I just finished having a meeting with the publishing house Shadow Mountain, an imprint of Deseret Book. Like most publishing houses, they are slow, but when it comes to traditional publishing that is the name of the game. The meeting was awesome, they are sold on my concept and they love the product I have put together. They had a lot of critiques for me as well, and it made me think a lot about a big question people have asked me lately:
Are you going through a traditional publishing house, or self-publishing?
Now I know that self-publishing has made some great strides in recent years, and that many authors have made a lot of money through self-publishing, but that is the exception certainly not the rule. Here is my list of reasons why going the traditional publishing route (especially for the first book) makes so much sense.
1. Validation– publishers validate the quality of your manuscript. They get thousands of submission, and if they pick yours- it must be good- or at least significantly better than a lot of the junk they receive. By publishing it, they also send a message that THEY believe it is good. Its as if the book has already passed the “peer review” step.
2. Experience– publishers have a full team of editors, copy experts, and business people. These people can sift through your manuscript taking out all the typos, and making sure it is ready for the big time. They don’t charge you for this either, so that means no out of pocket for you.
3. Publicity– well let’s assume your book is GOOD. If the book really resonates with people, then you need to get the word our. A NYC publicist will charge $20,000 to publicize your book. A good publishing house however has their own in-house publicists. Again, no out of pocket, and it is in their best interest to get as much publicity for the book as possible. (I have read many articles claiming Publishers won’t promote your book unless you are a big name, but that doesn’t make sense- publishers run a business, and for the business to be profitable your book needs to do well.)
4. Money– unless you are Malcom Gladwell or Stephen King, you won’t make a ton of money on book sales. A book is more of a stepping stone to bigger and better things. It gives you success that you can leverage into more books, speaking engagements, and whatever else you can dream up. Well known authors can make from $5,000 to $50,000 a pop for a 1-hour keynote address. The Today Show, Oprah, Dr. Phil, and CNN won’t take you seriously if your book is self-published, and that is the type of fame that can turn into something big.
Now going through a traditional publishing house may not make sense for everyone, but it has some huge advantages. For authors and agents that have tried both, I would love to hear your opinions.
Friday night I got my first positive feedback from a publisher. They sent an email asking if my manuscript is still available for purchase.
Here is an excerpt from the email:
“I love the concept, I love the stories, and I love the potential this [book] has to create life-changing behavior.”
(Yes! this made me so happy to hear. My brothers and friends told me they liked my idea, but it was very validating to hear positive feedback from an actual publisher.)
Here is how it all started. Back in December a friend introduced me to a buyer at Deseret Book, a publisher, located in Salt Lake City, Utah. I called to ask if they could recommend a good editor for me to hire. After I explained my concept, they told me not to hire an editor, but instead to just submit a few sample chapters to them because they might be interested in publishing the book with their Shadow Mountain imprint.
I was pretty excited until I got a form email back saying, “Your manuscript has been entered into our database and we will read it in the next 2 to 3 months.” This was pretty discouraging to me at the time, so I just kept working on my manuscript and submitting it to other publishers.
Then late Friday night I got the first email response, and it was very positive. I am stoked about this, but there are a few questions that remain-
Should I continue to submit to other publishers? OR Do I take this and run with it?