Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak at an event sponsored by GLAWS (Greater Los Angeles Writers Society). It was held on the campus of Los Angeles Valley College and we had a packed house. It was a great day despite the 100+ degree weather in Southern California. My presentation was titled, The Four Paths to Publishing and with it, I outlined the four different opportunities authors have today to get their books into the hands of readers. In just a few weeks, I am going to publish a white paper with the same title, but essentially what I said was an author can choose from one of four options to get published today.
- DIY–This involves using an upload or online formating tool to get the book in distribution.
- General Contractor– Here the author hires a number of independent contractors to complete the book and market it.
- Publishing Package– With this option, an author chooses an assisted self-publishing company who packages all the services into a convenient one-stop shopping opportunity.
- Traditional Publishing–This is as it has always been.
The white paper will provide much more detail about each of these paths and discuss the advantages and drawbacks to each option, but the feedback from the seminar was this framework was very helpful to people as they try to navigate the new landscape of publishing. After the presentation, we opened up the floor for questions, which I always enjoy. There were more than an hours worth, but as I reflected on them later, I realized there were some common themes. Here are the three most common questions I was asked and a brief sentence or two on how I answered them.
- Which path is the best one for me? By far, this what most people were trying to figure out. Unfortunately, there is not one right answer, but there is a way to determine which path is best. Make sure you clearly articulate your goal for the book, the skills and experience you have, what time commitment you can make, and how much of a budget you have. With those items clearly identified, you will be able to choose the best path.
- I have a children’s book. How do I find an illustrator. Just like with the first question, there is not one answer that applies to every author. Depending on your goals and budget, there are a number of ways you can find an illustrator. First, if you pursue the publishing path option, most companies offer illustrations as part of their services. If you don’t want to utilize that option, you can find freelancers on sites like www.elance.com or www.odesk.com. Finally, if you live near a college or university, you might find some talent on those campuses looking for projects. However, you always want to be careful about setting expectations, deadlines, deliverables and payment terms.
- I have published three books with traditional publishers in the past, but all the editors I worked with are retired or dead. What do I do now? Ok, that was not a common question, but I thought it captured the anxiety and confusion many previsouly published authors are feeling right now. The publishing world has changed and while that can be frustrating, it also means there is more opportunity than ever before. So I told the gentlemen who asked the question that he should pursue self-publishing and agents and publishers would discover him anew.