Writing a book is only part of the process of becoming an author. Choosing the right author is absolutely critical. In addition to traditional publishing houses, there are also now a wide variety of self-publishing options in addition to the industry which now lies between the two; co-operative publishing, in which authors and publishers jointly invest in a work and share the risk and reward.
With so many different publishing options available, researching your choices before diving in is necessary to ensure that you’re embarking on the right venture with the right publisher. To give some insights into the process of choosing a publisher, I’ve put together my top ten tips from 14 years of working in and around the industry.
- Know your choices well. Most people are aware of traditional publishing are far fewer people are aware of the other options available. Traditional publishers will typically pay a small advance and agree for either a percentage of the gross or a percentage of profits to be shared with the author. Self-publishing allows an author to fund their own project, or take advantage of free options. Co-operative publishing functions as a mix of the two; author and publisher making a joint investment in the project and sharing risk and reward.
- Know traditional publishing. Whether you take this route or not, understanding the process is important. Traditional publishers will analyze trends to judge the size of the market for a given book, so they’ll typically be looking for something that sounds new and innovative which also conforms to expectations in some way. Remember that new markets are created all the time, and all it takes is a spark of inspiration and the knowledge and drive to share it.
- Know your objectives. Have specific goals in mind – consider outcomes in addition to book sales.
- Find a balance. It’s highly beneficial to have help from the beginning, even with the huge importance of getting your ideas out as you want them to be. It often helps not to be too preoccupied with protecting your work from interference and instead being open to feedback and suggestion. Publishers have the experience required to smooth out and make an idea more easily marketable with often minor tweaking. After all, you both want to publish the most successful book possible.
- Research their PR provisions. PR is the best way to gain exposure and coverage for your book, and having a third party to endorse you makes it much easier to market your work. Some companies use their marketing department for PR, and the effectiveness of this will depends on the kind of relationship they have and can develop with key contacts in the media. PR, in my opinion, is best done by the professionals.
- Don’t waste time. It typically takes between 12 and 18 months from signing a publishing contract to seeing a book in print. I’d advise especially new authors to consider self or co-operative publishing as their plan B, if traditional publishing is their plan A.
- Publish in the most professional way you can afford. If you decide to invest in the publication of your own book, consider full-service or co-operative publishing. Pursuing this route allows you to work with publishers who can manage the entire project, reaching out and promoting your book to a wider audience than you could reach yourself. Decisions which have nothing to do with content can have a huge impact on the success of a book, from the trim size to the colour of the front cover. Professional publishers get your book on the shelves in bricks and mortar bookstores, and listed online on a wide variety of online vendors.
- Do your research. Whatever route you pursue, make sure you’re using a professionally trained editor with plenty of experience in working on full length books.
- Get to know the team. It’s vital that you get along with your publishing team and get to know how they work as a team. You’ll be working alongside them publishing team to get your book on the shelves and selling, after all.
- Seek help from the beginning. It would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to perfect a great idea that needs work.
written by Mindy Gibbins-Klein MBA FPSA FRSA is a multi-award-winning international speaker, author and thought leadership strategist. Her flagship book 24 Carat BOLD outlines the four attributes found in true thought leaders. Her latest book The Thoughtful Leader takes thought leadership to a new level.Founder and CEO of REAL Thought Leaders, The Book Midwife® and Panoma Press, Mindy has authored and co-authored eight books. She is also a regular contributor to the business press on thought leadership and raising your profile