Recently, it's come to my attention that even amongst other writers, there is some confusion on what different types of publication entail. Today's post is my attempt to help clear up some of the confusion.
- Traditional publication: Traditionally published books are the ones you're most likely to find in your average bookstore. Odds are these authors have acquired an agent who sold their book to a publishing house, at which point it was edited by a professional editor, received professional cover art, has a marketing team behind it in some degree, etc. For most of us, this is "the dream".
- Large houses: These are the big guns--Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, etc. These houses have a lot of money and it's likely you would probably get the widest exposure through them. However, until you hit it big and prove yourself worth the investment, you aren't going to have a huge marketing budget.
- Small houses: There are a ton of smaller houses. Some are associated with the big guys, but others are independent. Odds are you will get more one on one attention, but since they don't have the big bucks backing them, you won't either.
- E-publishing: E-publishing is being hailed as the wave of the future. Just as most people now buy their music online, more and more consumers are purchasing digital copies of books. There are a wide variety of e-publishers out there. Some, like Carina Press, have the backing of a well-known print publisher, some (Samhain for instance) have been around for a while and are respected in the industry, some (like Decadent) are new and hoping to enter the ranks of the former with time and quality products, and some are fly-by-night groups that will be gone as quick as they came.
- The more established and better run houses will have professional editors just like the traditional publishers. They'll also have some sort of art department and someone who handles promotion (such as getting your book out for reviews). These houses don't take everything that comes their way, and many of them have acceptance numbers not that far different from what print publishers sign from agents. In that way, they only differ from traditional publication in that they are digital only (or digital first).
- Some e-publishers, as mentioned aren't as well-run. An author may only have cursory editing work done, the art department may not have any artistic ability, etc. And there are those that are nothing more than Vanity Presses in disguise.
- PoD: This actually has a couple of meanings in the industry.
- Print on Demand, is a model that a lot of e-publishers (and some traditional publishers as well) utilize for print books. Rather than printing massive amounts of stock and storing them, they print as books are ordered.
- Publish on Demand is also known as vanity publishing. This is the sort of self-publishing that tends to turn out those books that give all the others a bad name...but it also results in some legitimately worthy offerings as well. At this stage, it all depends on the author.
- Self-publishing: This is when everything except the actual printing of the book is in the author's hands. It is up to them whether or not to hire an editor (and what kind of quality they get). The same can be said for cover art and promotion. There are several ways to self-publish, and I don't know the ins and outs of them at all, so I'll leave that for someone who knows better than I to explain.
That's my breakdown as simply as I can put it. As I said, I don't write this to judge anyone's path, rather to illuminate those who may not know the difference between their options. Do you have opinions on what's out there? And did I miss anything important?