Traditional Publishing, Self-Publishing and Alternative Publishing Tips
Saturday, February 02, 2013
Janette Grant, Author
Looking outside of the box: publishing in the 21st century
Traditionally, the printing and distribution of books has been an exclusive enterprise reserved for those individuals who are either affiliated with or financially supported by large publishing houses, but the prominence of the World Wide Web and the ability to read materials upon portable electronic devices is revolutionizing the publishing industry. Writers and aspiring authors have access to a wealth of opportunities that were not available to them ten to fifteen years ago and the divide between publishers and writers is gradually shrinking. These changes require looking outside of the box when considering publishing prospects and can be divided into three major categories: traditional publishing, self-publishing and alternative publishing.
Authors who previously may not have had access to a literary agent or an inside line to the editor of a mainstream publishing company can now take advantage of the numerous alternatives available. Writers have easier access to mainstream publishers through websites, better access to literary agents through online resources and social networking groups, and then there are the various smaller publishers, blogs and private websites that allow writers to publish their work immediately online.
For aspiring writers interested in breaking into the mainstream world of publishing, the traditional route may be the best fit. Although traditional publishing can be very time consuming and is hit or miss at best, especially for new authors who have not been published and who do not have an agent behind them when submitting a manuscript, large publishers have access to the most resources for marketing and distributing written works and will often secure writers through writing contracts that stipulate profits and future projects. It can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to hear back from a publisher after an initial submission so a substantial time investment is necessary when considering this course. In addition, not all publishers accept un-solicited manuscripts and in those instances the writer must submit his or her work after securing a literary agent.
On the other hand, self-publishing can be a much faster process and can provide an author with more say in the creative and production process. A writer can publish their work independently through companies that provide fee based printing packages where a minimum number of books are required to be purchased or there are companies that will assist writers in the process of self-publishing for a consultative fee and provide support with marketing and distribution. There are still other companies that do not require any fees or initial purchases but where an author can upload his or her finished manuscript and receive assistance in designing a book cover.
Alternative publishing opportunities consist of providers that allow writers to post, publish and upload their work for free. Some of these sources pay their contributors for their work and these platforms allow aspiring writers to develop their craft while reaching a live audience full of potential readers. There is a small concern surrounding the issue of security and the possibility of another writer or publisher developing similar books or writing to those published, but most of these private companies provide terms of agreement and implement every manner of precaution available to them.
In summary, there is a wide array of opportunities for aspiring writers seeking to have their works published. Traditional publishing houses are trying to meet the demands of a growing technology-savvy readership that turn more quickly towards an iPad or smartphone when reading and as a result may be less likely to accept manuscripts from new writers for hard print, but such companies, Harper Collins for example, have developed resources where aspiring writers can explore the possibility of producing an e-book which can be used as a stepping stone into the industry. Publishers like Author Solutions, CreateSpace and Lulu are worth looking into for self-publishing opportunities and can make the process easy with minimal investment while alternative publishing platforms like Wattpad and Goodreads have more of a social networking component where authors can write and receive hands-on feedback from readers who can read their writing online; these types of enterprises are especially useful for new writers because readers can comment on the work, share the work with others and provide response directly to the author in real time. Interactive platforms allow authors to directly reach their readers while simultaneously building a strong fan base.
For more information, some useful links about traditional publishing, self-publishing and alternative publishing are provide below.
Unsolicited manuscript submissions:
Isahah Janette Grant currently resides in Missouri City, TX and is the author of the children's book, Sameerah's Hijab and the First Day of School. She is a founding member of Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), an internationally based collaboration of Muslim women writers and advocates working to counter negative and inaccurate perceptions of members of the Muslim community. Her published works include poetry that has been published in three anthology collections and articles that have been published in the Providence Journal Bulletin newspaper. She currently owns and runs Mindworks Publishing, a community based desktop publishing business, and is working on completing her first work of fiction. She studied at Boston University in Massachusetts majoring in Print Journalism and writes poetry in her free time.