About the Episode
Traditional Publishing? Self-publishing? Hybrid Publishing? You have options, right? Today, Rachel is busting the myth that there are different paths or types of publishing.
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📒 Show Notes and Resources 📒
About the Episode:
00:00 Publishing Paths or Types Myth
01:04 The Only Publishing Path
05:03 Making a Decision
07:20 Self Publishing
09:32 Hybrid or Vanity Press Publishing
11:40 Independent Publishing
12:01 Traditional Publishing
15:54 Why Author Platforms are Vital (Book Marketing)
Click for Transcript
[00:00:00] We’ve all heard this idea that there are different types of publishing, different pathways a writer can go down to get their book out into the world. Well, I’m here today to tell you this is all a big myth and there’s really only one type of publishing.
Hi, my name is Rachel Fahrenbach. I help writers get their novels into the hands of a reader. Fun fact: I actually double majored in creative writing and business management, some years ago, I’m not gonna date myself. But some years ago I double majored and it, when I double majored in business, I had to take classes on operations and management and marketing and all those things. But it wasn’t until in the last couple years that I started learning this whole new world of online business because when I was college that was not a thing that was just beginning. It was like it was just getting off the ground. So in the last couple years, I’ve really dived into this idea, this concept [00:01:00] of online business and online marketing.
And I love it and I’m fascinated by it, but it was in that world of really learning about that, that I realized that this idea about multiple publishing types is actually a myth. And there’s really only one publishing type. And spoiler alert, it’s the same process that every business goes out there and does day in and day out. They start with a product, they develop it, and they get it to their customers. There’s no, it’s really no different in the publishing world. The thing that is the myth is who the publisher is. You are the publisher and the only type of publishing out there is you deciding to publish your novel. You are the one who publishes that product. You created it. You do the research. Research, you do the development of it, and then you decide to manufacture and distribute it.
And that’s where [00:02:00] things that we call types of publishing come into play. But it’s important that you know that at the beginning of it all, you are the publisher.
And the only difference between these different types that we’re talking about today is how much creative control and profit you decide to let go of in, in exchange for the services that the contractor that you decide to use.
In such case, it could be a publishing house. In other cases it could be a hybrid. In other cases, it could be a freelancer that you hire. Whatever it is, you decide how much creative control, how much profit you give up in exchange for the services that that contractor renders.
It is no different than any other business out there and the. And it’s important that you understand this, that at the beginning of this whole thing, when you get this idea for this product, for this novel, and you decide that it needs to get into the hands of your customer, your reader, you take [00:03:00] on the publishing role. You are the publisher, you are the one who has decided there’s a product that needs to get to the author or wait, you, you are the one who decided there’s a product that needs to get to the reader. The reader has a need. You have a product that’s gonna fill that need, and you need to figure out how to get it to them. You are the publisher, you are the business owner. You have all control at the beginning stage your job. At this point when we start talking about getting published, your job is to figure out how to get that novel manufactured and distributed.
That’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about different types of publishing. They’re not really different types of publishing, they’re different options that you, the publisher have to manufacture and distribute your product, and this becomes really important because like I said, the only difference between these is how much creative control and profit you decide to give [00:04:00] up.
Now, before we go any further, and I am going to dive into each one of these that we typically think of as a type of publication or type of publishing, I really wanna show you how this is actually just all the same process, they just fit into the manufacturing and distribution side of things.
We’re gonna go into each one of those. But here’s the thing I really want you to understand. You have the control. You are the publisher. That is the same no matter what you choose to do. And I want you to know that whatever you decide to do for your product is your decision. And whatever you choose to do is a good decision for you have to make that decision. Nobody can tell you what the best decision is for you. But my goal here with this podcast episode, with this moment in time when I’m talking to you, is to give you a good understanding of what it is that you’re about to [00:05:00] enter into, to give you a good understanding of how it all works.
Please hear me. I am not saying that one is better than the other. I am just saying, please be aware of what this actually means when you choose to go with a traditional publisher, when you choose to go with a self-publishing route, when you choose to go the hybrid route, when you choose to go the indie route, when you choose those options as your manufacturing and distribution options. Now, so often we make these decisions for publication with our hearts because we are writers and we have these ideas in our head, and it’s a creative process, and it feels like this thing that’s out there that we have to protect and honor, and it’s sacred and it is all those things.
But at this point in the game, when you get to this point where you’re like, I need to get this publish. You are no longer making an artistic decision that happened when you decided what this idea for this product was that happened when you decided, you plotted [00:06:00] out your novel, you developed your characters, you titled it, you delved into it, you made sure, you revised it, you poured over it, all those things, that was your creative decision making process.
You are now in a stage of business making decisions, and as such, you need to have your business hat on when you are listening to your options out there. You are the publisher making these decisions and you need to be aware of that. Okay, now that I’ve preached at you for a few seconds there, let’s kind of pull back the layers on these different types of publishing.
So-called, So-called types of publishing. Let’s pull back the layer, like pull back the curtain a little bit and put it, plug it into this process. Now remember I’m saying that there is only one type of publishing. You publishing your novel just as there’s only one type of business process, a business, developing a product for a customer and figuring out how to manufacture and distribute that product to the [00:07:00] customer.
