One of the first questions many people asked when I announced that I was writing a book was ‘who is the publisher?
This early question that presents itself for would-be authors is actually quite a complicated one to address. The terminology alone is mind boggling. There is ‘vanity publishing’, ‘self publishing’, ‘co-operative publishing’, ‘conventional publishing’, ‘print on demand’ to understand before you can consider the bewildering array of choices.
So, it might be interesting to those of you who are considering writing a book to know that I’ve opted to self-publish mine by setting up Azrights Media Limited and using Publishing On Demand provider Lightning Source.
Well, it appealed to me more than other options such as self-publishing via Lulu, which is less satisfactory on a number of levels. For example, Lulu keeps a much higher share of the revenues from your book sales.
There are so many options available to authors nowadays, apart from conventional publishing and this article provides some food for thought.
The trend for people to self-publish is serious cause for concern for traditional publishing companies, but, as noted by Sukhdev Sandhu at the Guardian, things may be looking up for smaller publishers.
Many argue that innovation in the field has opened up powerful opportunities for those who are willing to think a little differently, embrace social media and technology, and, according to Jonathan Fields, to invest in tribes.
Personally, my main reason for not wanting to use mainstream publishing is the time it takes to get your book out to market, the loss of control over the type of book you can write, and the fact that you don’t have freedom to exploit the rights in the book in the ways you may want to do so.
There is a middle ground known as co-operative publishing. An example of one such provider that I was intending to use initially is Ecademy Press. (Interstingly, they too use Lightning Source). There are also traditional style publishers who are more selective about the types of book they will publish, such as Bookshaker, and yet also allow you to keep more of the royalties from the book than traditional publishers.
In the end, it didn’t take me long to decide to opt for self-publishing because being an intellectual property lawyer, I tend to think in terms of the rights. I knew that I wanted to own all the rights in the book so as to have complete freedom over the material. My plan is to produce some training materials and to work with lawyers in other countries to develop translations. So, although the book is going to be an ordinary business book rather than a law book, its content is relevant to our other plans and therefore, it was appropriate for us to go to the trouble of establishing our own publishing company and publishing the book ourselves.
When considering self-publishing I was initally drawn to Amazon’s platform Create Space, but at the time of writing their books are shipping from the US only, so it would not have been a suitable option for my target audience of UK based businesses.
By working with an experienced editor, a good designer and typesetter, it is certainly possible to produce a book that is of as high a quality as those printed by conventional publishers. Possibly distribution is better when you use a traditional publisher, but nowadays with the importance of Amazon in book sales and the diminishing role of bookstores that may be more of a theoretical disadvantage than a real one. It remains to be seen.
So, in conclusion, the gulf between self- and professional publishing is narrowing rapidly, and there are a wide range of options to suit all requirements. Watch this space to see how I get on when I publish Legally Branded which will be out within the next few months.