Should I self-publish or prospect a publishing house? That has been the million dollar question for every new writer. Before you can answer the question, you have to understand that there are many companies that fall under “publishing” and offer very different services. I’m not including magazines, newspapers and other media – I’m talking strictly books.
Publishing houses are what the general public are familiar with. They publish the seasoned authors and, whether it’s a novel, the Book of the Month or a Best Seller, their names are seen throughout the local bookstore. Publishing houses generally specialise in one or two genres only and accept only a limited number of submissions a year. As a result, many are turned down. Submitting to a publishing house is a long tedious process that is often discouraging. Details of the requirements for submission are on each individual company’s website. Here are some pros and cons for soliciting a publishing house. PROS: Once your manuscript has been accepted, all publishing costs are covered; there is a wide distribution for your book. CONS: It often takes a long time to find a publisher who will accept your work; once accepted, the publisher may still sit on the work for some time; you lose full control of your work; the percentage of royalty is very slim – mind you, if you sell 10 times more books than doing it yourself, it balances out.
Other companies who fall under “publishers” offer any number of services that make up the publishing process (editing, formatting, cover design, printing, etc). Some also offer distribution. These companies usually cater to writers who are self-publishing.
You may have heard of Print-On-Demand or Vanity publishing. Print-On-Demand (PoD) may offer any of the publishing processes as previously noted. They usually also have in-house printing and can offer printing at a lower cost and in smaller quantities. PoD publishers have in the past been deemed as nothing more than vanity publishing by the old-schoolers. Although I don’t agree, I also find nothing wrong with a little vanity. Haven’t we all, at one point or another, thought of writing our own biography – whether just to have our name in writing or to share something with friends and family? The problem arises when a company takes advantage of the writer and makes a profit through false pretences. If you plan to sell your book to the public, make sure you choose a company who will advise you if your book is remotely saleable and not just take your money for services rendered.
Now we come to self-publishing. A writer may choose to self-publish for many reasons:
He has not been successful with the publishing houses,
He is an entrepreneur or public speaker and will distribute the books himself or use them as a promotional tool.
He is only doing a limited number of copies for friends and family,
He wants complete control of his work.