It’s the same thing. That is what you are in. I’m not saying that the type of publishing is self-publishing. I wanna make that clear. What I am saying to you is that the only type of publishing out there is you creating a product for a consumer and trying to figure out how to manufacture and distribute that product.
So let’s, let’s kind of go into what each of these would be, you know, where they fit in the publishing process. And let’s start with self-publishing, because I think this will kind of help you see as we go through the different ones. If we start with self-publishing. If you decide to continue to be the publisher, that’s what self-publishing is, you decide to continue to be the publisher. If you decide to go this route, you’re gonna have to pay manufacturing costs out of pocket.
You’re gonna have to pay for editing services, cover design, layout, and yeah, all of that. You’re gonna have to pay for those. You’re gonna find contractors, freelancers that you contract to do those services, and you’re just gonna pay them for the services that they rendered.[00:08:00] Then you’re either gonna pay upfront for the print cost of the books by ordering a bulk order of books through either like a print shop or Lulu or you’re going to defer the cost of printing as part of like a revenue share. And what I mean by that is by using something like a print on demand, like Amazon KDP. When a book is sold, Amazon takes a per a portion of to cover print costs for that book. But you’re not charged for that front because it’s a print on demand. Those books are not printed until somebody buys it, and that’s why the cost of that printing is taken out of the revenue of the book.
You also take on the distribution yourself at in-person, online orders fulfillment through your website, or you can use a distributor and pay them a percentage of the book revenue. So that’s like what Amazon does. They take a portion for distributing the book everywhere. After the manufacturing and [00:09:00] distribution costs, you retain all the rest of the revenue. This is what’s considered profit, and you also retain any decision making. Going further, you could change the cover if you wanted to. You could change how you decide to distribute it. You could change how you decide to print it. You can change if you wanna continue making that book or not, you could decide to make different versions of it. You could decide to revise it. You are in full creative control and you get to decide whatever is best for you, your product, and your reader. So that’s what happens when you decide to continue as the publisher.
Now you can decide to continue as a publisher to a degree and contract services with a hybrid publisher. Now this varies from hybrid to hybrid whether, like to what degree do you maintain rights some hybrids take rights they buy rights from you for the book. Some allow you to retain the rights to your book. So it really just depends. And that’s why it’s called Hybrid Publishing because it’s kind of a mixture. It’s also [00:10:00] called Vanity press publishing, if you’ve heard that term before. But the idea is that you are giving up some creative control and you are paying some of the manufacturing services upfront, that editing services, the cover design, all of that layout, you are paying for some of that. Some hybrids may have you pay upfront for the print costs. Some of them may do what Amazon does as like a print on demand. So it just all depends on the hybrid. Oftentimes with a hybrid, their name is what’s put on the spine as the publisher, not yours. So you are, um, not really considered the publisher. They are. So it’s, it’s kind of just depends on the hybrid as to what degree you continue being the publisher. To what degree you continue to be in control and to what degree you decide to share the profit with them. You often retain the final decision making when you work with a hybrid. Not [00:11:00] always. Like I said, it really depends on the hybrid you’re working with. That’s what happens when you choose as the publisher to work with a hybrid. You’re contracting out services with them. You’re paying them up front for services. They’re rendering, you are agreeing to give up some kind of control and allowing them to put their name on the book. Sometimes, sometimes they’ll require you to order author copies and other have other requirements. So it just really depends on the hybrid, which is why you really need to make sure that you understand what kind of contract you’re getting into with them.
And then finally we have traditional publishing, which is what most people think of when they think of publishing.
I wanna mention here that sometimes people use the term independent publishing and often that either means they’re talking about like a smaller, traditional publisher than independent of the Big 5 or independent of like publishing houses that have multiple imprints, or they’re talking about being an indie publisher or an indie author, [00:12:00] which means they’re self-publishing.
So it just really depends. But as far as traditional publishing goes, so with self-publishing, you decide to continue being the publisher and you contract out services, but you retain full rights to everything. Full creative control, full revenue. Profit all goes into your pocket with the hybrid. You give up some cont creative control. You give up some of the revenue and you prepay, you contract them for some services, but you have that option happening.
With the traditional publisher. You swap places. It’s really that simple. You decide, I am no longer the publisher. I’m gonna become the contractor. And this can be most seen in the fact that writers have to create a book proposal.
They have to essentially create a bid. They have to prove the marketing validity and quality of their product so that the publishing house will contract with them in order to produce their book. So you have essentially [00:13:00] swapped places with the publishing house as the publisher. So remember, you start out being the publisher, and when you decide to go the traditional route. You swap places and now you’ve become a contractor. You have to prove your worth. You have to prove that you have an a valid product and you give all creative control over to them. You give all profit over to them and they distribute a royalty to you. They share a small part of the profit with you, typically between 10 to 20% and you no longer have claim to that product. So essentially they buy rights to your product for a portion of the revenue.
