The Questions

Publishing – Publishers charging for Publishing are not Publishers

Self-Publishing VRs Traditional Publishing

“How and where do I find a publisher who doesn’t charge any upfront fees?”

It seems there are a whole lot of misconceptions on who or what is a publisher. Last month I covered a question concerning publishing and copyright. Now, it seems we need more information, so let me tell you that a publisher will NEVER charge an author upfront fees. In fact, they will never charge an author any fees at all. Companies who do that are not publishers.

Self-Publishing IssuesA publisher will take an author’s hand and walk them through getting their work ready to publish. Once edits are completed, they will then finish off by compiling and complete the production of the work to either print, digital, and/or audio (it is not limited to one of these publication channels but can be one or all of them).

People (authors) who use companies they have to pay to get their work published are self-published authors. They receive the bulk of the royalties upon the sale of copies of their book and must do all the leg work involved in getting the distribution network done.

A true publisher will pay for all the work done on the manuscript including the costs of printing. If the author orders books for their own collection or sales, then the publishing company will charge them, but only for books ordered by the author.

Many people confuse a company who helps you self-publish with a publishing company. They are not the same. In fact, there is so much difference that it starts to be glaringly obvious the moment you send them your manuscript. Here’s the breakdown for those who are having difficulty with the whole process:

1 – Author sends in a manuscript

Traditional publisher reads it and decides if they want to publish it or not. They will send out a formal letter (email) to the author advising they received the manuscript and will be in touch shortly (2-3 months).

Self-Publishing company will email immediately and start trying to sell services like editing, critiquing, cover creation, press releases, distribution, and all those other little headaches that come up with publishing.

2 – Manuscript Acceptance

Traditional publisher will send either an acceptance or reject letter (email) to the author. Most of them are generic responses to the submission while others can be a little more personalized. If you receive a personalized letter, read it. The true message, like your, manuscript needs more work or shows potential but not right now may be revealed with what to do next. Other messages can include things like we already published something very close to this and cannot take yours on as well.

Self-Publishing companies will always accept manuscripts. It doesn’t matter if the person has the worse grammar or spelling, it is a chance they have to sell products and services, so they take it. Believe me, there are a lot of manuscripts that should never be published but are. This is where the vulture nickname comes in. They’ll string an author along and sell them package after package to see how much they can get (I think the reps are on commission) out of the writer. It is not really fair, for some people are easily separated from their money when it comes to getting published.

3 – Publishing the Work

Traditional publishers take their time to do it right. Editing, though sometimes fast, takes time. It may appear as if they have pushed you the edit in two days, but they actually worked on it for a while. And also, your work could have been in a holding pattern while they worked on another release. Artwork is usually breathtaking and detailed. They hire professional editors. There are a lot of resources that they use in order to get things ready. They use professional printers and ensure the work is perfect.

Self-Publishing companies will offer you multiple choices on your cover art. Some will look like a child put it together while others will seem rushed and confusing to the eye. The final print is often skewed and off centre, making the printing not perfect on the page. It is because they take the lowest bid on the printing, thus saving all their money for profit.

4 – Royalties

Traditional publishers pay their authors royalties based on sales. They do this as per their contract with the author and can pay either annually, bi-annually, quarterly, or on a set schedule. Publishers pay when sales hit a minimum and all advances paid back.

Self-Publishing companies pay authors royalties based on sales. They usually pay monthly and only retain a small portion of the funds for themselves as a handling fee. Usually, they don’t do the distribution unless they are large and greedy. Most of the time you only get a substandard book with poor editing and left to your own devices for distribution.

These are only a few of the differences between traditional and self-publishing.

How do you find traditional publishing companies? Well, that’s another Quora story that will take as long as this one to answer. Message me for info on a few publishers I know open for unsolicited submissions.

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