Understanding the Traditional Publishing Model – 5 Facts

When publishing a book, writers always come across a pivotal publishing decision that will change the course of their writing careers forever: self-publish or go the traditional publishing route. In order to make that decision, She Writes wants to demystify the traditional publishing model and dish a dose of reality so you can make a more secure decision for your book’s future. Here are five facts that will help you understand the traditional publishing model:

Fact #1 - The Traditional Publishing Model Means Knocking On Many Doors

When you self-publish, you have the liberty to choose the time, manner and creative direction in which your book is published. When seeking the backing of a publishing house, this means committing to the traditional process of becoming an author and requires a spine to withhold the inevitable carousel of rejections – though the reward of surviving this process could be worthwhile. Expect writing hundreds of query letters or acquiring a literary agent who can commit wholeheartedly to this process for you.

Fact #2 - Your Manuscript Will Be Selected Only if it Fits Current Trends and Publisher’s Commercial Goals

In order to understand the traditional publisher, one must mentally put creative value to the side and see through a strictly business-only perspective. Rejections often don’t mean your manuscript is worthless or bad (not at all), but rather indicates that it doesn’t fit the upcoming literary or fictional trends they invest millions into predicting. They want to see a healthy profit margin and only select works with have commercial longevity – no matter how brilliant your magnum opus is.   

Fact #3 - You Lose Rights Once a Publishing House Buys Your Work

If your book does catch the interest of a publisher and an offer comes your way, it’s important to carefully comb through every legality that comes with accepting it. Once you sign the rights over to the publisher, it’s in their hands and you no longer have control over the success or failure of your book. With that said, major publishers are publicity powerhouses and can propel your book to the summit of literary success – just be sure to go with a publisher you trust and keep a lawyer by your side throughout the process.

Fact #4 - The Publishing House Owns All Creative Decisions Once You Sign

Along with the loss of legal rights, you lose something most authors hold even more dear: creative control. One of the most thrilling benefits of self-publishing is you maintain creative control over your written child in all aspects – from the font to the cover, it’s your final call. Once a publishing house owns your manuscript every creative decision henceforth is made internally with the author on the distant sidelines.

Fact #5 - You Can Potentially Make Millions, But They Decide

The payment possibilities between traditional publishing and self-publishing are quite bipolar. In self-publishing, the investment is 100% on your end, which could climb into thousands of dollars of expense but potential for profit has no ceiling. In traditional publishing, they pay you an advance – which could be small or millions – to cover royalties. Depending on the contract, you may be entitled to a small portion of the royalties thereafter or have no rights to them at all.

Going with a traditional publisher could potentially be the best case scenario for your book – especially if it’s a publisher you trust. As the publishing models continue to evolve daily and the power shifts from publishing houses to new media, it’s more important than ever to consider what is uniquely best for the future, success and longevity of your creative works.

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