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Writing and Publishing

Balancing the Indie Publishing Versus Traditional Publishing Debate

Here are the pros and cons of indie publishing versus going with a traditional publisher:

Traditional Publishing Pros and Cons: In most cases, traditional publishing requires less of the author, should result in more book sales over a wider distribution, and carries the prestige of a publisher selecting your book for publication. The negatives include the effort to find a publisher, the length of time to publish the book, and earning much less per copy sold—if anything at all.

Indie Publishing Pros and Cons: If you’re self-disciplined, indie publishing allows you to get your book to market faster. You also maintain full control over the final product and make more on each sale. The downside is that you must view publishing as a business and cover all the costs of producing the book yourself. 

A commonly-cited reason to not indie publishing is the requirement to market and promote our books. While it’s true that if we indie publishes we must market our books if we hope to sell any, traditional publishers also expect us to help promote, market and sell our books. If you can’t or won’t do that, the publisher is apt to pass on publishing your book. In short, they want authors who can move product.

Conclusion: There is no right answer to the issue of indie publishing versus pursuing a traditional book deal. It depends on the goals and priorities of each author. Also, some authors do both, depending on the book. They’re hybrid authors, going with traditional publishers for some books and indie publishing others.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Three Perspectives on Hybrid Authors

A hybrid author is someone who uses both traditional publishing and indie publishing. Though the reasons for pursuing this dual approach are many, there are two base motivations: more sales or more income.

Generally, traditionally published books are better vetted, have higher quality, enjoy wider distribution, and produce more sales.

The benefits of indie-publishing tend to be faster publication, more author control, greater profit per sale, and much faster access to profits.

1. Author Perspective of being a Hybrid Author

For the author, indie publishing some books, while traditionally publishing others, offers the best of both worlds. Taking the hybrid approach results in dual revenue streams and potentially more books on the market with the greater readership. And at its base level, isn’t that what every author wants: more readers and the chance to earn a living?

2. Publisher Perspective for a Hybrid Author

Publishers can have many worries about authors who take the hybrid approach. From a macro standpoint, more indie publishing means less traditional publishing—and that’s bad for the industry.

From a practical assessment, authors who also indie publish divide their focus, time, and energy between two or more projects.

  • This suggests they spend less time writing, so the quality may not be as good.
  • They may have less time to promote their traditionally published books because they spend more time promoting their indie-published works.
  • They could damage their reputation if their indie-published books are not as good.
  • They could confuse their audience (be it called their community, platform, or tribe) if they publish in multiple genres, use different styles, or target different readers.

3. Enlightened Publisher Perspective for a Hybrid Author

While all these publisher concerns are valid, an alternate view is that if these risks can be minimized or controlled, the result can be a larger author platform, a better reputation, and the likelihood of selling more of the author’s traditionally published books.

To do this, traditional publishers can offer their authors career advice and strategic planning for all their books. They can encourage their authors to pursue greater quality in their indie-published works, even to the point of letting them tap into their network of freelance editors, designers, and marketers.

When done wisely, hybrid authors can benefit themselves as well as their traditional publishers. (Also consider hybrid publishing.)

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Why We Must Understand the Continuum of Book Publishing

Book publishing options are no longer a black and white decision but an array of grays

In past posts, I discussed the benefits of traditional publishing and the benefits of self-publishing, as well as the downsides of traditional publishing and the downsides of self-publishing. Now we’ll discuss book publishing options.

Book publishing, however, does not exist as two sides of a coin, with traditional publishing on one side and indie-publishing/self-publishing (once disparaged as vanity publishing) on the other.

Book Publishing Options

Instead, book publishing options exist on a continuum. At one end are the major publishers who carefully screen, edit, produce, and promote books, much as they have done for years. At the other end are the do-anything-for-a-buck outfits. They will print any book for anyone willing to pay their fees, regardless of its content, quality, or marketability.

In between them lies a vast array of options, from indie presses, to assisted publishing, to outsourcers, to any number of companies with intriguing labels, seeking to find a niche and fill a need.

