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  • Grant Handgis ~ Author/Poet

Using Publishing Tools


I've been writing about variations to the available publishing avenues, the services, costs and any contractual demands therein, with the intent of explaining the options open to the writers of today. A theoretical explanation of an ever changing practice can go only so far in the larger explanation to the diverse range of writers with unique needs and skills each seeking the same end result. I am aware of the many thousands of new writers getting their manuscripts to print each year, as well as the obstacles that present themselves along the way. I want to narrow that population down to a few of the authors I have come to know, from reading their books, and coming to know them personally.

The authors I will be mentioning, interestingly enough, live in the Pacific northwest in the thick green country. Being I will be discussing personal publishing choices I leave names out, as their names have little to do with the discussion at hand.

Author #1 has a list of books published through a traditional publisher, and is a very talented writer and storyteller. One of the latest books, however, was independently published (self-published) through Create Space, using the available publishing services offered. A choice not easily reached, but based upon the drawbacks of tradiitonal publishing timelines. That book, alongside any of her other books would not be detected as being any different from any other in her collection. Which goes to demonstrate that there can be an equivalence of visual quality between traditional published books and POD published books. It is my belief that the vast majority of today's readers would not realize the difference between a press run or digitally run book. They are there for the material inside, but it is a great marketing point.

Author #2, uses the hybrid form of publication, through something akin to the traditional publishing contract, whereupon the 'publisher' contractually prints the book, and with this particular publisher, does marketing for the author using trailers, postings, releases and other marketing efforts. This arrangement is that combination of the old vanity press setup, sans the pre-printed books, and Independent publishing (self-publishing) using a Print on Demand (POD) platform. The author pays for the services chosen along the way, like formatting & layout, cover design, etc. As I am not privy to contractual details, such as royalty amount, I leave it out. My analysis of this setup is that since the author is paying upfront for all preparations to the book's ultimate release, and in all likelihood for the said marketing thereafter, the share of royalties should be favored on the author's side. But that's just me.

An aside on this topic is the similarity of publishing methods between traditional publishing and the new hybrid publisher. Their similarities are with having a contractual arrangement with the author. They differ in subtle ways, with the hybrid method costing the author upfront expenses for a professional book, the traditional method now demanding an author have a “platform” of at least 5000 (email addresses of ready to read fans) Some demand 10,000. I touched on that in an earlier post and will surely revisit that subject in the future. Both publishing models handle the process to print in very similar manners. The traditional method takes at least two years to reach print stage. The hybrid method can have a book from manuscript to print in weeks.

Author #3 released a first novel recently to very high acclaim from readers, after years of working on the manuscript. The decision between seeking a traditional publisher and independently publishing was not taken lightly and took months in making an informed choice, that they could live with. It turns out the choice fell on independent publishing, which turned out beautifully. In this situation, the fusion is between independent & Hybrid publishing processes. Both systems allow for the author to go through the process from manuscript to print without any contract. Both systems offer professional publishing services, like editing, formatting & layout, cover design, etc. On the hybrid side, the author tends to go the contractual route, paying for the services and allowing the publisher to contractually put it all together for them. An independent author has the option of doing the process without any outside influence or professional services, but can use any or all of the services, a la carte. Without any contract.

For this author, change is usually not optional, but inevitable. My publishing history has held to the independent publishing model. I'm a bit of a control freak. You know the type... “I know what I want and the only way I'll ever get what I want is if I do it myself”. . . . Learning to relegate duties isn't easy for a control freak. I know though that it is time, with the changing demands of the books I am now writing. I don't mind though. I'm an old dog but I am capable of learning new tricks, when there is a convincing reason to do so.


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