As the self-publishing industry has grown and matured, it is natural that new service providers are now harnessing the growth in book publishing to create new businesses.
Over the last year or so, one of the biggest growth areas has been independent publishers. Many new authors are asking, ‘Should I use a publisher?’
For many reasons, the services of a publisher can offer many tempting benefits to an author, especially for those authors new to self-publishing.
For the computer and Internet savvy, self-publishing is quite easy, yet there could well be time-saving possibilities that a reliable and honest publisher could offer.
If an author can spend more time writing rather than fighting with technology and wasting hours on social media, this may be one very good reason to engage a publisher.
Independent publishers fall into two main categories. Those who offer ‘assisted‘ self-publishing, which is a service that is usually charged for with a ‘one off fee‘ to get a book correctly formatted, a cover designed, perhaps a well-written book description and then publishing on retail platforms such as Kindle and Smashwords.
The second is a full-service publisher, who will manage publishing, marketing, sales and then make their money from a percentage of your book sales royalties.
Should I use a publisher?
Before signing up with a publisher, ask these questions BEFORE you sign.
As with any service providers, there are good and bad, so make sure you do your homework before entering into an agreement.
If you are considering using the services of an independent publisher, here are ten questions that you really need to ask before signing up.
1. Do I retain all rights to my book?
There should be no reason whatsoever for a publisher to ask for the rights to your book. Unless the publisher is offering you a substantial advance, which is highly unlikely, never sign away the rights to your book.
2. How do I terminate our publishing agreement?
So many problems can occur in any contractual arrangement. When considering a publishing agreement, never sign up or agree without knowing how the contract can be terminated. If the terms of termination involve losing the rights to your book, do not sign!
3. What is the total cost?
For assisted self-publishing this is very important. Make sure you get a detailed account in writing of what services will be performed, and how much you will be charged for each item. Make sure it is a fixed price and that you will not be charged for extras at a later date.
4. What services will you provide as my publisher?
Will you edit, copy edit or at least proofread my book before formatting and publishing it? Is there a charge for these services? Or am I responsible for undertaking the expense of preparing the final manuscript?
5. What will my royalty rate be and how often or when will I get paid?
A full-service publisher will take a percentage of your book sales royalty, so be certain of what this will amount will be. As royalties vary with every online retailer, from approximately 35% up to 70%, ask for a detailed explanation of how much the publisher will take in each case. Most importantly, how and when will your royalties be paid.
6. Will I get sales reports?
If your publisher manages your retailer accounts, you will probably not have access to this information, so you will have to rely on your publisher supplying you with sales and royalty reports on a regular basis. These should be supplied to you on at least a quarterly basis.
7. Who will promote your book?
A publisher of any worth should have a solid marketing platform, and preferably one with a sizeable mailing list. Of course, you will be expected to do a lot of book promotion for your own book, but be sure to ask how the publisher how they intend to market your book and maximise its sales opportunities.
8. How long has the publisher been in business?
An obvious question. Do your homework.
9. How many authors and titles does the publisher manage?
While a publisher may be new and have only a small stable, this may not be a bad thing, as you may receive more attention. Beware of small publishers that publish a vast amount of titles in a short period, as they won’t necessarily have the resources to give each author the time they deserve.
10. Can I contact a couple of authors who you currently publish?
This is by far the best way to find out of a publisher is worth considering, and what they are like to work with. If the publisher refuses, beware.
There are more questions of course, depending on what you expect or would like from an independent publisher, so make sure you ask your questions, before making any commitments.