Five Reasons a Writer Should Go With a Traditional Publisher

Five Reasons a Writer Should Go With a Traditional Publisher

The Benefits of Going with a Traditional Publisher

In “Why Self-publishing vs Traditional Publishing Doesn’t Matter” I pointed out that both options have the potential to satisfy the core needs of a writer seeking publication. Writers must carefully consider the pros and cons of each option before pursuing either one. Future posts will consider some of these issues.

To start the discussion, here are five reasons why a writer should go with a traditional publisher:

1. Wider Distribution

Traditional publishers have distribution avenues that are effectively not available to self-published books. Sure, there are work-around solutions, but they’re limited and require much time and effort. Traditional publishers handle the distribution, easy peasy.

2. An Advance

Traditional publishers provide an advance. While the advances are getting smaller, they still exist. Self-publishers never receive an advance. In fact, self-publishing costs money, so it’s like a negative advance.

3. More Prestige

An author of a traditionally published book earns greater respect and garners more esteem.

4. Higher Quality

Traditional publishers generally produce a higher quality product. There are more eyes looking at it to catch errors and make it the best they can.

5. They Do the Heavy Lifting

What about e-books, hard cover and paperback, press releases, cover designs, ISBN, bar codes, back cover material, and author photos? A traditional publisher handles all these items. There’s nothing for the author to master or worry about; traditional publishers make it happen.

Five reasons why a writer should go with a traditional publisher. Click To Tweet

Traditional Publisher versus Self-Publishing

Given all this, why would anyone want to self-publish? Next week, we’ll consider why.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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Is Blogging a Form of Self-Publishing?

blogging is self-publishing

I once read that blogging is a form of self-publishing. The author’s opinion gave me pause. It seemed a simplistic claim. I felt it in some way diminished the noble art of publishing.

Anyone can blog, and it seems most everyone does, but not most everyone self-publishes a book, even though the tools are there so that anyone can.

While some blogs are profound and worthy, other blogs are trivial and unworthy.

Oh, wait, some self-published books are profound and worthy, while others are trivial and unworthy. Perhaps there are some parallels after all.

Given that some blogs become books, either verbatim or as a springboard, perhaps blogging is prelude or preparation to self-pub.

Blogging is a form of self-publishing. Click To Tweet

What I do know is that blogging is good practice for publishing. Blogging can accomplish the following:

Blogging Teaches Us to Meet Deadlines

Having a regular blogging schedule gives us mini-deadlines to hit. Every week we must write, produce, and publish what we create. If we miss a deadline our readers know it. Even worse, we know it. Deadlines prep us to be ready to hit bigger deadlines later for our books.

Trains Us to Write When We Don’t Feel Like It

Writers write—even when we don’t want to. Sometimes we need to write when we’re sick or tired or lacking motivation or have nothing to say. That’s life, and blogging trains us to realize and accept that.

Conditions Us to Publish

We write a post, edit it, and then…vacillate. It’s scary to press “publish” and share our work with the world. What if they don’t like it? What if the piece isn’t ready? But after a couple dozen posts, it gets easier; after a couple hundred, it’s not a problem; and after a couple thousand, I don’t even think about it. That readies us to click publish on our books, too.

Prepares Us to Receive Feedback

Blogging puts our words out for the public to see. Some will like what we write and others won’t. Others will point out typos, and a few will find errors that don’t exist. This will happen with books but on a greater scale. Blogging prepares us for that.

Yes, blogging is self-publishing. So if you blog, that means you’re a published author.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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Should You Use an Outline to Write? A Writing Q & A

Question: I understand some people write using an outline, while others discover what comes next as they write. Which is better?

Writing Q and A: Use an Outline

Answer: The short answer is to use whatever works best for you.

When writing a short story, article, or blog post, I often start with a title, opening line, or concept. Then I start writing to see where it takes me. (Sometimes I have the last line in mind and write to get there.) Though this may result in extra content that I need to cut, it usually becomes part of another article or post. However, recently for blog posts, I’ve been writing to hit bullet points, which is a basic outline.

Conversely, when I start a book, I always have an outline. This gives me structure to easily move from one item to the next, without wasting time or words. After all, it’s not a big deal to cut 20 percent of a 300-word blog post (60 words), but it would be painful to cut 20 percent of a 50,000-word book (10,000 words).

However, just because I use an outline for books, that doesn’t imply I don’t discover things along the way. When I do, it’s an exciting bonus, which I’m happy to work into the text. Then I update my outline.

Why We Must Understand the Continuum of Book Publishing

Book publishing options are no longer a black and white decision but an array of grays

In past posts, I discussed the benefits of traditional publishing and the benefits of self-publishing, as well as the downsides of traditional publishing and the downsides of self-publishing. Now we’ll discuss book publishing options.

