Regarding Publishing...

Posted by Kat on April 28th, 2011 at 1:30 PM

I've been doing a lot of research (and papers!) on the topic of publishing fiction, and I still can't decide what to do for my own trilogy. I'll cut and paste some tidbits from past papers to save some time.

Traditional Publishing

According to FictionFactor, traditionally published authors earn around 15% from a hardback edition of their novel and 7.5% for a paperback version. However, the book must exceed the amount that the publishing house paid the author in advance before these percentages can be taken. Traditionally Published authors also have the advantage of Foreign Rights, which usually require a publisher with a foreign rights department or a foreign rights agent. Sales in foreign countries were described as “free money because I get paid to do nothing” by Joe Moore, an accomplished author who has been published internationally. While there is no “set in stone” statistic for royalty rates, publishing abroad can yield significant profits depending on the country and their interests/economic situation.

Getting a novel published (NOT including book tours and the like) will not cost anything more than the money the author paid to print out chapter samples (although most are emailed).

Traditional Publishers have the connections to get a book just about anywhere – even overseas. The novel should be available in bookstores, libraries, online shops such as Amazon, and similar retailers.

Internet and Self Publishing are very similar, but they do have a few differences. A self-published author would not use a service such as CreateSpace or Lulu to distribute their book – instead, they would have the books physically shipped to their home of office to sell themselves. Such services take a cut of the profit, so contracting with a printer or making the books by hand will have a cost upfront but will not involve any later fees from publishing services. Self publishers may create their own online listings, contact bookstores in person, sell books through their website, or sell copies in person at signings or book fairs.

In both reports, I concluded the following:

Based on the three criterions, Traditional Publishing is the best option of the three because of its little to no cost upfront and the novel’s widespread accessibility. Although the royalties are not as high as they would be for internet or self publishing, the fact that the novel will be so widely distributed means that the amount sold could, with small royalties, surpass even a self-published author bringing in 50% profit from each novel.

To be published by a publishing house, an author must do the following:

  • Complete and edit the novel to the best of their ability
  • Compile a list of agents who seek novels in a similar category
  • Prepare a query, plot summary, and sample as specified by the agent
  • Send off queries and wait patiently.

If an author is taken on by an agent, he or she will be the one to contact publishing houses about the novel. If a publishing house is interested in purchasing rights, a contract is prepared and the author must sign it for the book to be published. The author will lose rights over their work.

However, there is an ethical aspect to publishing that must be taken into account – do you wish to maintain all of your rights over your novel? If staying true to a particular vision is more important than money, Self Publishing is the best because it allows the author complete and utter control over their work, including aspects such as:

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Formatting
  • Print Style
  • Hardback/Paperback
  • Content

Although the author will be responsible for all marketing and promotional efforts, their creative control will still be available.

To conclude: If the author does not mind relinquishing rights to a publisher, Traditional Publishing is the best avenue of publishing due to its low initial costs and the novel’s accessibility. If the author would rather retain all rights, their budget and capacity to promote will determine whether they use Internet or Self Publishing.

As some of you have noticed, I am very nit-picky over the appearances of my characters, especially Zanni. To have some small-faced dainty blonde on the cover would be horrific, and I'd quite frankly rather never let my books see the light of day if they were to be misrepresented like that. Because this trilogy is so near and dear to my heart, I want as much control over it stylistically as possible.

So, it all comes down to which means more: profit of creative control?

I'm leaning towards creative control, but it's hard to say. If I self published (or even internet published), it would be extremely difficult for me to build a fanbase. Because my novels would not be available in bookstores, they would be more difficult to purchase. I can imagine that those of you who do purchase a copy would simply lend it to your friends rather than having them buy their own.

Anyways, enough about all of that (I need to head to class!). My question to you is this - how do you think this trilogy should be published and why? Keep in mind that Traditional Publishing is no guarantee - chances are that I won't interest an agent or a publishing house. It's extremely competitive.

EDIT: I couldn't add this before I went to class, but my current solution is to start off by doing Internet Publishing with an option to buy books directly from me (In which case, I'd autograph it). If I make a significant number of sales, I can then approach an agent. If it were to be published by a publishing house, they probably wouldn't tamper with the names of the books so as not to interfere with/disrupt the fan base I'd already built. If I can't sell enough copies, then I can rest easy knowing that my little world is the way that I envisioned it.


  1. Comment by Amber Johnson on April 28, 2011 at 2:19pm

    I'd say to do Traditional Publishing. Although it may take a while to get an agent, it is definitely better. There are more positives to Traditional. For one, your books would be so widespread around the globe. More people to enjoy your book. Plus, that's a big pride factor knowing that someone in Europe is reading your book. Also, you would not have to pay a huge initial fee, which helps if you're on a budget in this horrible economy. Although you may lose your own creativity, I think that more people will get to read your book because it can be advertised better. Which, in the long run, brings home more money.

  2. Comment by Kat Mellon on April 28, 2011 at 3:08pm

    I could afford the initial fee of ordering copies to sell myself (selling through CreateSpace doesn't have an initial fee because they're a print on demand company), and someone could just buy from me directly if they can't get the book from Amazon. I'm still thinking that having control creatively is more important than profit at this point (which is horrible, but that's life). See my edit above (I couldn't add it before you commented!)

  3. Comment by FreeFallen on April 29, 2011 at 8:11am

    I went to a Publishing information meeting (I'll be blowed, I was the youngest person there) and I picked up the following points.
    1. You're likely to get feedback from publishers on your story if you email it to them. Emailing, and you can get a response in two weeks. Sending a manuscript could take 6 months, because the stockpile is sooo high, and the people glancing through the stockpile often fail to notice new talent.
    2. If you let publishers know that you're willing to do workshops, interviews, tours etc., they're more likely to take you on.
    3. Regards to formatting your story in email, you send a summary of story, what you plan to have in each chapter, then a few of your best chapters. Sending the whole story will make the person on the other end groan.

    You probably knew all this already, but just thought I'd share some wisdom with ya.

  4. Comment by Kat Mellon on April 29, 2011 at 8:57am

    Yup, did know - and have done - all of that already. Each agent has submission guidelines (for example, the agent I emailed wanted the first 50 pages of the ms, a synopsis, and a query letter). In the States, you generally don't mail an entire manuscript to a publisher without an agent. Most don't accept unsolicited manuscripts.