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Self-publishing vs Traditional Publishing, and the Options in Between

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If you've written a book and are unsure whether to self-publish it or seek a publisher, this presentation is for you! I go over the main benefits and drawbacks of self-publishing and traditional publishing. I also explain how to make the most of each route, and go over a few alternative and hybrid options.
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Self-publishing vs Traditional Publishing, and the Options in Between

  1. 1. I’m Ricardo Fayet, Founder at reedsy.com @ricardofayet
  2. 2. Reedsy: An international community of best-in-class independent publishing professionals.
  3. 3. Some things authors say to me… “Ultimately my dream is to find a publisher for my book but I’ll start self-publishing it to get some exposure.” “Self-publishing is 10% writing and 90% marketing. I just want to write, so I’ll try to find a publisher.” “I queried 20 agents and only got standard-form rejections. So I’ll just self-publish.” “I want to find a publisher just for my print rights, so I get into bookstores – and I keep my ebook rights.”
  4. 4. There are countless publishing options out there…
  5. 5. Source: JaneFriedman.com
  6. 6. How to choose the right publishing path? Changing paths and becoming “hybrid” What a traditional publisher will do for your book Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing How to make self-publishing work for you Here’s what we’ll cover:
  7. 7. Self-pub vs Trad. Pub. – Pros & Cons Gatekeepers Upfront cost/advance Artistic control Ebook royalties Print royalties Rights management SELF-PUBLISHING 100% chance of publishing - $2,000-$4,000 Retain full control over your work, publishing and marketing 60%-70% 20-50% Retain all rights TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING 1% chance of getting a deal + $2,000-$10,000 All control is handed over to your publisher 20%-25% net <10% Surrender all rights* *Independent publishers and digital imprints may exclude audio, foreign and movie/TV
  8. 8. Author Royalties in Traditional Publishing Hardback Trade Paperback (Chain Bookstores) Mass Market (Supermarkets, Airports) Ebooks Audiobooks 10% of Retail Sales 7.5% of Retail Sales 8% of Retail Sales 17.5% of Retail Sales (25% Net) 25% of Retail Sales Format Average Royalties
  9. 9. Author Royalties in Self-Publishing Print Ebooks Audiobooks 20%-50% of Retail Sales 60-70% of Retail Sales 40% of Retail Sales Format Average Royalties
  10. 10. Right & wrong reasons for self-publishing Right reasons Wrong reasons “I’m confident my book will sell well and I want to keep most of the returns.” “I’m entrepreneurial-minded.” “I want to keep full editorial control over my story.” “My genre/story is too niche for a traditional publisher.” “I’ve been unsuccessful in finding an agent/publisher so I’ll just put my story out there.” “I’ve read E.L. James has made a ton of money.” “It seems easier and quicker than going through all the hassle of finding an agent.”
  11. 11. Right & wrong reasons for traditional publishing Right reasonsWrong reasons “I want brick-and-mortar bookshops to store my books.” “I don’t feel qualified to pick and manage an editorial and design team.” “It’s always been my dream to be a ‘published author’.” “I want to be considered for literary prizes and reviews.” “I want my book to be on billboards and bookshop windows.” “Self-publishing is too costly.” “I don’t want to ‘market’ my books, I just want to write.” “I don’t think I’ll be considered a ‘real author’ if I self-publish.”
  12. 12. 1,000,000+ books were be published in 2016 in the US. Self-published ebooks represent over 40% of Amazon ebook sales. SELF- PUBLISHING 700,000 TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING 300,000 Source: Author Earnings
  13. 13. The “hybrid” options: are they worth it? The “hybrid publishers” The “agent-assisted publishing” imprints The digital publishers The “assisted self-publishing” companies The “crowdfunding publishers”
  14. 14. The “hybrid” options: are they worth it? The “hybrid publishers” The “agent-assisted publishing” imprints The digital publishers The “assisted self-publishing” companies ● Idea: “share costs, share profits” ● Questionable (if not dodgy) ● Traditional publishing model ● Only ebooks (25% royalties) ● Great for commercial fiction ● Self-publishing model ● Handholding ● ‘Mark-up’ on services + distribution cut ● Similar to digital publishers ● Used mainly for the backlist ● Conflict of interest? The “crowdfunding publishers” ● Curated selection ● Crowdfunding to fund the publication of the books ● Traditional publishing model if funded ● Higher royalties (50%)
  15. 15. How to avoid the scams ● How do you make money? ● How much do I have to pay upfront or for services? (Compare that to market prices). ● What rights do you acquire and for how long? ● What are my royalties on the rights you acquire? ● How will you distribute and sell my books? (Check if they have a sales team). 1- Ask the right questions: 2- Run a “background check” ● Google “company name” + “scam” or “complaint” or “review”. ● Ask on social networks (Fb groups, Twitter, Kboards). ● Ask specialized organizations like ALLi or The Authors Guild. ● Consult David Gaughran’s blog and Writer Beware.
  16. 16. How to choose the right publishing path? Changing paths and becoming “hybrid” What a traditional publisher will do for your book Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing How to make self-publishing work for you Here’s what we’ll cover:
  17. 17. What does the process look like? Embarking on your publishing journey
  18. 18. Your indie publishing journey
  19. 19. What kind of editing do you need? Full definitions can be found here
  20. 20. How much should I budget for editing? Price per word
  21. 21. How much should I budget for editing? Full infographic analysis here
  22. 22. $600
  23. 23. What to expect from a pro cover designer? The usual process: 1. You provide a brief and inspiration 2. The designer produces 3-4 “concepts” 3. You choose one 4. You get 2-3 rounds of iterations You should be clear on: - The number of concepts - The number of iterations - Photo vs. illustration You can read more about the cover design process here.
