Different publishing models: publishing pros and cons

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Publishing pros and cons: 3 different approaches
Nick Artsruni
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An overview of publishing pros and cons for various approaches to publicizing your work

Publishing pros and cons: 3 different approaches
Jeweler Wallace Chan – published by BPS

As I mentioned in my previous post, contemporary publishing models can generally be split into three main categories:

  1. Traditional publishing
  2. Self-publishing
  3. Vanity publishing (aka contract publishing)

There’s also a fourth approach that we favor at BPS – bespoke publishing. But more on that later.

It may be tempting to look at the main 3 options above and only see the negatives of each. Traditional publishing is a shrinking industry that, arguably, is stuck in the last century. At the same time, self-publishing and vanity publishing are often seen as the lesser cousins of “real” publishing. But, as ever, there are pros and cons to each approach…

Traditional publishing pros and cons

As a writer, I can’t think of a greater feeling than to have your work validated by a peer. Signing a royalties contract with a traditional publisher is a fantastic endorsement. It’s proof of the industry’s belief that you and your work has value to a wider audience.

But a caveat here: the money isn’t great. If your aim is to monetize your content to the maximum, traditional publishing probably isn’t right for you. Standard agreements for first time authors and contributors are notoriously stingy.

Forget about an advance (unless, like a friend of mine, you regularly get asked to “do a bit” – or serve an ace – when you get recognized in public). For example: an author making as little as 10% on royalties under a certain number of copies sold is common.

Further to the above, I’ve put together a list of pros and cons to traditional publishing in the table below.

Industry validationNeed a robust marketing strategy; must demonstrate existing traction in this area
Guaranteed editing and design expertiseTypically, first-time authors have an immediately recognizable personal or professional brand
Unparalleled marketing – just make sure this is included in your contract!Most of your earnings will go back to the publisher to effectively pay off their initial investment
Rights sales: a huge market opportunity that deserves its own post (let me know in the comments if you’d like to find out more).Say goodbye to your IP: the publisher might end up owning the copyright of your work

Self – publishing pros and cons

People who are dismissive about self-publishing often fail to understand its potential monetary benefits.

Traditional publishers effectively operate as a central agency to handle the essential aspects of producing and distributing a book. By sidestepping their involvement and dealing directly with key service providers, you have the freedom to negotiate your own terms.

If, for example, you already employ a design team, what is the benefit of having a publisher design your jacket covers? Yes, they know best what the market will respond to, but is that worth signing away the majority of your sales revenue?

Publishing expertise is not to be underestimated, though. What if that design team you use for your digital marketing doesn’t know that colors print in CMYK rather than RGB? You might not end up with the front cover you expected…

These are certainly all factors worth considering – and I’ve added a few more below:

Total creative control over your projectLack of expertise could have negative impact
Total financial control over your projectLess prestigious than partnering with a publisher
You take 100% of total revenuesLots of co-ordination and admin required

Vanity publishing pros and cons

This option is all about expediency. Vanity or contract publishing is effectively a “pay-to-play” approach to getting your project published. If you feel you need to be published under a third party imprint in order for your book to carry weight – and if you have the budget to make that happen – then this is the choice for you.

Strictly speaking, the perception of vanity publishing corresponds to its name. But the negative perception can often be offset by picking a big name publisher to partner with. While some exotic-sounding international publishers are synonymous with puff-piece vanity projects, others have the necessary gravitas to make your project a success – and have the relevant, big-name readership network to prove it. Consequently, finding the right partner is key.

Before you sign up for contract publishing, here are a few other factors to consider:

Budget is the only barrier to entryCosts can vary wildly depending on the publisher. Get multiple quotes!
Straightforward production process handled by the publisherUnscrupulous operators are common. Make sure your publisher has properly prepped your project before publication – or risk severe embarrassment
If done discreetly and correctly, your book would not necessarily be perceived as a vanity projectPeers in your industry will be able to identify a vanity project published by the usual suspects

different publishing models
Photo by Viktor Talashuk

The 4th option: bespoke publishing

In conclusion, it seems clear that there’s no single winning approach to publishing your project.

With that in mind, we at BPS decided to put together an approach that would draw on the best of each of the above while sidestepping some of the more obvious drawbacks.

“Bespoke publishing” is our term to describe how we can get your project published. Working with us eliminates the need to pitch multiple publishers – the media group BPS is part of has its own, established imprints through which we can publish your project.

Our experience means we can handle every aspect of your project – from ghostwriting to design to printing – easily and effectively with just a single point of contact.

You’ll retain all the control over your project’s creative, profits and IP. Lastly, we can handle all aspects of sales and distribution through Amazon, direct distribution to major influencers in your field and through physical, global retailers.

To summarize:

Publish with an established, successful imprint
Utilize 20+ years of experience and expertise
Single point of contact for all aspects of publishing your project
Total creative control
Total financial control
Retain your IP rights
Multi-channel sales & distribution (including through Amazon)

I can’t think of any cons to this approach but, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below.

Nick Artsruni

Twice-published author, magazine founder, and 15-year veteran of the publishing industry.


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