Traditional publishing vs. self-publishing

copy-of-booksWhenever writers get together, the topic of publishing nearly always comes up. Even though lots of blogs cover it, and there are lots of articles out there, I feel like it needs to be addressed yet again.

Over the weekend, I went to a book signing by multiple authors. A couple of authors approached me and asked for tips about publishing. I explained that my first book was traditionally published in 2014, and the other two (Fatal Impulse and Diamond in the Rough) are self-published. Both individuals asked me how much it cost to publish traditionally. I was shocked at the question.

Let me be clear: You should NEVER pay to publish your book. If you are paying a publisher, you are NOT traditionally published. You have paid what is commonly known as a vanity press to publish your book. You pay them, they put your manuscript together, have copies printed and sell them to you. I suppose there might be individuals who are okay with this arrangement, but I am NOT. Do a little research before you publish – with ANY company. Know what their reputation is. Find out what you are paying for. Ask around to see if others have dealings with them. There are fantastic resources out there like Absolute Write Watercooler and Preditors and Editors. (not updated, but still has links to good info). If you don’t know what those are, go to the links and read. Trust me.

One individual waved it off when I said I wasn’t happy with my traditional publisher. She said something like, “Well, you own the rights so you can take it somewhere else.”

No. You can’t. When you are traditionally published, the publisher buys the rights from you. You should have a contract that spells out those rights.

Then she asked how much I paid to have my self-published books published. She was shocked when I said I did not pay to get them published.

Self-publishing shouldn’t cost you anything, except for those jobs that you subcontract out to others (such as editing, formatting, cover art). When you pay for those things, you aren’t paying to publish, you are paying a business expense.

So, here’s the deal: If you are thinking about one of those self-publishing companies, a vanity press that promises to publish your book for the low, low price of $1,000 or $2,000 or even more (!) (YES – I had a man email me who paid over $5000 for 100 copies of his book – YIKES!!), Don’t do it. Just don’t. But sign up for Writescouts and take the class I’m offering in 2017 on how to self-publish without going broke.

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