You are an independent or freelance author who wants to publish a book. What is the best way to go about it? There are a few different choices with extreme differences. Let’s take a look at the different options and dispel some myths. We will look at the pros and cons of the three different types of publishers, saving the best for last! This article explores the differences between Traditional Publishers, Self-Publishing, and “Hybrid Publishers” such as Picky Press. If you are not sure which option is the best for you, this article will help you make an intelligent decision. Our goal is to help authors, regardless of whether you choose us or not. Also see “How We Compare” for a visual comparison table of several different publishers.
If one has enough money and a famous name, they can try their hand at landing a contract with a Traditional Publishing Company. Most people can’t achieve this route, but these are the pros and cons:
- Traditional Publishers use offset press, which can offer specialized covers and unusual sizes. However, this can get very expensive.
- You should get pretty good distribution, and be assured of getting your books into physical “brick and mortar” bookstores.
- A really good Traditional Publisher will do all of the marketing and promotion for the author. This is why they often charge money up front, as it helps to defray their cost.
- Some Traditional Publishers may pay an advance if you are famous enough and they really want your work. This helps promote the illusion of prestige.
- Getting a contract with a Traditional Publisher is usually somewhat unrealistic for most authors. Another sad truth is that unless you are a best-selling author with a huge hit, you will not generally be able to make a living by writing books. Most authors are in it for the love of writing. If you are only in it to make money alone, you may just consider the category of Self-Publishing.
- If you are a new or unpublished author, Traditional Publishers don’t know if you will be a profitable venture for them, so if they do happen to accept you, they will often ask for a sizable amount of money upfront in order to decrease their own risk.
- If a Traditional Publisher does consider your work, it may take anywhere from several months to a year before they get back with you, or to even find out if they have accepted or rejected your work, and during that time you may not even be able to do anything else with your own work!
- Traditional Publisher generally use off-set printing presses. This means they print a certain number of books. This means there are a limited number of books printed, and once the run is over, that’s it. No more books until another edition is deemed necessary years later, if at all!
- Once the book run is over, the Traditional Publisher may opt for your book to go out of print, meaning it is never available again.
- Traditional Publishers usually have an exclusive contract that cannot be broken or altered. If you are unhappy with them for some reason, you can’t do anything about it. You may be obligated to publish only with them, or worse yet, they often have a clause stating that they will own your work if you publish with them!
- Since there is a set number of book copies printed, you will likely be required to buy a certain number of them, and then you have to store them. You may wind up with a garage full of books that you cannot sell.
- A really bad Traditional Publisher does little or no promotion for their authors and their books, taking in your money but not investing in their authors. A book is only as successful as it is well-known.
Often, there is a very bad connotation connected with “self-publishing” or “vanity publishing”. This is not always unfounded. Let’s Look at their Pros and Cons:
- This is usually the cheapest way to get a book published.
- They may give you a free ISBN, but that ISBN is always going to be tied to a “self-publishing” company.
- It is very easy to simply upload your files and voila! You’ve got yourself a book!
- If your book has good content, is well-edited and professionally designed, a Traditional Publishing Company could eventually come across your book and offer you a contract. (Although sadly, there are some non-legitimate companies that prey on self-published authors promising a contract but offering to publish one book for a huge amount of money.)
- You may get a fairly nice royalty per book, but this only really adds up if many people know to buy your book.
- Self-publishing companies may or may not have quality control, and are certainly not known for discretion as to what they print. This helps give “self-publishing” a bad reputation. Books may be badly formatted (if formatted at all), shoddily manufactured, poorly written, or be among the “genre” of books that consist of get-rich-quick schemes advertising for one to purchase more books to achieve the goal.
- If you are unfamiliar with the printing business and the specifications needed to have high-quality, print-ready files up to the book industry’s specifications, your book can turn out to look like it was published by someone who didn’t know what they were doing. The pictures and cover may be fuzzy, the text may not be aligned properly, the formatting could be all wrong. There are a dozen reasons why there are professional publishing companies and it shows.
- There may be little or no quality control or no editing and proofreading involved, which is what gives “self-publishing” a bad name.
- Usually self-publishing companies that offer packages have a limit to the number of picture insertions allowed in a book.
- Most self-publishing companies force you to order a certain number of books, and have a minimum or maximum number per order.
