From Self-Publishing to Traditional — Should You Take the Leap?
Many authors self-publish their first book. Success by this route depends on many factors, including timing, budgets, and marketing considerations. So how do you know when it’s right to take the switch and become published traditionally?
It’s not uncommon to question when to stop self-publishing and contact traditional publishing houses, if you are an author with goals and ambition.
In order to grow, large publishers require agented submissions, and finding an agent in a field with such intense competition is daunting. Smaller publishers may accept direct submissions; however, they are sifting through hundreds of manuscripts and have the resources to publish only a small percentage of submissions.
Ultimately, if you tick ‘yes’ to each of these sections below – perhaps now is a better time than ever to plan for transition.
You Want to Take Your Career to the Next Level
Many authors with bestsellers published by traditional houses started by self-publishing. As their careers progressed, they found that self-publishing came with certain limitations. In order to take their careers to the next level, there came a point when finding a traditional publisher was critical.
Are you at the point where a traditional publisher is the way to go? If you find yourself struggling with these issues, it may be time to find an agent or submit directly to traditional publishers.
You’re Running Out of Marketing Options
After your base of fans has bought your book and you've used all the social media outlets and ideas for book signings you can think of, what do you do next? There are marketing services, but they may be costly. If you've gone as far as you can in promoting your book, it's time to find a publisher who can help expand your market to areas you can’t reach solo.
You Want Professional Editing and Cover Art
Agents and publishers can be a world of help with this. Editing is more than grammar checking and finding the balance between showing and telling. There are also considerations for making the book sell better, such as having an attractive book cover; traditional publishers understand how to craft your book to sell. They also have artists who can create that eye-catching cover you dream about.
You Want Your Book in Major Retailers and Libraries
As this requires printing your book by the thousands in order to meet distribution, realistically only traditional publishers can absorb the upfront costs of large print runs. Buyers for these big outlets often shop from the publisher's catalogues, so if seeing your print edition in retail chains or libraries across the country is your goal, reaching out to agents and publishers is the first step.
A note about publishing contracts:
In most publishing contracts, the publisher purchases the rights for a specified period, after which point the rights revert back to the author. An advance in royalties is often paid to the author upon signing. The contract will also spell out royalty rates and when royalties are paid. These contracts generally work in favour of the author versus self-publishing because the author often receives an advance, the publisher absorbs the production and marketing costs, and the author benefits from the publisher's editorial department, art department, and distribution channels.
Transitioning as a self-publishing author to an author associated with a publishing house is a gamble and can be very hard to accomplish, however the benefits allude to suggesting that the switch is a good one if you genuinely can ‘make it’.