  24. 24. First round of concepts 86%of Reedsy designers provide three to four initial design concepts.
  25. 25. Second round of concepts 69%of Reedsy designers provide two to three rounds of iterations after a first concept is picked.
  26. 26. Interior/Layout Design vs Formatting For simple fiction/non-fiction Most formatters will charge you <$100 for ebook, and slightly more for print. You can also use online tools. For illustrated fiction/non-fiction Designing the layout of a complex cookbook, for example, can cost up to $5,000.
  27. 27. OCTOBER 2016 @REEDSYHQ The Reedsy Book Editor changes how we create books Easily format your book Create chapters and parts and apply the type of paragraph or character style you want. Download EPUB and PDF files Compatible with Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Kobo, etc. and print-on demand services (Createspace, Lulu, Ingram)
  28. 28. Game-changing. One program to format distribution-ready EPUB and PDF files Compatible with Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Kobo, etc. and print-on demand services (Createspace, Lulu, Ingram)
  29. 29. Two other online tools you can take a look at Vellum Mac-only, pricey, but well-designed and easily customizable for EPUB and print. Draft2Digital Templates Free, automated conversion from Word to EPUB and print. Wide selection of templates.
  30. 30. Clear branding Simple CTA Lead magnet Links to all the retailers Mailchimp/Mailerlite Segmented lists Automated sequences Link to it from your website & books Right categories Right keywords Strong blurb Author page Reviews Define your audience and channels* Pre-launch strategy Post-launch strategy *ARCs (Bookfunnel), crowdfunding, Facebook ads, promotions, giveaways, PR, blog tours, social, content/SEO
  31. 31. To learn more about book marketing: Reedsy Learning 28 free courses. 25,000 students enrolled. 5 minutes a day. https://blog.reedsy.com/learning
  32. 32. How to choose the right publishing path? Changing paths and becoming “hybrid” What a traditional publisher will do for your book Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing How to make self-publishing work for you Here’s what we’ll cover:
  33. 33. 5 Myths of traditional publishing It’s your book, you’re the boss. #1 You can quit your day job now. #2 Your publisher will launch a huge marketing campaign. #3 Your book will be published in the next year. #4 Write the next one, your publisher will publish it. #5 Note : This is from the Wise Ink blog.
  34. 34. The main advantages of a (good) publisher You’ll get an advance and won’t have to pay for anything. #1 You’ll work with a top editor who will root for your book. #2 You will get access to literary outlets, reviews and prizes. #3 You will have a marketing team working on your book. #4 Your book will be available –for some time– in bookstores. #5
  35. 35. Fiction: Do you need a literary agent? Accept unagented submissions Some Big Five digital imprints Most digital publishers Some independent publishers Crowdfunding publishers Big Five imprints Most independent publishers Only accept agented submissions More info on the role of literary agents in this blog post.
  36. 36. Fiction: Finding a literary agent Write your query letter Query 5 agents at a time Polish your letter based on their feedback Consider seeking a freelance editor’s opinion Research literary agents Resources: ● UK: Writers & Artists ● US: Writer’s Digest ● US: Publishers Marketplace ● US: Poets & Writers Feedback No feedback
  37. 37. Fiction: Submitting direct to publishers Write your query letter Query 5 publishers at a time Polish your submission based on their feedback Consider seeking a freelance editor’s opinion Research publishers Additional Resources: ● Google alerts: “unagented submissions” ● Authors Publish magazine Feedback No feedback
  38. 38. Non-fiction: Creating a book proposal What does a book proposal consist of? ● A title page: your hook or elevator pitch; ● A table of contents (for the proposal); ● An overview/synopsis of the book; ● A list of chapter headings; ● Details of the content to be created for each chapter; ● A list of 3-5 competing books that have had strong sales; ● A sample chapter; ● An author biography; ● A marketing and promotion plan; ● A list of experts (or celebrities) willing to provide blurbs or endorsements. Source : Barry Fox (Ghostwriter)
  39. 39. A note on memoirs and children’s books Children’s Books Know exactly which age group you’re writing for. Do not get your book illustrated before querying agents. Follow the same rules as for adult fiction. Memoirs Your story needs to be truly unique for agents/publishers to even consider it. Unless you’re an accomplished writer, you’ll need both a book proposal and a full manuscript. Follow the same rules as for non-fiction.
  40. 40. How to choose the right publishing path? Changing paths and becoming “hybrid” What a traditional publisher will do for your book Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing How to make self-publishing work for you Here’s what we’ll cover:
  41. 41. The different forms of “hybrid” You are published by a traditional publisher but self-publish on the side. You self-publish but a publisher has acquired the print, audio, foreign and/or movie rights for your book. You self-published a book but it has since been acquired and re-published by a traditional publisher. You self-publish but your print books are distributed by a traditional publisher. #1 #2 #3 #4 Common Rare Unlikely Very unlikely
  42. 42. From self-publishing to traditional publishing Path #1 Path #2 Write a new book ‘Sell’ the rights to a publisher Find an agent for that new book Self-publish a book Sell 500,000+ copies ‘Sell’ the rights to a publisher Find an agent for your book Self-publish a book
  43. 43. From traditional publishing to self-publishing ● Rights reversion clauses ● Potential exclusivity clauses This very much depends on your contract with the publisher. Pay special attention to: These two organisations are worth joining for their free legal counsel on contracts: ● Alliance of Independent Authors ● The Authors Guild Finally, you have to read Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Business Musings every week.
  44. 44. Hope you enjoyed the presentation! Learn more about Reedsy at https://reedsy.com Any questions? Drop us a line: service@reedsy.com

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