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Seven Secrets About Commercial Publishing You Didn't Know
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You've spent months or even years writing your masterpiece and you sent it out to some regular commercial publishers. After many months of waiting, all you got for your trouble was form rejection letters that said "your book wasn't what they were looking for at this time." You were heartbroken and thought there was no hope of ever getting published. Here are some facts about those traditional publishers.
1. Traditional publishers lose money on over 85% of the books they publish, so they only accept 2% of those that are submitted.
2. In most cases they only accept manuscripts from established authors who have demonstrated a proven track record and lots of sales. Or if the writer is a public speaker they sometimes figure that will produce some sales.
3. Authors lose all control of their content during the editing process. It can be changed and some of the sections you like the most can be removed.
4. You expect the commercial publisher to pour many thousands of dollars into promoting your book for months. They usually give it one good marketing push, but if sales don't take off, sayonara to you. They must move on to the next books coming off the presses. Authors are still expected invest an enormous amount of time, energy, and even money promoting a traditionally-published book.
5. Authors typically receive 5-10% royalty on the wholesale price of the book, and from that they have to give 15-25% to their agent. Do the math. It isn't rocket science.
6. The majority of books published by traditional publishers go out of print within three years. Many books that are stocked on book shelves remain stocked for as little as five weeks before being returned unsold to the publisher.
7. Typical commercial publishers acquire all rights to your book and keep them, sometimes even when the book goes out of print or the publisher goes out of business! Print-on-demand publishers let you keep the copyright so you can do anything you want with it. If you decide later you want to get it printed yourself by a local printer, the POD publisher says fine. Or if your book sells really well, a commercial may want to publish and promote it.
One thing you've got to understand, however, if you opt for self-publishing through a print-on-demand publisher is that their typical deluxe publishing package does not include marketing. For example, one print-on-demand publisher charges $1000 for a huge package that includes acquiring the copyright for you, getting an ISBN number, allowing you to select a cover design, formatting the manuscript, submitting the book to huge online booksellers like Amazon, providing a distributor, providing some free copies, etc. However, though that sounds as if it will sell books, it will not. You must pay extra for them to help market the book. This can cost anywhere from $500-$3000 and it includes such options as getting your book professionally reviewed, hiring a publicist, creating a video trailer, hiring a marketer, offering your book in bookstores, etc.
However, you must honestly decide if your book will have commercial appeal. If your book is a personal memoir, it may appeal primarily to your family and some close friends. If your book is about the mating customs of tree frogs, or something that may not draw a large audience. In these cases, you may not want to pay extra for marketing because your readership is somewhat limited. Just the same, you can and should get your book published.
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