Today I want to explain a little more about the role of a self-publishing ebook author. But first, let’s start by examining what traditional publishers do. This 3-part post is an extract from The Indie Author’s Guide to Publishing Ebooks.
Part 1. The Role of Traditional Publishers
If you are thinking of becoming an independent author or self-publisher then you better have a good understanding of the role of a publisher.
Some writers love to complain that publishers don’t do much for their money but that is not really true. Publishing involves a number of stages including development, acquisition, copyediting, graphic design, production, marketing and distribution. The publisher might not do every one of these activities in-house but they are usually responsible for managing each stage.
The six largest publishers worldwide are commonly referred to as “The Big Six”. The current big six are Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, MacMillan Publishers Ltd, Penguin Group, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. Each of these big publishers has multiple imprints or publishing houses under their parent “umbrella”.
It can be difficult and time consuming to land a traditional publisher for your book. Unless your work is truly exceptional you may have to endure months or even years of rejection… and you are expected to emerge from this period of rejection, somehow, with your sanity and writing confidence intact.
If your manuscript is finally accepted then you will have to endure another long wait while your book is published, printed and distributed and eventually makes its way into the hands of your readers. That might be eighteen months after you signed your contract.
To streamline the acquisition of manuscripts many major publishing houses now only accept submissions via literary agents. That means an author needs a literary agent to represent them, to market their work and to negotiate contracts with publishers. Literary agents typically take a cut of 10 to 20% of an author’s earnings.
With such a challenging process it is really no wonder that writers turn to self-publishing.