16 February 2013 - 6:23 pm

Independent vs Traditional Publishing: Services

(Part of the indie vs trad series.)

There are a lot of logistics and collateral to be sorted out before a book can be published. This is what I’m referring to as ‘services’: the items required for a book to get published. These usually require a time and money investment.

Here’s the breakdown of who is responsible for what:

Publishing MethodAuthor ResponsiblePublisher Responsible
TraditionalEditing reworksEditing
Proof approvalCover design
Marketing collateral (usually)
Publishing/conversion to ebook formats
IndependentEditingPublishing/conversion to ebook formats
Editing reworks
Proof approval
Cover design
Marketing collateral

(This is a generalisation; some contracts might have exceptions in the above.)

Ever feel like this is what you're doing? Photo by Images_of_Money

Ever feel like this is what you’re doing?
Photo by Images_of_Money

As you can see, for traditional publishing, an author should not be laying out any money in order for the book to be published. All you should be responsible for is writing a damned good book and helping the publisher hone it into the best book it can be. Some authors supplement their marketing collateral by having additional items made – like business cards or bookmarks – but this isn’t required.

When publishing independently, almost everything rests with you. You’re responsible for getting it done (and done well!), or not. You can find services you can pay to do these things for you or you can do it yourself for free; how much you spend is entirely your choice, though there are factors you should consider before making that decision. (For example, professional-level editing and cover design can have a big impact on sales.)

The effort and cost impacts are pretty obvious from the table above. The column on the right is entirely covered by the commission that the publisher takes from your sales revenue; your books are expected to pay for it in the long run.

The trade-offs I mentioned in earlier posts begin to come clear. Here is a list of tangible things that the publisher does for you. In some ways, you get what you pay for. (And you always pay in some way; nothing is for free.)

The real questions: can you shoulder the burden of all of those things? Would you prefer to have professionals handle it for you?

Next up: Royalties & Pricing

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