It’s a tough market these days in an even tougher economy. Plus, there are options now available to writers, and opinions abound about which publishing path we as children’s writers should pursue on our personal publishing journey. Which direction will you take?
To help you better understand which path to explore at this point of your career, answer the 20 questions below. Circle your answers and then evaluate the results below. (Note: Some questions may have 2 or more answers—circle all that apply.)
1. Do you mostly want your book for your family and friends?
A. Not really B. Yes C. Not really
2. Do you mostly want your book for people you can reach in your local sphere of influence?
A. Not really B. Yes C. Yes.
3. Do you see your book reaching a national audience?
A. Yes B. Not really c. Yes
4. Would you rather get paid to have your book published than have to pay out of your own pocket?
A. Yes B. Doesn’t really matter C. Doesn’t really matter
5. Would you be willing to invest at least $500 to publish your book?
A. No B. Yes C. Yes
6. Would you be willing to invest $20,000 to $40,000 to publish your book?
A. No B. No C. Yes
7. Do you want to establish a career as a writer?
A. Yes B. Yes C. No
8. Are you a team player? Will you be okay with team input in your book over which you might not have any decision, if you feel you can trust the publisher to do what’s best for the book?
A. Yes B. No C. No
9. Do you want total and complete control over your book, even the small minor edits?
A. It’s not really necessary B. Yes C. Yes
10. Do you want your book published within the year?
A. It doesn’t matter B. Yes C. It doesn’t really matter
11. Are you willing to take 1 year to see your book published?
A. Yes B. No C. Yes
12. Are you willing to wait 2-3 years to see your book published?
A. Yes B. No C. No
13. Do you want your book to be sold in online bookstores such as Amazon.com?
A. Yes. B. Yes C. It doesn’t matter
14. Do you want your book to be sold in regular bookstores where you can walk in and buy your book off the shelf?
A. Yes. B. It doesn’t matter C. It doesn’t matter
15. Do you want someone else to do most of the marketing for your book?
A. Yes B. No C. No
16. Are you a public speaker who plans on doing most of the marketing for your book?
A. No B. Yes C. Yes
17. Would you be content to earn 25 cents to 50 cents per book if you knew your book would sell at least 5,000 copies?
A. Yes B. No C. No
18. Would you be content to earn $7 or $8 per book, but only sell about 100 copies total?
A. No B. Yes C. No
19. Do you have a lot of finished book manuscripts that have not yet been published?
A. No B. Yes C. No
20. Do you really, really wish you could get your book published?
A. It doesn’t really matter that much B. Yes C. Not really
Evaluation of your answers:
If you answered Mostly A, you probably want to pursue getting your book published with a Traditional Publisher. Traditional Publishers are the publishers listed in most market guides. They’re the publishers whose books you find in most walk-in bookstores such as Barnes and Noble and your local Christian bookstore. Traditional Publishers usually have names you’re already familiar with such as Scholastic, HarperCollins, and Tyndale. But you have to know how to approach these publishers and what they expect you to tell them about your manuscript. Write2Ignite has an exciting MasterClass coming up this April where you’ll learn just what to say! CLICK HERE to learn more and to register for this event.
If you answered Mostly B, you probably want to pursue getting your book published with a Print-on-Demand Publisher. Print-on-Demand Publishers are a fairly new option for writers. For a low or modest fee ranging from free to under a thousand dollars or more depending on the publishing options you choose, you can pay a Print-on-Demand Publisher to publish your book and publish it now. The main feature of this type of publisher is that no books are actually printed up front. They store your book in their computer and then print out copies as people order them. This is how this type of publisher can keep the author’s cost down.
If you answered Mostly C, you might want to consider self-publishing your book with a Vanity Publisher or Subsidy Publisher. These kinds of publishers will publish your book for an up-front fee that can range from $20,000 to $40,000. They print your book and send you hundreds of copies to store in your garage and try to sell yourself.
Here’s more information about the answers you chose:
1. If you mostly want your book for your family and friends, you can publish your manuscript quite soon and within your budget by choosing a Print-on-Demand Publisher. Because a Print-on-Demand Publisher (and many Subsidy Publishers as well) usually take your manuscript as it is, friends and family won’t mind if it’s got typos, poor grammar, or other weaknesses that a Traditional Publisher would edit before it’s in print.
2. If you already have a group of friends or speak frequently, explore the various options a Print-on-Demand Publisher or Subsidy Publisher offers because you can sell this book yourself to the audience you already have. You know how many faithful followers you have and you can predict the number of sales you can make yourself, which will help you choose between the fees these two different publishers charge to publish your book.
