Select the Right Publisher to Assure Success For Your Book

Selecting the right method of publishing your book is always a challenge, but for novice authors who begin to write after retirement, the task is particularly difficult. The excitement of having completed their first book is quickly tempered as they plunge into the confusing maze that characterizes the publishing industry. That experience is very different from working in a familiar area that has been associated with the life-long career that they have recently left.The options are many, but as newcomers to the industry it is not easy to select the ideal method or the best publishing house. If you are one of these retirees and realize that your professional background hasn’t prepared you for the intricacies of bringing your manuscript to life, this brief primer will offer you a basis for making your selections.Three Publishing MethodsThe publishing world is broken into three basic categories: traditional, publishing on demand (POD) and self-publishing. Each is characterized in part by a specific methodology that is based on the capability and the requirements of the printing press that it uses. Presses used to produce books are broken into two groups.Digital printing, the newest entry into the publishing field, is accomplished with a technology similar to that used in computer printing. Its greatest advantage is the ability to print short press runs, not previously possible. Many retirees will recognize this system as an extension of the digital printing facilities their former companies operated in-house.Offset presses, the old tried and true war horses of the industry, require an inked image that is then transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket on the press. Its shortcoming is its inability to print fewer than 1,500 copies cost-effectively. There is substantial waste as the plates and ink are adjusted to obtain perfect colors and registration. Offset is ideal for longer press runs.Traditional PublishersTraditional publishing houses are the ones that rapidly come to mind when most people speak of publishing. They are the behemoths like Doubleday, Penguin, Knopf, etc. Today most of the “biggies” have been absorbed by huge conglomerates, and are extremely difficult for the average author to contract. They deal almost exclusively with celebrities, political figures and well-established writers, and usually print by offset because of the large quantities they produce.Access to one of these houses usually requires first retaining the services of a literary agent, not an easy task. The agent then attempts to place your book with a publisher, and if successful, shepherds it through all production activities and manages all monies involved for you.Fortunately, the majors are not the only participants in traditional publishing. Thousands of smaller, independent publishers have sprung up across the nation. Some of these have become highly successful and well-recognized in the industry. Many do not require that you submit your manuscript through an agent. They will accept them directly, and welcome first-time and less experienced authors.POD PublishingPOD houses have proliferated in the last decade. They are offshoots of digital technology and thrive because of the simplicity of moving your manuscript onto press and the ability to print any quantity of books you might need, no matter how small. That means newcomers can launch their careers without investing in press runs of thousands of books. It is ideal technology for memoirs and short how-to books targeted to very specific audiences.With POD, you pay a single upfront charge. In return, the house handles all pre-press requirements from designing a cover and formatting the interior to obtaining an ISBN, Library of Congress certification and in some cases a formal copyright. The house then prints your book and in most cases places it with book stores and with one of both of the major wholesalers. When books are purchased, you receive a royalty.The major downside of this is that the wholesale price the POD charges for the book very often is not competitive with the market and consequently retards sales to some degree. If you want books for your own use, you must buy them at an author’s discount and waive any royalties on the purchase.The other concern with POD publishing is that the lesser quality houses release books that are poorly designed and in too many cases very poorly written. The lack of uniform standards has marred the reputation of this segment of the industry, but the more recent successes of quality POD houses are turning that reputation around. I consider POD an excellent means of entering the publishing world for first-time authors.Growing Popularity of Self-PublishingWhile many people mistakenly refer to POD as self-publishing, it is not. In the case of true self-publishing, every task is completed by the author or in some cases farmed out to professionals under the direct supervision of the author. That includes all of the pre-pub activities mentioned above in the POD section, as well as printing and distributing.This approach has attracted growing interest on the part of authors, both new and experienced. While it requires an investment up front to cover all costs, every penny of profit goes directly into the author’s pocket.Publishing is a critical element in your effort to bring your book to the marketplace. Before you leap into a contract, make sure you have selected the most beneficial publisher, one that can give your book the boost it deserves. You’ve waited a long time to realize your dream of writing a book. Your choice of publisher will go a long way to making your retirement writing ultimately successful.

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