Yesterday, I gathered with a group of area writers at the Haverhill Public Library Authors Fair. My table was situated between Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, an author who publishes traditionally, and Connie Johnson Hambley, a self-published mystery writer. This was the perfect place for me: I’m a hybrid author who has jumped from a traditional publisher (Random House) to indie publishing and back to a traditional house again. As I start my fourth novel to be published by New American Library/Penguin Random House, I have no contract for the next one. This means that I’m revisiting the all-important question for many writers: do I want to go solo when I publish my next book, or stay where I am?
This is a good time to roundup what I’ve learned about publishing. In the process, I want to dismantle four common myths:
1. Publishers are Out to Screw Authors
MYTH. Publishing companies are businesses that compete in a global marketplace. Their job is to make money—and, in so doing, they will make money for you.
With a traditional publisher, you will get royalties from your books—typically about 25 percent of ebook sales. This is much less than the percentage of royalties you’ll get if you self publish. Rates vary, but with self publishing, you’ll reap about 65 percent of a book sale as your royalty rate.
On the other hand, with a traditional publishing deal, you will get an advance against royalties—anywhere from $5K to $45K for most first-time novelists, though of course there are some pie-in-the-sky whopper deals. You will also get—for free!–an editor, publicist, marketing team, designers, sales people, etc. Your team at a traditional publisher will help you whip your book into shape and get it into the hands of readers.