3. If you want to reach a national audience, a Traditional Publisher will market your book for you, along with your help. Many Traditional Publishers have a marketing team and prepare a marketing plan to help get your book in as many bookstores as possible. If you are a speaker and already have a national audience, you might want to self-publish your book with a Subsidy Publisher so that you can market your books completely by yourself.
4. If you’re rather get paid to publish your book, then you want to submit your manuscript to a Traditional Publisher. Publishers such as Tyndale, Scholastic, and Zondervan pay their authors, either a one-time work-for-hire fee or advances and royalties. You would not pay anything to have your book published.
5. Some Print-on-Demand Publishers offer publishing packages for under $1000.
6. Vanity Publisher or Subsidy Publishers can cost up to $50,000 or more to get your book published.
7. If you want to establish a career as a writer, learn how to work within the world of a Traditional Publisher. Traditional Publishers like to work with career authors and you can earn an income by writing books for Traditional Publishers. If you want to publish a book with a Print-on-Demand Publisher first, you can show this as an example of your writing to a Traditional Publisher, who might offer you a contract for your book, as long as you are able to break your contract with the Print-on-Demand Publisher. (Make sure this clause is included in the original contract if that is your goal.)
8. If your manuscript gets accepted by a Traditional Publisher, they have editors who will tweak and polish your manuscript and revise it to be the best they think it can be. Sometimes the authors have a say on these changes and sometimes they don’t. As a team player, however, you learn to value the input these editors provide.
9. Print-on-Demand Publishers and Subsidy Publishers offer editorial services if you pay extra. However, you have complete control over how your book appears in print, warts and all. (CLICK HERE to learn more about hiring a book coach to make your book shine.)
10-12. Because Print-on-Demand Publishers store your book in their computers and don’t actually print any until orders come in for it, they can publish a book very quickly. Subsidy Publishers take longer and a Traditional Publisher can take two years or longer, depending on the other books they have in the queue. Also, if you opt to submit your manuscript to Traditional Publishers, it may take several years or longer before a publisher accepts your manuscript and offers you a contract to publish your book. If these publishers require an agent, it may take even longer to land an agent to submit your manuscript to the publisher.
13-14. Every publisher sells books on the Internet, but walk-in bookstores usually only work with Traditional Publishers. They don’t normally stock books by Print-on-Demand or Subsidy Publishers on their shelves and sometimes won’t even host an author booksigning unless your book is published with a Traditional Publisher.
15. Usually, Traditional Publishes will market your book the most. You can pay extra for marketing services with a Print-on-Demand or Subsidy Publisher but because walk-in bookstores won’t carry those books, the marketing is limited.
16. If you publish your own book with a Print-on-Demand or Subsidy Publisher, you can have complete control over marketing your book at your own events, especially if you have a marketing and distribution plan already in place. Some Traditional Publishers have restrictions such as for how much you can sell your book at author events above or below cover price. And speaking of money, there are exciting ways today to afford the big price tag of a subsidy publisher such as crowd funding and more! We live in an exciting day for the publishing world.
17. A normal print-run (the number of books published) by a Traditional Publisher is to print 5,000 copies of your book. They try to sell all these copies over the life of your book. However, due to their marketing plans, they can sell your book at deep discounts to discount stores or venues, resulting in a payment of pennies in royalties to the author for each book that is sold. However, they sometimes land deals where they can sell large quantities such as 60,000 copies of your book at these deep discounts, so the exposure can be worth more than the money you earn.
18. If you publish your own book with a Print-on-Demand or Subsidy Publisher, you can usually purchase your books at an author’s discount of 35-50% below cover cost, and then sell it at speaking events or to family and friends at cover price which can earn you a nice profit per book.
19-20. If you are aching to see one of your many manuscripts published, explore the world of Print-on-Demand Publishers. It can be very rewarding to actually see your work in print.
So there you have it…three main roads to choose along your publishing journey. You can choose one…or all of them! Which one are you considering? Which one(s) have you already used?
-Nancy I. Sanders is the award-winning and bestselling author of over 100 books including Scribes: Devotions for Christian Writers (Pocket Edition). Visit her website at www.nancyisanders.com.
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Atlas with glasses image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay.
Compass image by Dorothe from Pixabay.
3 thoughts on “The Publishing Journey…Which Direction Will You Choose by Nancy I. Sanders”
I don’t think I would consider subsidy publishing. To me the cost isn’t worth it unless I knew I could draw a huge audience. I have been published traditionally and through print on demand. The benefit to me with print on demand is that I can get my work out there faster. However, the marketing part isn’t always easy. With traditional, you still need to do some promotional things, but the publisher benefits from your book sales, too, so the responsibility isn’t only on the author.
What a wonderful, comprehensive post!
This was a great help in understanding the pros and cons of these 3 types of publishing. Thanks, Nancy.