Wednesday, September 9, 2009

You MUST Know what Type of Publishing Company You’re Working With

I’m amazed when I talk with an author who is so excited that they have a publishing company that wants to publish their book and, when I ask which publisher, they name a company I know to be a self- or independent-publishing company. These authors act as if they’ve landed a contract with a traditional publisher, and I think they believe they have, but they haven’t. I have to wonder if they know the difference. In some cases I don’t think so.

(I’m not talking here about experienced, self-/independently-publishing authors who know exactly what they’re doing.)

Here’s the scoop:

Don’t assume that just because a publisher tells you they want to publish your book that you’re hooked up with a traditional publisher. You have to know what type of publisher you’re working with!

If a traditional publisher tells you they want to publish your book, that usually is a pretty good thing.

If a self-, independent-, or subsidy-publisher tells you they want to publish your book, that’s not the same thing!

Having a self-, independent-, or subsidy-publisher tell you they want to publish your book, or even asking one of these if they think you should publish your book (asking if it is of publishable quality, or if they think it will sell), is a little like having a car salesman tell you that you should buy a new car. Or asking a car salesman if you should buy a new car. Selling cars is this person’s business. It’s how he makes his money. Of course he’ll tell you that you need a new car!

A self-, independent-, or subsidy-publisher will most likely tell you they want to publish your book or that you should publish your book. It’s their business. It’s what they do. It’s how they make their money. Why would they tell you no?

One big, important difference to keep in mind between traditional publishers and self-publishing companies:

A traditional publisher only makes money if the book sells. They fork out money (usually a lot of it) to publish your book and they need to do more than break even, they need to make a profit to stay in business and publish the next book. This means they won’t take on a book they don’t think will sell. And it means they will help sell the book (at least a little) once it’s published.

In contrast, a self-publishing company makes its money from you. Once you’ve paid them to do the work of publishing your book, and you have your book in your hands, they could care less if it sells. They’ve already been paid. Selling books to earn back what you’ve invested and hopefully make a profit is entirely up to you.

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