So you might be a little confused because there’s such a thing as like advances and royalties and all that. And you might be like, well, how does that all factor in? An advance is simply a prepayment on the royalties they think that you’ll earn on this product. So if they’re saying you’re gonna earn 10% on this X money copies over the lifetime of the book, this is how many we [00:14:00] think it’s gonna sell, this is your, um, percentage of revenue off of each book that’s sold. We think it’s gonna be about this. We’re just gonna prepay that to you upfront. And so they’re not really paying you for the product. They’re just pre-giving you what they think you’re gonna earn in revenue. That 10 to 20% that we were talking about, that’s your royalty. So remember, when a book comes in, the revenue gets divided between the publishing house and all their overhead costs, salaries, all of that, all their costs to do business. It gets divided to the manufacturing and distribution cost, and then it goes to your literary agent and then it goes to you. Those are kind of the major areas the revenue from a book, it gets distributed, like gets divided amongst. That’s why you get that 10 to 20% that royalty.
So once again, when you decide to self-publish, you’re saying, I’m the publisher, I’m going remain the publisher and contract out services.
When you hybrid publish, you [00:15:00] say, I’m the publisher, I’m gonna kind of give up some of that creative control and some of that revenue to another publisher and pay them for some services so that my book can, and so that I can utilize their services that they offer. That’s what you do with hybrid.
For traditional, you’re saying, I no longer wanna be the publisher. I’m going to contract out to this publishing house, and they’re going to gimme a small portion of the revenue in exchange for my book.
I hope you’re beginning to see how you are actually the publisher, that there’s really only one way for this to happen. You create the product and you have to get it into the hands of your reader. You are the publisher there’s only one type of publishing. You getting your book to your reader now how you decide to manufacture and distribute it. That is your business decision as to how much creative control and revenue you want to maintain.
Now, I do wanna circle back because when I was telling you the different areas of business [00:16:00] I studied when I was majoring in business, I had mentioned marketing, and this comes up a lot because. More often than not, when writers get to that marketing side of things, they expect the publishing house, whether that’s a traditional publisher or a hybrid to do the majority of the marketing work. And this is not actually true. It’s very rare for writers to get a full marketing support from the publisher they’re working with.
So how it works in each of the different types of publishing, we’ll call it, we’ll keep using that term, with self-publishing remember you’re the publisher and you’re contracting out services and maintaining the revenue. Now you could choose to contract out the marketing, or you may continue to do lean on the author platform that you’ve already done and already been building, and you really lean into that and do that in-house.
Or you could go with your hybrid. Sometimes hybrid publishers will provide some marketing support. That’s something you can contract with them. So look into that, see if that’s something they offer. If not, you’re gonna have to still, once [00:17:00] again, rely on that author platform to help you get the word out about your book.
With the traditional publisher, same thing. Sometimes they give you marketing support, the majority of time they don’t.
It’s very rare to get like a big marketing package from them. A lot of marketing support. So once again, you have to do the legwork. You have to be building that author platform and you’re gonna have to rely on that, once that book out, to really lean into those readers that are already there, ready for your book to help you with word of mouth marketing to tell others about your book, which is why you can’t wait.
You can’t wait. No matter which type of manufacturing and distribution you decide to go with, whether it’s traditional, hybrid, or self, it does not matter. You still need to build that author platform. You need to get readers ready for when you publish your book.
So, I know that probably sounds overwhelming. It probably sounds like just something that just feels like the the monstrous task that you don’t know how to happen. [00:18:00] Between the timing of it all, the content of it all, you don’t know how to make it happen, which is why I created a resource for you called the Write & Rally Planner. It’s meant to help you protect your writing time while building your author platform, while railing that reader, having that reader there ready to go for when your book releases so that they can help you with word of mouth marketing because we know the number one type of marketing out there is word of mouth. And so we wanna have those readers ready to go for when our book releases. And so that’s why I created that resource for you. And you can get your copy at rachelfahrenbach.com/planner.
I hope today’s episode was eye-opening for you. I hope it was empowering to know that you are the publisher. You are the one in control. You get to decide, you are part of this publishing process from the very beginning. You’re not getting published. You are publishing. And I hope that. You leave here today, understanding that and [00:19:00] embracing that fully so that you can make the best business decision for you, your product, and your reader.
So I hope this has really helped you embrace that concept and hey, if you have a friend who is another fiction writer and you’re like, this would totally help them out too, would you just mind sending it along to them, telling them, Hey, take a listen so that you can understand how this business decision works, how they’re the publisher of their book and they get to make those business decisions for them, their product and their reader. Would you mind doing that for me? I would really appreciate it. And I hope you join me back here next week as we continue this conversation on the business of Christian fiction. Have a great day. Bye.
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Hey! I'm Rachel and I'm so glad you're here today!
I help Christian fiction writers figure out how they can make an impact and an income from their storytelling while keeping rest a priority.
You can learn more about how I’m in your corner here.
And you can learn more about my personal journey here.
One last thing, if you’re looking for a bit more rest in your life, be sure to check out the Rest & Reflect guided journal.