Publishing…wading the seas of information and misinformation

Deciding which avenue to pursue for publishing seems even more daunting than writing my novel. As I set about my quest to decide the next step, I turned my focus to an important question: “What drives the book publishing world?”

Trying to search the internet for information on book publishing provides an endless barrage of ads promising a quick way for authors to publish books.  In my search for an unbiased opinion, I turned to National Public Radio (NPR) where I found the audio cast “Self-Publishing: No Longer Just a Vanity Project.”  I found some good information highlighted below.

The audio cast educates without being an attempt at sales.  As someone who is hearing more and more about self-publishing, I was attracted to the content. There is a long held perception that traditional publishing is more prestigious than self-publishing and only those unworthy of securing a book contract turn to self-publishing (a perception quickly changing I might add). With the introduction of the e-reader, authors turned down by book publishers are finding success…and higher royalties for their work with self-publishing options.

While on the surface, the payment of royalties is a major difference between self and traditional publishing, the deeper difference is in financial risk.  Money drives publishing…period.  In traditional publishing, the company pays for all up-front costs from designing the cover and editing to printing costs and marketing. With self-publishing, the author assumes the financial responsibility, and in turn the financial gain if the book is successful. The audio cast suggests that increasing financial risk is another reason new authors cannot secure book deals. Publishers are not willing to take a gamble with the unknown (and if they do, the author has very little control over the material).

For new authors, marketing is a deciding factor on success.  Even with a terrific novel, if the author doesn’t sell themselves, the venture will fail.  The responsibility for marketing is greater with self-publishing, but a traditional publisher will also insist on the author becoming involved in the process. According to the audio cast, the publisher will only acquire new authors capable of taking on the marketing burden. While in the past, publishers paid for authors to go on book tours as well as offering lavish book release parties, the trend is moving away from such strategies.

Changing their business model is another strategy publishers haven taken to reduce costs.  Simon and Schuster, a major traditional publisher, has decided to venture into the self-publishing realm to mitigate the impact of e-readers and self-publishing.  Authors can now self-publish through their subsidiary, Archway Publishing.  While the published works are not endorsed in any way by Simon and Schuster, the publisher does track sales, watching for trending new authors. Successful self-published authors are noticed and have an increased chance in receiving a traditional book deal.

The podcast gave some insight into what drives the publishing world.  In addition, the content referenced provided helpful links to other sources in self-publishing. As far as my question, I have a much better understanding of the publishing world, and the discoveries have reinforced my inclination to go the self-publishing route with my own novel. My search, however, is far from over. With over 148 million “hits” when you enter self-publishing into a search engine, the project will continue to be massive.

For more information, please view the NPR audio cast here:


4 Replies to “Publishing…wading the seas of information and misinformation”

  1. I too am getting to the point where I’m considering publishing, and trying to learn more about traditional v. self-publishing. Thanks for sharing this. Very informative.


  2. Sounds like you found a great resource on NPR. Things are changing quickly, and what was relevant last year may not be now. Writers doing their own marketing, whether self publishing or through a publisher, is consistently true. You are your own brand, which you will sell. Seems it’s no longer enough to write well!


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