- You may be forced into an exclusive one-year contract that cannot be broken if you do not like their results.
- The sad fact is that when one “self-publishes”, they are often taking the quick and cheap way out, ultimately selling themselves short. Any loony off the street can create a book with who-knows-what kind of content and it will be “published” by these companies.
- You may own the rights to your work, but the self-publishing company and its affiliates are able to control how they can use it. This can be extremely problematic if you ever come out with a newer edition of your book. They can even keep your new version from being seen in sale listings, in favor of promoting their own company’s older version. You will likely get the runaround when trying to prevent this from happening. They may claim “they can’t remove the old title” because there are sellers with used copies, or they still have some of the book in stock. This can ultimately force you to buy your own book at the retail price just in order to have the old version removed!
- You may not get the respect you deserve by self-publishing, no matter how good you are. You simply may not be taken seriously as an author.
- You may or may not get very wide distribution.
- It is entirely up to you to market your book. You may actually get a listing on one or two book websites, but there might not be any real potential for getting your book into an actual “brick and mortar” bookstore.
Examples of a self-published book (left) versus a book published by Picky Press’ printer (right) shown side by side. The cover image is crystal clear and sharp, and the laminated paperboard is thicker. The self-published book on the left has a fuzzy cover image.
Independent and Hybrid Publishers
Enter Picky Press. We are an Independent Publisher of Print-On-Demand (POD) books, sometimes loosely referred to as a “Hybrid” Publisher. We offer the best of all worlds. Let’s look at our Pros and Cons:
- First and foremost is quality! Not only do we make paperback and eBooks, but we specialize in durable and beautiful hardcover books that last a lifetime. We also offer several different ink and paper options for beautiful full-color pictures in books with graphics.
- We are a full-service publisher that offers most anything an author could need at affordable prices with the greatest possible value.
- You are in complete control of your work and always own all rights to it. Our non-exclusive contract can be broken if need be at any time (in writing), or you can stay with us.
- Since we offer Print-On-Demand books, your title never goes out of print, unless you want it to!
- You still make royalties on any books that are sold (excluding ones you buy at cost– see below).
- We offer promotional materials to go along with your book to help you market it. We can provide you with all the tools you need to promote your book and get it noticed, from physical marketing materials like posters and bookmarks, to professional custom websites, sell sheets, and book reviews.
- We professionally design and layout your book to meet the printing specifications and publishing industry standards, and we will create beautiful covers for your book (with your input and/or your own design).
- We can provide book distribution to over 40,000 libraries, online booksellers, and bookstores (including “brick and mortar”), across the globe, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo.
- Picky Press is registered with the Library of Congress and Bowker, the company that issues ISBNs and supplies data to the global “Books In Print” catalog.
- Our ISBNs are registered to Picky Press. It will never be listed as having been “Self-Published”, unlike certain “free publishing” services.
- We do not force our authors to buy a certain amount of books in order to start publishing with us. That means no garage full of books, and no huge investment up front.
- Each author that publishes with us gets their own free Author Page that features all of their books, plus a whole book page for each book we publish.
- Our authors can buy their own books at cost (not including shipping and handling), without any minimum or maximum number of books to be ordered.
- There is no limit to the number of picture insertions allowed in your book. If your book has more pictures than the maximum amount listed in a Bundle or service, for a small fee, more pictures can be added. (This is because picture insertions go through a special process to assure that the proper resolution, ink saturation values and other technical digital printing specifications are met.)
- Authors must do all of their own marketing and book promotion, but we do offer products and services to help. This is how we are able to keep our prices for products and services lower than most quality Independent and Hybrid Publishers.
- You must pay for a Picky Press ISBN if you want your book distributed around the world, but we do offer them for a discounted price.
What Can Picky Press Do for You?
Providing that your book meets our publishing guidelines, we accept all New Independent Authors (NIAs) and as long as your book is well-written, will not turn anyone away. We have quality services with various bundles that offer an incredible value depending on your needs and budget.
When you sign up with Picky Press, we will have you sign a contract and W-9, because you are paid royalties on your books sold through retailers. We cannot promise that your book will be a best-seller, but we can promise you that you will get the highest quality books, and personalized services for as reasonable a price as possible. Our reputation depends on it!