Book publishing, however, does not exist as two sides of a coin, with traditional publishing on one side and self-publishing (once disparaged as vanity publishing) on the other.

Book Publishing Options

Instead, book-publishing options exist on a continuum. At one end are the major presses who carefully screen, edit, produce, and promote books, much as they have done for years. At the other end are the do-anything-for-a-buck outfits. They will print any book, for anyone willing to pay their fees, regardless of its content, quality, or marketability.

In between them lies a vast array of options, from indie presses, to assisted publishing, to outsourcers, to any number of companies with intriguing labels, seeking to find a niche and fill a need.

A few of these presses care nothing of books and only about money. However, most possess a sincere desire to help writers become published authors, advancing the cause of book publishing in the process (as well as earning a profit). They just do it in different ways.

Carefully consider the pros and cons of each book publisher before committing. Click To Tweet

These permutations of publishers are too numerous and evolving to delineate with any accuracy. An author should carefully vet each publisher before making a selection.

The key in evaluating them is to realize that each has a business plan and must make money. Comprehending what their plan is (sometimes we needs to dig a bit). And understanding how they make money (even nonprofits must generate income) will provide a basis for determining if their sweet spot matches a writer’s needs.

Book publishing options exist on a continuum, as do the needs of the authors they serve. Finding the right match of publisher and author is essential for the success of both.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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3 Perspectives on Print Versus Digital Publishing

The form that a published book takes doesn’t matter as much as many people think

print versus digital publishing debate

Publishers, authors, and readers each approach the print versus digital debate from different perspectives. Among these three points of view exist an array of opinions. Consider:

Publisher Perspective

Publishers are in business to make money. Never forget that. They aren’t philanthropists, seeking to advance authors’ work or serve the common good (though both are laudable secondary goals). They can make money in print or with e-books. While the outcome is not guaranteed, the potential for profit is there. Some focus on the printed word and others, electronic output, while most do both. For them, print versus e-book becomes a strategic decision with a financial outcome.

Author Perspective

Authors often enjoy the tangible feeling of holding a book, their book, in their hands. For them, there’s an emotional attachment to the printed word. As such, they may view e-books as a second-rate, unacceptable alternative. However, the underlying desire of authors is to have their words read. So does it really matter if it’s on paper or through a device? Like publishers, authors also want to earn money for their work. Each medium offers the opportunity to do that.

Reader Perspective

Readers may be the most passionate in their opinions about print and electronic reading. I use both, and I enjoy both. So do many readers, though some insist on a book and others will only use a device.

Print books and ebooks are both viable options for publishers and authors. Click To Tweet

The Print Versus Digital Debate Will Continue

As long as the public consumes books both ways—which, I suspect will be for years to come—the print versus digital publishing debate will remain unresolved. And, I’m okay with that.

What’s your preference, print or electronic?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Don’t Debate Traditional Publishing vs. Self-Publishing

Book publishing pros and cons

There are 4 reasons why self-publishing versus traditional publishing doesn’t matter

Authors often wonder if they should bypass finding a traditional publisher and just self-publish their books. It’s a weighty question with a plethora of answers. Each option possesses a list of book publishing pros and cons, warranting careful consideration, but today I’ll share four reasons why it doesn’t really matter.

Readership

Either way others can read our work. Although some write for personal gratification, almost all writers have a deep desire for other people to read their work. Even those who won’t admit it, generally have an inner yearning to share their words. Both self-publishing and traditional publishing can accomplish this.

Marketing

Either way we must market our books. Except for A-list authors – those all but guaranteed to sell a million copies—all other authors need to promote their own work. True, traditional publishers will do some marketing, but their budget will be limited. Unless our book becomes a run-away sensation (unlikely), its success will hinge on our willingness to promote it—regardless of the publishing method.

Either form of book publishing allows the potential to make money. Click To Tweet

Earn Money

Either way we can make money. It’s possible to make money with either publishing model. Though the amount of money varies with the situation, type of book, and market size, as well as our personal preferences and personality, either form of publishing allows the potential to earn income.

Tangible Results

Either way we can have a printed copy of our book. There’s something significant about holding a printed copy of our book. It’s tangible proof our work is viable—and is something we can autograph. Both forms of book publishing can result in a printed version of our work (as well as an e-version and usually both).

In future posts, I’ll address the book publishing pros and cons of both options, but in the big picture, it doesn’t matter.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

How Can Publishers Become Developers?

Is it enough for authors to embrace a publishing mindset or must they go further?

publishers

I once read, “publishers are becoming developers.” This sounds profound, but what does it mean?

A publisher is someone who prepares and issues information or material.

A developer is someone who creates, who builds, who advances.

How can publishers become developers?

