The Problems of the Traditional Publishing Model
What happens if you are an author who opts to go the traditional publishing route? Typically, you invest a tremendous amount of time and effort in preparing queries and proposals in an attempt to sell your book idea to a potential publisher. The odds are your idea will be rejected – many times over! If you persist, you may eventually find a publisher, but during the time you invested in the hunt, you probably could have written and self-published your book and starting collecting commissions from its sale. If you are a prolific writer, you might even have written several books during this timeframe!
However, if you managed to make the sale, you will have to move through the publishing cycle on the publisher’s timeframe—not yours—and if your publisher is working to traditional industry standards, your book will hit the market in about 18 to 24 months.
Traditional publishers manage the printing and editorial process, as well as oversee book distribution, and handle promotion. They charge a fee for this service, and typically pay writers an average 6 to 10 percent royalty on net sales. However, it is also customary in the industry to hold back a reserve of about 20 percent to protect them against returns of unsold books. Of course, returns for unsold books are deducted from the author’s royalties. If you, as an author, are clasping a protective hand over your wallet at this point in time, you have a right to be concerned. This traditional model does appear to be taking money out of your pocket. We'll touch on that again a little later.
So, what is the bottom line for choosing to use a traditional publisher?
- Long cycle from concept to point of sale
- Little or no editorial control
- Wait time for royalties to be paid
- Unsold book revenues deducted from your earnings
- Idea may be rejected and never make it to print