Last week, I was part of a “How to be an author” conference taught by Community Business Partnership, a local small business development center. One of the sessions I taught was on the differences of being traditionally published, working with a small press and self-publishing.
I’ve done two of the three: working with a small press and being self-published, and I thought it might be helpful to write about the experiences. If you want more information on the up and downsides of being traditionally published, I suggest you check out the blog of Kristine Kathryn Rusch. She’s gone all three routes, and she has lots of great information.
Today I’ll start with what it was like to work with a publisher, and next week I’ll talk about my experiences as a self-published author.
No question. It’s nice not having to do it all yourself. What I liked the best at the time (this was six years ago) was having someone else handle the layout and cover design. If I had self-published The Enthusiastic Networker, I would have had to pay someone to design the interior layout and the cover. While I have subsequently learned cover design, there’s still advantages to having someone else do the work. Interior layout for a non-fiction book is more complicated than for fiction, and I’d recommend seriously considering finding a small press for non-fiction books. You will likely get a better looking book, and you’ll certainly pay less up front for it.
Having a professional editor was also an advantage. He did a good job, and he sharpened the book. I had some excellent beta readers, but he gave the book an editorial polish it didn’t have before. He came up with the title, which had been eluding me, and he suggested I add an “enthusiasm check-in” at the end of many chapters. I think that pulled together the book in a way I would not have thought of.
Downsides? Not having control of the timing of the process. Everything took longer than I’d expected. The book came out about six months later than I’d thought, and that affected my ability to do pre-publishing publicity, and it had an impact on growing my business back in 2011. It was a frustration, but a time-limited one.
Something to think about when you think about publishing your own book. E-books are always “in print.” I recently received a book recommendation, and when I went to look at the book, it was out of print, and there was no e-version. I was fortunate to retain my e-book rights, and The Enthusiastic Networker is available in electronic format. Few publishers are allowing authors to retain e-book rights, but try to get them if you can. As long as you control the e-rights, you can keep your book available forever.
On balance, as a first time published author, there were many advantages to working with a small press. Now that I know more, I’m happiest as a self-published author of my fiction books. Tune in next week when I talk more about that particular experience.