(Because seriously, folks, there’s a lot to say on this subject!)
Many of the aspiring authors I run into have done little research in the area of publishing. If you ask me, I’d say this is because they are more focused on writing a great story, which is exactly what they should be doing. However, along their journey, these aspiring authors come into contact with hundreds of other writers, both aspiring and published, and with those interactions, the subject of publication often becomes a somewhat heated subject.
Some writers out there still (even in today’s publishing world) strongly believe that a writer can only truly claim to be a published author if they are published through one of the traditional publishing houses.
Well, my friends, I’m here to tell you this is poppycock! The fact is, that mentality is akin to saying you’ve only had a conversation with someone if you can say you either spoke to them in person or by means of a telephone call, and even that phone call has to have been on a landline. Or, you really only went shopping for a new outfit if you physically stepped inside a brick and mortar storefront.
To either of those antiqued ways of thinking, I say, “Seriously?”
I also say, or more like preach, that the avenue of publishing that’s right for you should be a very personal decision and not one made lightly or without a good bit of research. After all, we each have our own reasons for wanting to write in the first place. Our own goals. So, after you’ve sat back and honestly thought about what your goals are when it comes to writing, I suggest you get comfortable and start researching those different avenues, so you can make an informed decision as to which route is best for you.
Now, I’m no expert when it comes to the ins and outs of the publishing world, and I certainly don’t claim to be. I’m only writing this series of articles on the subject with the hopes of giving you a little help when it comes to making such a major decision. A small head start, you could say, on your research in this area. I mean, you’ve put an unaccountable number of hours into writing that book, haven’t you? Let alone the hours spent studying and practicing the art of writing. Well, if you haven’t already begun studying up on everything else that goes with it, now’s the time.
As I see it: if you’ve decided you want to be a writer, there are basically three paths to publishing.
1) You can aspire to land a contract with one of the almighty traditional publishers (those known as The Big-5) or one of the smaller yet still very prestigious publishing houses; or
2) you can query and submit your proposals to the vast number of reputable indie publishers out there;
or 3) you can choose to take the self-publishing route.
Each of those choices has advantages and disadvantages, and each comes with its own set of challenges and rewards. Not one of those choices should be considered beneath the other nor should any be thought of as settling. Each should be seriously considered, mulled over, and thoroughly researched before you decide which is right for you.
Now, I want you to take note that I did not and will not mention the vanity presses in any of the articles, which are a part of this series, with the exception of the following:
First, vanity presses are precisely that. They are so-called publishing houses because by going through them, your vanity is appeased. You pay them instead of them paying you. You pay them to do for you what you could have either done yourself or sub-contracted others to do for you and very possibly for a substantially lower fee. In exchange, what you get is the ability to say you were published through So-And-So Publishing House, and you can then proudly display their publishing house logo on your book. And let’s not forget that by going through them, you’ve also likely given up some royalties or more for this minimal and if I must say inconsequential benefit.
So, if you are ever wondering if that publisher who just offered you a contract is a vanity press, the answer is right in front of you. Are they asking you for money for editing, art, a book cover, print copies, or anything at all? If so, there’s your answer.
What I’m saying here is if you’re thinking of even considering one of the vanity presses, be sure you understand what you’re getting for your money, and more importantly, what you are giving up.
Another thing to consider before going this route is that many authors today are creating their own publishing house with logo and all. And if they can do it, so can you. So if it’s solely your vanity that has you looking at one of the many vanity presses out there, you might want to reconsider.
As I mentioned at the top of this discussion, there’s so much to say on this subject that I’ve wisely decided to post it in four parts. In the days following the posting of this article (part one to be precise), be on the lookout for parts two through four, where I’ll discuss the three paths outlined above, individually.
In the meantime, my fellow writers, go forth and do just that!