  • Turn a book or publication into a platform or business
  • Repackage past and current products (books, articles, posts, and so forth) into innovative offerings for a new audience
  • Build a social media presence to curate and share information
  • Create mobile apps of content for the on-the-move, I-want-it-now demographic
  • Establish new information dissemination channels
  • Reinvent being a writer into something with a greater, grander vision

These are all general ideas, of course. I leave the details for each author-turned-publisher to determine, pursue, and achieve.

Then, just as authors become publishers, we can take the next step to all become developers, too.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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9 Keys to Self-Publishing Success

It’s never been easier to publish a book, but that doesn’t mean we should

Self-published book

I once read a self-published book, a novella. I read it for several reasons: it was recommended (which turned out to be a bad reason), it would be a quick read, I’d never read a novella, and it was free (I got what I paid for).

On the plus side, the opening captured my attention, the story line was intriguing, and the ending was a delightful surprise. On the negative side, the book did not flow smoothly, was poorly edited (or not edited at all), contained many errors, and was poorly converted into e-book format. Overall, the great ending did not overcome all the negative elements.

Self-Published Book Success

For a self-published book to be successful, it needs what all great books need:

  1. A Promising Idea: If you don’t have a great story idea or theme, don’t start writing. This novella did, but its implementation fell short.
  2. A Compelling Opening (a Hook): The opening didn’t grab me, but it was sufficient to make me want to read more.
  3. Great Writing: I felt I was reading a rough draft. Elements of good writing were present, but they were too sparse to be effective.
  4. Professional Editing: The novella may have been self-edited (never a wise idea) or done so on the cheap, but the result wasn’t even close to professional. While publishing perfection is hard to achieve, the goal should be to get as close as possible.
  5. A Satisfying Ending: The ending of the novella was superb. It was the most notable element of the work. But one good line does not make a good book.
  6. A Memorable Title: Some titles are hard to forget and others are hard to remember. I can’t recall this novella’s title.
  7. An Attention-Grabbing Cover: The cover didn’t hurt the book, but it didn’t help either. If I were judging this book by its cover, I would have passed.
  8. A Pleasing Layout: In print, a self-published book shouldn’t look self-published. (We can’t always define it, but we know it when we see it). In electronic form, the formatting should flow smoothly with no glitches, misplaced text, bad alignment, or floating words or titles. In any good book, the interior design should be innocuous. When people notice the layout it becomes a distraction.
  9. Effective Marketing: The above items all relate to the quality of the product. (There are more elements to consider, but these are the main ones.) A quality product requires effective marketing. A stellar book with no sales will not be a success, nor will great marketing of lousy writing work out.Before you self-publish your book, make sure you include these 9 requirements. Click To Tweet

If you’re considering self-publishing, be it in print or e-book, make sure you cover all nine of these items before proceeding. Your book’s success will depend on it.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

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Grammar Checking Programs: A Writing Q & A

Question: I’m looking for a grammar-checking program. Is there one you can recommend?

Writing Q and A: Grammar Checking Programs

Answer: I seek the same thing!

I once signed up for a trial of grammarly.com. It’s a most impressive grammar checker.

The problem was that it was too sophisticated for me. It flagged many things to check, but I lacked the needed background to comprehend the issues. Many of their suggestions were beyond me. However, I recently took a fresh look at it, and it seems they’ve made it easier to use.

Regardless, the built-in grammar checker in Microsoft Word is a great place to start. Though this still requires the writer to decide which suggestions to accept and which ones to reject, it’s easier to manage. While this won’t catch everything, it covers the basics.

In my experience as a publication editor, most of the submissions I receive could benefit from doing this basic grammar check in Word before they submitted their work. It seems many people have turned off this option (I once did), and some don’t bother to run spell check either. Don’t make that mistake.

What is the Future of Book Publishing?

Will book publishing follow the path of the music and movie industries?

Digital books and book publishing

When people look at the future of book publishing they often draw parallels to music and video. In many ways this is instructive, but not in all cases. What does the future hold for digital books?

Digital Music and Video

Look at the history of music. With music there were 78-rpm records, cassettes, 8 tracks, vinyl records, CD, and iTunes/iPods.

Next consider the progression of video. With video there were Beta tapes, VHS tapes, video disks, DVD, and Blue Ray.

Digital Books

Music and video both show a user progression of format and consumption to the digital realm. One might conclude, therefore, that printed word will give way to the digital word, that print books will cede to digital books, be it e-books or audio.

I don’t see that happening, at least not completely.E-readers and audio books will never completely replace the printed word. Click To Tweet

To say that e-readers will completely replace printed books is like saying iTunes will replace concerts or Blu-Ray will replace theater. It’s not going to happen.

E-Readers

True, e-readers may one day dominate the reading public’s preference, but just as there will always be demand for concerts and theater, so too for the printed word. The key for authors and publishers is to embrace both options, not pick sides.

As a reader, do you prefer print or digital? As a writer should you care?

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Discussing the art of writing and the business of publishing

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