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Should I Self Publish or Work with a Publisher?

Those authors who manage to catch a publisher's attention can sometimes enjoy the opportunity to have a guide through the process of publication. Those who go it alone, however, maintain more control of their work. Learn which option best suits you.

Most know the traditional publishing route of author proposals submitted to publisher for publication. For many authors, the traditional route leads to an author developing a strong relationship with a publisher for the initial book, and any subsequent books. For some authors, the road is rockier.

An option for authors who receive rejections from a publisher is self-publishing. The self-publishing option, while different from traditional book publishing, is still a worthwhile way to show the world what you know.

What Makes a Book Successful?

Whether you go the self-publishing or working with a publisher route, do your research. Refine your topic to fit your knowledge base. Keep in mind trends in your industry. Has someone already published a book on your topic? Can you change the focus of your topic?

If national legislation is about to pass that will affect your industry and your research involves proposed changes, fast track your manuscript. A timely book will hit the market by storm. Don’t wait to submit, or someone else may beat you to it.

Self-Publishing Options

By working with a publisher, someone else is in charge. By self-publishing, the buck stops with you. You will be in charge of writing, editing, printing, and promoting your book. You may earn more money than going the traditional publishing route, but can you do the “jack-of-all-trades” job necessary to get a published book?

As a self-publisher, you will need to find the services and staffing provided by and necessary for a successful product. Publishing house staff would provide these services to you. As a self-publisher, you will need to find:

  • A Lawyer -- The lawyer can draw up any contracts needed by you. If working with a publisher, legal advice and representation is important.
  • An Editor or Proofreader -- After writing your manuscript for months, a second pair of eyes will catch errors you missed.
  • A Printer -- Who will print your book? Ask around for recommendations. Find out which printers did a great job. Steer clear of any printers who did a poor job.
  • An Online Site to Publish Your Book -- Check ebook Crossroads for a listing of ebook publishers. You want to publish as an electronic book or ebook. Ebooks are sold as downloadable pdfs or are uploaded to ebook readers, and provide additional revenue for you.
  • Marketing Support -- Once published, how will you let people know about your book? Dedicated website? Link of your business website? Social media promotion on Twitter and Facebook?

As a business owner, you may balk at not earning the money generated by large publishing houses, but consider the benefits of self-publishing. As the publisher of the book, you get all the profits. If you list your book for sale on your website, visitors may buy or download your book while on your website.

Working with a Publisher

A book publisher handles all aspects of the publication cycle of a book. Just call it the “soup to nuts” approach. Of course, without the author, there would be no book.

Before you contact a publisher, write! You need to have a written proposal or in some cases a finished chapter or two before a publisher will consider publishing your book. After all, a publisher needs to know that the book you are writing is (1) a good fit for the publishing house and (2) there is a market interested in the book. Give the publisher a thoroughly researched manuscript and he will help you publish a successful book. Give the publisher a poorly written, lacking in solid research proposal and you leave the publisher no choice but to reject your proposal.

The publisher will work with you to develop your proposal. A highly educated and gifted engineer may need help with writing. A skilled publisher will assign an acquisitions editor to help the author “whip the manuscript in to shape.” Some publishers may lack resources to give this high-level of editorial help to an author. In cases where the author’s knowledge base and expertise is of need to the market, a publisher may agree to help an author.

The publisher will assign one of its in-house editors to work with you. This editor is your point-of-contact. She will shepherd your manuscript through the publication cycle with final manuscript approval. From this point on, the editor’s main job will be to make a success out of your book.

Your role in the production cycle involves meeting deadlines, answering questions, and providing anything else the author asks for. Don’t be surprised if asked to resubmit artwork and tables in a more user-friendly format. The editor is not your enemy. Yes, he may ask many nit-picky questions, but his goal is that same as yours: a finished product worthy of both you and the publisher.

Whether you make money by self-publishing or not, you will at least get the chance to publish a book. Many authors shop a book proposal to many publishers without finding a publisher who will agree to publish.