…and what to expect from them.
So, you’ve written your amazing tale of two elephants, one sentient carrot, and a comedic yet sociopathic human out to destroy them all. Congratulations – and not just because that’s an incredibly hard book to pull off!
The fact that you’ve completed a manuscript is an achievement in and of itself, and you should be proud of yourself. The only problem is you have no idea what to do next, and there are all these publishing terms people throw around which you now have to learn.
No one told you that you would have to learn a whole new language before you could make some important decisions about what to do with your tome. You don’t know a small press from a juice press, and the term legacy publisher sounds like something left to you in the last will and testament of your Great Aunt Gertrude.
Fear not! Here’s a handy dandy list that summarizes the different types of publishing and publisher so you can make a slightly more informed decision.
They can often be recognized by the use of the phrase “University of [college name] Press”, although they may well have a different brand.
These are the behemoths of the industry. When most people say publisher they’re talking about these guys.
There are currently five of them, and they are:
If you see a reference to the Big Six it refers to these guys prior to the merger of the two publishing houses: Penguin, and Random House.
This term is sometimes used interchangeably as people get confused between self-publishing and vanity publishing.
Short for independent publisher. Refers to someone publishing their own work, or a small publishing house usually specializing in a niche market.
PRINT ON DEMAND PUBLISHERS
Usually you will submit your manuscript in digital format and provide the cover art. You will then go on to choose the paper it is to be printed on and the book size, although some POD operations limit these options.
A price per book will be calculated, and then you will either request a run of x number of books. More commonly nowadays, each book will be printed and delivered when someone purchases a copy if the service is integrated with an existing bookseller. Examples of this include CreateSpace and LuLu.
Due to the fluid nature of such texts, most professional publishers have moved the majority of their works online.
Authors who have chosen to publish their own works via a platform such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
No money is paid by the author to publish the book, although costs such as editing and cover art may have been incurred in the production of the book.
These are simply smaller publishing houses than the Big Five. A press will normally fall into this category when they generate sales less than $50 million a year or release less than 10 new titles a year.
Publishers that provide all the usual services expected by authors and readers. They locate, or have submitted to them, manuscripts which they then turn into physical and digital books. Each will normally have submission guidelines which they expect writers to follow.
In return for accepting a manuscript for publication it is normal for them to be responsible for, and in control of, the entire production process. However, in recent years there have been reports of some erosion in the services and quality control that they offer, including editing.
In violation of the principle of Yog’s law, which says that money flows to the writer, vanity presses will print a book for you in exchange for said money. If you are attempting to submit a book for publication and are asked to pay any fees up front by a publishing house or by an agent, run in the other direction.
These are not to be confused with Print on Demand publishers.
I believe I’ve managed to cover the majority of the different kinds of publishers out there. If I’ve missed any please let me know and I will update the list.
Be sure to carefully appraise any publisher that you intend to work with.
There are many options for writers nowadays, including the option to publish your own work. Each approach has its pros and cons so make sure to ask the educated questions, and always, always remember Yog’s Law!
If you have a topic that you would like me to cover, or want more details on a specific subject then feel free to contact me or say so in the comments section below.