A few of these companies care nothing about books and only about money. However, most possess a sincere desire to help writers become published authors, advancing the cause of book publishing in the process (as well as earning a profit). They just do it in different ways.

These permutations of publishers are too numerous and evolving to delineate with any accuracy. An author should carefully vet each publisher before making a selection.

The key to evaluating them is to realize that each has a business plan and must make money. Comprehending what their plan is (sometimes we need to dig a bit) and understanding how they make money (even nonprofits must generate income) will provide a basis for determining if their sweet spot matches a writer’s needs.

If they ask for money up front, be very careful. I won’t use the word scam, but I will say that unless you are personally willing and able to successfully sell your books, it’s unlikely you will ever earn enough to cover their fees.

Book publishing options exist on a continuum, as do the needs of the authors they serve. Finding the right match between publisher and author is essential for the success of both.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Researching Competitive Titles

A common part of many book proposals is a “competitive works” section. I recently researched competitive titles for one of my book proposals. What I saw enlightened me.

Traditionally Published Books

To research competitive titles, I first looked at books from traditional publishers. They gave me pause. I had to think a bit to determine how my book was different and how it would stand out. This challenged me, but it was good exercise.

Each book was impressive: an attractive cover, nice title, a great concept or theme where the content flowed nicely, and professional editing and formatting. However, I didn’t think about any of these qualities at first. I expected these characteristics. Since they met my expectations, I gave these traits no thought—until I looked at some indie-published books.

Indie-Published Print Books

Next, in my competitive titles research, I looked at some print books that were indie-published. At first glance, the covers were of similar quality and the titles were almost as good.

The content, however, was not the same. The concept of these books was lacking and their execution, disappointing. Also, the writing wasn’t nearly as good. One didn’t even appear to have been edited, with sloppy formatting and missing words—and that from reading less than one page. The fault in all this is not is a tool they used to publish the book. It is the author. If you put garbage into the tool, you get garbage out of it.

Indie-Published E-Books

Last, in my competitive titles research, I considered a pair of indie-published e-books. They offered no print options.

These suffered even more. Their covers weren’t as good, and their concept was questionable. As far as the writing, the interior layout was so bad that I couldn’t force myself to read it. I didn’t include them in my “competitive works” section because I didn’t view them as competition, merely a distraction.

Takeaway

From all this, I’m reminded, once again, that indie-publishing (self-publishing) is an attractive option and an affordable solution when traditional publishers take a pass on our books. While this could be for reasons outside of our control, it might also be that our content is ill-conceived or our book still needs work. Sometimes this is hard to determine, especially after we’ve poured ourselves into writing it.

Regardless, if we choose to indie-publish, we need to keep in mind that our finished product must look like a traditionally published book if we hope for folks to take it seriously.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

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Writing and Publishing

Six Flavors of Book Publishing

In a previous post, I talked about traditional publishing and vanity publishing (once the only two options), with hybrid publishing now filling the space between. Hybrid publishing is a combination of the two, with varying options for a book author.

Hybrid Publishing

A common term for this ever-evolving assortment of book publishing options is hybrid publishing. It’s also a descriptive name, with some book publishers opting for other labels.

Entrepreneurial Publishing

One reader mentioned entrepreneurial publishing. I like that. It reminds us that publishing a book is a business. The book author needs to take part in the process in order to be successful.

Indie Publishing

Indie publishing (short for independent publishing) or indie press can take on a wide array of meanings, from a traditional publisher that is small and therefore independent, to a niche publisher, to self-publishing.

Custom Publishing

Custom publishing is a broader term that in addition to books can alternately cover magazines, newsletters, brochures, or whatever else can be imagined.

However, regardless of the label, the main thing is to analyze what they do and don’t do, determine how money flows between publisher and book author (and in which direction), and realize this is a business, for both publisher and author. Then, after finding the best fit, carefully read the contract. Then hire an attorney who is familiar with publishing agreements.

Happy publishing!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of PublishingGet your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.