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What Advantages Can Traditional Publishing Still Offer to Established Authors?

Editorial and design services? Sales and marketing? Distribution? Prestige? None of the above?

By Edward Nawotka

In today’s lead story by Alisa Valdes the bestselling author describes her journey from working with a Big Six publishing house to self-publishing. In the piece, she notes that after she’d made the decision to self publish:

“The next step in my evolution was to figure out what, exactly, St. Martin’s Press had been doing for me to merit taking more than 90 percent of the profits from my work. Best I figured it boiled down to six things. Editing. Copy editing. Cover design. Marketing. Publicity. Distribution.”

She then details how she went about trying to do the same for herself with minimal cost and maximum results.

As self-publishing tools and authors ability to use them become more sophisticated, are there still areas where publishers can achieve far more than an established author working with a developed network? What advantages can traditional publishing still offer to established authors beyond what they can do for themselves?

Take our survey:
[poll id=13]

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  1. Peter Cook
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Please…Advantages…? Are there advantages to global airline travel versus puddle-jumping in your own little PiperCub? Are there advantages to being pianist for a metropolitan philharmonic as opposed to playing cocktail lounges at airport hotels? If your eternal soul was on trial in the highest court, wouldn’t the finest legal minds at bar serve you better than your own pro-se wits? The difference between a busker and soloist is what, then–that the busker simply hasn’t gotten around to building a theatre and a subscription audience yet?

    “Publishing,” to make a work public, involves, first, making a bet on worthiness. This alone–the gatekeeping function–imperfect as it is, serves both artist and society as the restaurateur serves the farmer or the jeweler serves the diamond miner…Bringing something to market and, in fact, forming that market are inextricable.

    Besides, Bowker tells us that in 2009, 45,181 “works of fiction” hit the market. That’s about five “works of fiction” every hour of the day and night. What author has the machinery and genius to navigate such a storm?

    At bottom, you can cheese up the lingo all all you want, but vanity presses (ink or e-ink) are in the printing business, not the publishing business. That quirky element–taste–makes all the difference in the world.

    Despite the lengthy, kitschy listings of famously famous tomes that have made their way onto our shelves via DIY, you only get 30,000 days and nights to do what it is you really want do in this life…Spending precious time running a kitchen-table book distribution business (with all the Internet magic on Earth) hardly seems the way to go if “author” is what you want them to put on your tombstone.

    But, whatever. To each his/her own.

  2. JR Tomlin
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, how dare those kitschy authors like Amanda Hocking have sold so many books without giving most of the profits away. 100,000+ books she sold in December alone. Puddle-jumping, indeed. And Joe Konrath having the nerve to sell without a contract to the “philharmonic”. Poor deluded people. Imagine having the nerve to call themselves authors just because people by the thousand every month are buying their novels–without permission from someone having declared them “worthy”.

    Besides their readers that is.

    Yep, to each their own.

  3. Posted August 18, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    Hocking’s signed with St. Martin’s Press and Konrath signed with AmazonEncore. So much for self-promotion/self-publishing. It’s easier to win with a team, though you do have to share the profits.

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