How do authors go about publishing a book in 2018? Jane Friedman says she is always asked if authors should self-publish or traditionally publish.
She says: ‘Since 2013, I have been annually updating this informational chart about the key book publishing paths. It is available as a PDF download—ideal for photocopying and distributing for workshops and classrooms.’
“My chart divides the field into traditional publishing, self-publishing/assisted publishing, and social publishing.
- Traditional publishing: I define this primarily as not paying to publish. Authors must exercise the most caution when signing with small presses; some mom-and-pop operations offer little advantage over self-publishing, especially when it comes to distribution and sales muscle. Also think carefully before signing a no-advance deal or digital-only deal. Such arrangements reduce the publisher’s risk, and this needs to be acknowledged if you’re choosing such deal—because you aren’t likely to get the same support and investment from the publisher on marketing and distribution.
- Self-publishing and assisted self-publishing: I define this as publishing on your own (with or without assistance) or paying to publish. I’ve divided up the self-publishing paths into entrepreneurial or do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches, where you essentially start your own publishing company, and directly hire and manage all help needed, and assisted models, where you enter into an agreement or contract with a publishing service or a hybrid publisher. With the latter approach, there’s a risk of paying too much money for basic services, and also for purchasing services you don’t need. If you can afford to pay a publisher or service to help you, then use the very detailed reviews at Independent Publishing Magazine by Mick Rooney to make sure you choose the best option for you.
- Social publishing: In the 2017 version of this chart, I removed social publishing because it seemed marginal and of little interest to the average writer. However, I think that was a mistake. Social efforts will always be an important and meaningful way that writers build a readership and gain attention, and it’s not necessary to publish and distribute a book to say that you’re an active and published writer. Plus, these social forms of publishing increasingly have monetisation built in, such as Patreon. In 2017, two of the top ten selling titles of the year were by Rupi Kaur, an Instapoet who began her career by posting her work on Instagram.’
Here is the 2018 update:
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