Ask the Right Questions

We often get requests from authors about how to work with us to publish their books. The first thing the potential author asks is “how much?” That’s the wrong question. If you’re only interested in pricing, go to one of those online puppy mill presses–they publish the prices of their packages and the a la carte add-ons (like editing) and you can crunch the numbers and get your pricing.

But do you know what your pricing includes? Now that’s a right question.

Here are some more right questions.

  • Can you get the files, including the cover design and page layouts if you want to?
  • Do you get editing that follows Chicago Manual of Style (the book publishing industry standard)?
  • Do you get to keep all the profits from the book or do book orders need to go to the publisher so the publisher gets a  piece of the action on every order?
  • Do you have to store your books with them or do you have choices on where to store any books you’ve paid for?
  • Does the publisher publish anything (read: vanity press), or is it discerning in what it publishes (even if you  pay)?
  • Do you have a human contact point you can rely on or is it hard to connect with the same person through your project?

Your book is in print a long time and you really can’t afford to link your name (read: credibility) with publishers everyone recognizes like those puppy mill presses. They may work okay for novels, but they aren’t a good investment if you’re expecting your book to highlight your expertise or show off your good business acumen.

Which brings me to another right question. Why are you writing your book? If you’re writing it because writing a book is on your bucket list, any publishing option will fill that purpose. But, if you’re writing your book to show off your expertise (speakers, consultants, doctors, lawyers, experts, etc.) or to increase your potential for business, then you need to make a good business decision regarding your choice of publisher.

If writing a book were easy, everyone would do it. But most don’t start by asking the right questions–they only think about price and we all know you get what you pay for.

Happy writing.

 

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4 Responses to “Ask the Right Questions”


  1. 1 Carol Ann Hoel March 16, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Your post, “Asking the right questions,” displays issues one might not think to consider in a publishing package, and they are vital matters. Thank you for more clarity on the subject of self-publishing.

    The more I read about self-publishing of any kind, with or without the aid of a publishing company, puppy mill or other, the more I think a first-time author should look for a traditional publisher. I’m not stuck on this viewpoint, because I may have arrived at my conclusion prematurely.

    I think those writers whose money is not overflowing should think seriously about the loss involved if their self-publishing venture fails. I keep seeing writing samples by soon-to-be-published authors that I don’t believe represent the kind of smooth writing I expect when I purchase a book. I’m talking about novels on the road to publication. (Maybe their works are great and I don’t recognize it. There’s this possibility, of course, but anyway.)

    Why should I think that my own writing, as a first-time novelist, is better than theirs. It’s not easy to see the faults in one’s own manuscript, because, rolling around in the writer’s own mind, there is often more story than appears on the page. I understand that more clearly after being away from my manuscript long enough to see this better. I want to be able to trust that an assisting publisher is not willing to help me publish a novel that isn’t finished, because I’m ready to spend money. A traditional publisher, while keeping more of the profit, invests enough to be thoroughly motivated to ensure that a novel is worthy before making its investment. Even then, apparently, there is high risk of failure.

    I know that your company does not publish fiction, so I don’t expect you to engage in a long answer to this. On the other hand, there are some non-fiction writers that may have similar concerns.

    • 2 expertbookpublishing March 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      You make some good points–like the author should think seriously about the loss involved if their self-publishing venture fails. That’s exactly how publishers should think (whether royalty or self, etc.). Publishing in business, not dream fulfillment. Too many publishers (vanity, puppy mill, etc.) take advantage of authors with dreams of being published. Too often those dreams become nightmares because the author didn’t think seriously about publishing as business.

      On the other hand, royalty (traditional) publishers don’t invest in unknown authors. They really purchase the author’s intellectual property (which means it no longer belongs to the author) and they pay the production costs of the book, but it’s still up to the author to make the book a success (and make the publisher back the money invested). If the author fails the publisher, the author isn’t published again. It’s just business.

      You’re doing the right thing by accumulating information so when you are ready to publish you make the best business decision you can.

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