Publishing 101

The publishing industry has been changing at a frantic pace these days with the evolution of ebooks, the popularity of self-publishing, the rise in online sales, and the drop in brick and mortar bookstore sales.

There’s a lot of information to wade through and it keeps changing.

Here are a few definitions to help you muddle through:

Traditional Publishing – There are two kinds. The really big New York houses, know as the Big Six, and the small to mid-sized houses. Both operate in a similar manner. Ink and paper books though the publisher generally acquires the digital rights as well. Agents are generally required for the Big Six since most do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Digital Only Publishing – Several ebook-only publishers have entered the market. Quite a few of these publishers deal in shorter works such as short stories and novellas. To keep things confusing, a few publishers will also sell a some of their best sellers through a PoD (Print on Demand) service.

PoD Services – This has become popular of late. New copies of a book are only printed after an order has been received. This used to be a sign of a vanity publisher but since the advent of digital publishing many small presses have turned to it instead of expensive letterpress and offset methods.

Self-Publishing – Here the author does all the work. All the writing, the editing, the proofreading, and the marketing. The author gets to keep all the profit but keep in mind the time commitment he or she has made. The marketing alone can easily become a full time job.

Vanity Publishing –  Both legitimate publishers and scam artists can be found here, making this category is hazy at best. Both cost the author money and violate the “money always flows to the author” rule. This is a category that each author should research before jumping in head first.

  • The scammers lure in fledgling authors by offering the world for only $5, $50, or $500 more. The author ends up stuck in a lousy contract, and the book fails to sell due to poor marketing and a lack of distribution routes. (A book needs to be available through a distributor to make it into a bookstore)
  • The legitimate vanity presses are available to publish niche books (family history, personal stories, or very small market), photo books (from weddings, birthdays, etc..), and books from authors who want to self-publish but would like additional assistance (limited marketing, digital market place, etc..).

Two excellent blog posts on getting published and the publishing industry in general.

PUBLISHING TIPS by Buddy Young, Nov. 26, 2010

GETTING PUBLISHED TODAY by Pat Brown, Nov. 18, 2010