Tuesday, January 22, 2013

How to Publish: Self-Publishing or Brick and Mortar

So in the last few weeks we have been discussing how to write a book, and the process of ratifying the plot, building characters, and eventually closing down the book to it's conclusion. Now we are going to move into the publishing sector, probably the most dubious of things. I personally have been learning a lot about this recently from co-collaborators on Spirit of Orn so I feel confident that now of all times I can talk about the nuances of publishing with you. 

There are two choices that you are dealing with when publishing. 

Brick and Mortar

The first of these choices is the most familiar traditional way of publishing. It is analogous with getting signed, or getting drafted into sports, or something like that because it's more rooted in the spirit of discovery. I'm talking about the Brick and Mortar publishing houses, like Zondervan or Penguin or Harper or Bantam, etc. We will go into further detail down the line, but it's safe to say now that with a Brick and Mortar House the idea is that most of all the publishing process is taken care of for you. The dimensions the publisher will look for as criteria when finding you are your Market Affinity, Story Quality, and Existing Tribes. Market affinity deals with your book matching their mission statement. Obviously a Non-Fiction press is not going to publish a Science Fiction title, so when your agent is looking for publishers that's major criterion they are working with. Story Quality is a given. If the Editor-in-Chief  isn't grabbed by your book proposal then you don't have much going for you. Lastly, if you have Existing Tribes, like say your a professional athlete or an established, but well known, journalist, and you want to write a book about something, you are more likely to get a book deal simply because people already know you, and you have a base that can be marketed to on the get go. The bottom line with Brick and Mortar houses is that PR, Marketing, and Distribution are all handled through the company network, so by selecting a particular author they are taking a risk on the Author and the content's success. 

Self Publishing

Originally back in the old days, if someone was going to self publish, they would take a story, bind it with a cover illustration and a back jacket, and go off to a printing house to get about 12,000 copies made. After that, they would have a garage full of books and the author would go on tour, much like a music group, to self promote and sell books at local book signings at coffee shops or libraries. Obviously, without the oversight of a publishing house it was really easy for the self publishing author to make mistakes and not go about it the best way. That is why, up until the recent decade self publishing was a bit of a fopa in the publishing world. But now with Kindle it's all changed.

You see, it's not bad to self publish. Very soon I too will be going into that world, and I am ready to blab about all the stuff I'm going to have to deal with when that happens. But essentially the way self publishing works is that you have to take care of all the PR on your own, build your tribes on your own, and do everything from a grassroots perspective. I'll talk more in detail about this at a later time, but suffice to say when you self publish the most important thing to do is build a base of readership. It is from this base that you will sell your books. Amazon Kindle for instance, takes care of all your book distribution based off of aggregate counters and statistics. There's no printing aspect involved either because it's all digital. So when you have a base readership on a blog, such as this, of say 300 followers, about three percent of that are going to actually buy your content. So you advertise from your blog and refer them to amazon, and then hope to God you have something!

Which One?

Between the two, both are just fine. Lately though, Brick and Mortal houses have been under a lot of pressure in recent years because of the financial crisis. They can not push out books because of the success and marketability of Kindle and other grassroots type publishing methods. Really, where the advantage lies in the Brick and Mortar houses are their ability to PR and Market your book. Interestingly enough, many publishing houses now have people called Acquisitions Directors. At Scriptorium International I work for one. His job is to go out and find authors who have the salt and meet the mission statement of the publishing company, Authentic Publishing, and extend to them offers of getting a book deal. Most of the people he signs now are self published authors who saw commercial success of their books also. So really it seem that self publishing is the way to go. Getting an agent helps of course, but it's very informative to self publish these days, as it teaches you more about how publishing works in general. 

Anyways, I hope that was a helpful first look into the second branch of our series. I'll see you on Thursday to discuss the next step of publishing in a Brick and Mortar house. Regards, and see you then! 

SW

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