Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Like Tevye’s song, “Tradition,” in Fiddler on the Roof suggests, sometimes it makes sense for the author to hum a few bars on the merits of tradition. A traditional, royalty-paying publisher offers a neat package to the writer that enables him or her to concentrate on creating a great manuscript.
Hey, I get that traditional publishing can seem like a fortress that’s impossible to penetrate. Egads, many publishers won’t even accept a query from an unagented writer let alone offer to publish your work!
But publishers who make an investment of tens of thousands of dollars in your book bring a lot to the table. It’s sort of like staying at a five-star hotel as opposed to Motel 6. Self-publishing is no-frills; royalty-paying publishers have plenty of razzle-dazzle, at-your-service options to offer, including: an editor who holds your feet to the fire and makes you create your very best work; a marketing staff who have ideas to promote your work that would never have occurred to you; publicity people with connections in all the right places (you mean Oprah? yup); sales staff with working relationships with book buyers at all the major outlets and who are paid to make regular calls on those buyers.
Okay, okay, so I’m strutting the idealized version of a royalty-paying publisher. No, your book isn’t necessarily going to be pitched to Oprah. No, your book won’t necessarily get the Top of the Mark marketing budget. But my point is, royalty-paying publishers have the wherewithal to provide all this and more. These publishers warehouse copies of your book; keep track of its inventory; send it out and send you money based on those sales; offer it to foreign language publishers; release your book in a vareity of formats such as hardback, then trade paper, then mass market; produce a gift book or a workbook out of your material, etc.
These are the folks who have been creating books for a very long time. And, here’s the really good news: They want to pay you to let them produce your book.
To give a fully rounded picture, I have to say that neither method of publishing is without its flaws. But I hope that I’ve clarified in these posts that traditional publishing and self-publishing really are like cats and dogs–two very different critters, both inherently offering us reasons to like them and reasons to wonder why a person would ever put up with them.
What are your thoughts on the matter?