment in print. You can rely on an online service provider/distributor to reach out to online retailers and sell the ebook for you.
  6. DIY publishing (direct): Since we are talking of the digital format only, this is no different than option 5 above, apart from the fact that you contact the online retailers yourself and get down in the battlefield to boost the sales.

So the next time you receive a “letter of intent” from a publishing house, go through each clause very carefully instead of signing the contract straightaway. Publishing your book maybe the ultimate goal but choosing the right publisher gives a direction to your dream, the importance of which, cannot be overlooked.

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