Friday, February 25, 2011

The Risks in Getting Published

There are a lot of questions about the benefits of getting published versus self-publishing. But first consider the risks.

I have had the good fortune of having published more than 100 titles. I have also self-published 7 books, one of which landed me an agent and publisher.

As a publishing company owner, having launched hundreds of campaigns for my authors, I can tell you that your book gets one chance to prove itself.

If your book does not take root in the marketplace, determined by its ability to produce immediate reorders (and few returns), you become not just backlist like every book that is 3 or more months old, but you quickly fall off the radar of your once eager publicist. She or he is too busy working on the hottest titles.

Publishers must go to where the sales are. They do that by continually seeking ways to own a niche' in the market. They produce title after title, hoping the next will be a winner. Meanwhile, they continue promoting only those titles that show a sales growth pattern. It's just simple economics.

The publisher puts out an initial print run backed by a media campaign of a size befitting anticipated sales. If the book doesn't stick, most publishers hope the book will at least contribute to monthly backlist sales. When all sales die, the book falls fate to remaindering. This, of course, is frustrating to the author. The silver lining is that rights will likely revert back to you, and you can exploit them in other ways yourself.

It is important to note that once you sign a publishing contract, you give up rights to your book. In most cases the rights to your next books too.

One path to consider is to first self-publish your book. By producing a professional self-published book, and building an author platform, you essentially package yourself. And packages have value. A good package will reduce a publisher's risk by reducing their development costs. And you can get on press sooner.

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