Option 1: Full-Service Publishers
By Tara McClendon, the Despicable Muse of Indie U
Over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with a variety of writers. Some of them knew from the beginning that they wanted to indie publish. Others tried to sell a book through traditional methods and failed. No matter which path these individuals thought they were going to take, they all found themselves facing the task of trying to decipher the publishing process. You very well may be at this point yourself.
For this next series of posts, I'm going to dive into the options for indie publishers. And, let me be honest, I will include some print options that many "real" writers and industry professionals sneer at. Before we get started, I do want to toss out a disclaimer: I am not endorsing any specific method for publication. Of course, that does mean I can give you the negative sides as well as the positive, because I'm not trying to sell you on any one type of publishing. You will have to evaluate the pros and cons and determine which option will best fulfill your goals as an indie writer.
Full-service publishing companies try to bridge self-publishing and traditional publishing options. Companies, such as Outskirts Press, market their businesses as giving you complete control over book publishing, but this isn't always the case. Let's take a closer look at what you can and can't get with these companies.
Pro #1: You can usually get professional help with your book. This can be a great asset to newbie indies who aren't familiar with all the ins and outs of producing a book.
Con #1: Most companies won't tell you what qualifications their "professionals" have. Usually, these companies will have staff members who at least have some experience in the industry; however, you most likely won't be working with a professional editor who has worked in traditional publishing.
Pro #2: You get to control how much you want to charge for your books, which can directly influence how much money you make.
Con #2: Setting your own prices can be beneficial, but this is only part of the equation that will determine whether you're able to sell your book. If you set your prices wrong, you may hurt your sales.
Pro #3: Most full-service publishers offer an array of services.
Con #3: Each full-service publisher sets its own list of services, so what you get with one company for one price usually varies from those offered with other full-service companies. For example, Abbott Press connects your book with Writer's Digest, a nationally recognized resource for writers. Others will register your book for an ISBN and help you list your books with online vendors and other booksellers.
Con #4: The more voice you want, the more you should plan to pay. Full-service publishers will work with you to create your book's cover and layout, but you aren't going to have an unlimited say in the process. The people who work on your project will usually have guidelines that will outline what you get for the money you plan to pay. Some companies believe that your ability to approve the final look is enough control for most writers.
Pro #5: Retain the rights to your work.
This one actually doesn't have a con. When you work with a traditional publisher, you often give up certain rights. I know an author who can't publish additional work based on his original idea without violating his contract with the traditional publisher. Unfortunately, the publisher has decided not to move ahead with more books; however, it has not released the author's rights. If he wants to be able to write the sequels to his story, he'll have to get legal help, which he can't afford.
Using a full-service publisher can be a great option for writers who want to spend less time on production and more time writing. While many of these companies produce quality work, I hope you can see that you will need to look beyond each company's marketing to determine whether a company is the one you want to hire.
We'll be looking at some of your other indie publishing options as we continue with this week's series. In the meantime, you should review your business plan for writing and determine the areas of book publishing that you know you will need help with as you continue your writing career.