We all know what traditional publishing is: query an agent, sign with agent, agent sells book to publisher, book gets published. And lose all your rights. We also know it’s not as easy as listing the steps.
We all know what self publishing is: upload your manuscript to createspace, design a cover, sell your books. Keep your rights. We also know there is more to that as well. You should hire a structural editor, a copy editor, a cover designer, etc. It can get expensive. Structural editors can cost as much as $60 an hour which could run upwards of $3,000 or more. And then how do you even know if they are any good, if your money was well spent? Sure you can self publish without any of the extra cost, but not sure if that is the best route. It’s impossible for a writer to look at his own work with an objective eye. I’m aware there are ways around this: join a writing group to get your work critiqued by strangers, post parts of your writing on your blog and have your followers give you feedback, beta readers. But again, are they professionals? Or just hopeless romantics like you?
I’ve set a goal of 300 rejections before I self publish. Not because I think traditional publishing is the right route, but because I think I would sell more books that way. I would have experts helping me along the way instead of my inexperienced, idealistic ass trying to sell books at local open mic nights. Yes, I’m that shameless.
A couple of times I thought I had a bite. I thought a couple small presses were interested in my writing. I was contacted via email. Was told my writing was good. Was told they could sell my work. I got my hopes up. Couldn’t sleep. Had dreams of signing a contract. Texted my beta readers that I think it was about to happen. And then…
I was told that these small presses occasionally offer traditional publishing contracts with the industry standard of 10% royalties, but most of their authors choose the “partnership publishing” route where you get 40% royalties and maintain your rights. The author is expected to contribute around $4,000 – $6,000 of the cost. At first it sounds like a scam, right? A writer has already invested years into writing the manuscript but now a publisher wants him to invest in publishing it, too? How is that different than self publishing?
Well, I do think there is a slight difference. The partnership publishing companies will make money the more successful your book is. On top of the money the writer has already paid them, of course. So they want you to sell a lot of books, too. They work, or should from the conversations I’ve had with them, for you in getting media coverage in the form of press releases, radio and tv interviews, book reviews, and can get you into bookstores. They have editors and graphic designers that will help strengthen your work. Basically, the money you would or should spend with self publishing.
Partnership publishing, as far as cost, is about as much as self publishing unless you go the bare bones route of doing everything yourself.
I’m not sure I have a conclusion to this. If after 300 rejections I decide to self publish, I’m probably going to spend money to make sure I have the best product possible. Do I spend the money and do it all on my own to keep 100% of my return or do I trust a company to help sell more books but lose some of the royalties? Has anyone tried partnership publishing and more first hand experience with it? I have yet to find someone who has went this route.