Understanding Publishing #2 – The Publisher’s Job

Hi, all. The second part of this series will deal with what you can expect from a conventional publisher. I am omitting self-publishing for now, as I will address that later.

So, let’s say your book has been accepted by a publisher. What can you expect from them and what are their duties?

First thing first: you should never have to pay any money upfront for to have your book published, unless you are self-publishing. A conventional publisher will take in all the profits from sales, and you will be paid from that. That’s how you get paid. So, you don’t and shouldn’t have to pay anything to pitch your book to a publisher or for them to publish it. If they ask for that, seek advice because it could be a scam.

A publisher, at a minimum, should provide editing services, design, publicity, marketing and sales support.

The publisher has editors in house who will work with you to edit your book and get it in the best shape possible. It should be a collaborative effort with you. They shouldn’t put too much change on you. If so, you have to balance how much you want to work with this publisher versus how you want your book to look.

Publishing is a highly subjective industry, so if one publisher doesn’t like something, another might. One publisher may want to change the scope of a book while another doesn’t. You have options, so don’t feel like you have to take your first offer.

Your publisher should also have a designer on staff to design your cover. Once again, this should be in collaboration with you, but there are some things to keep in mind about your book’s cover and its title.

Publishers have a brand that they’ve worked on building for quite a while. They have accounts and industry professionals across the nation they work with. They have a standard they have established.

That means you won’t have as much control over your cover and/or your title. The publisher should give you input, but they have a brand to protect. And, despite the feeling of losing control, you want that. That’s part of the reason you are choosing a conventional publisher is because they already have all that established.

It’s a small compromise to alter your title a little to get access to the publisher’s network.

Ok. Here’s the meat and potatoes.

The sales, publicity and marketing. A publisher should provide you with a publicist and a sales rep to work with you on your project, at the least. Depending on the size of the publisher, this could be a team or a single person.

However, publishers do not market books indefinitely. They cannot afford to. They have upcoming books on the front list that are releasing and they need to help those authors as well.

Most publishers only publicize and market a book in a 4-5 month window.

Many times, I’ve worked with authors who misunderstand this. They think that once they turn a book over to the publisher that their work is done. They believe the publisher will have a robust publicity effort and won’t need the author to do any work.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

YOU are the most important person in the marketing of your book. First, well, you wrote it. You’re the authority, so if readers want access to anyone, it will be you and not your publisher.

That means you need to be as active or more than your publicist.

Publishers, like most industries, are risk averse. Because the profit margins in book sales are so small, most publishers can hardly afford to take a risk on a book that doesn’t pan out.

What that means for an author is that the author must be building their own platform. You must do all the work necessary to present yourself to your target audience. You need to have books in your trunk to sell to readers anywhere and you need to do as much as you can, both in conjunction with the publisher and on you own, to promote yourself and your work.

If you aren’t willing to work to do that, your sales will suffer.

There it is. That’s it in a nutshell.
If anyone has any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

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