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Casual Clayton

Everywhere you look these days you see debates about self-publishing versus traditional publishing. I’m here to give you the real scoop.

How can I say that? I’ve been self-publishing since 1993. These days I traditionally publish the works of others. From my perspective the two methods are virtually the same. The self-publisher is responsible for all costs: product development (writing the book or short story), start-up costs, material and book construction costs, paying for both cover design and editing (including proofing), printinng costs, marketing and sales costs and, perhaps most important of all, the development of a distribution system. The traditional publisher is responsible for everything mentioned above, except he or she buys the product rather than writing it.

But… is the difference mentioned above really what it appears to be? I say no. You see the time spent writing is a cost. Whether or not that time cost is greater than what the traditional publisher pays for it is a matter of how good you are in the arena of business.

So, what is all the hoopla about? It’s about the traditional publishers trying to maitain their control of their lines of business in the onslaught of self-publishers who can now have their books printed on demand (POD) and priced competatively with the traditional publishers. It’s also about the delution of quality. When everyone and their dog can print a book that looks exactly the same as a book printed by a traditional publisher, then quality of what goes in between those covers becomes an issue. And here we have a problem…

The traditional publisher used to have a ton of experience in comparison to the self-publisher. But with POD available, small, traditional publishers are poppin up like dandelions in the spring. If you can’t publish a book yourself, they’ll gladly do the job, and many don’t care about the quality of the end product. So now we have an onslaught of self-published authors and small traditional publishers. And they have flooded the market with books; some books are real gems, many are pure trash. The big traditional publishers are trying to maintain quality and pricing, but slowly, each of the big boys are opening POD branches, so they, too, can milk this sudden cash cow.

So, I ask you, with big publishers copying the strategies of the little publishers and self-publishers who have heartily embraced POD publishing, and the little guy tapping into the distribution systems of the big guy and also becoming astute enough to hire professionals to design and edit their books, is there really any difference?

No, there isn’t. Go with a traditional publisher you get royalties if you sell enough books (you thought the traditional publisher was going to market for you, eh?); go with the self-publishing option and you get a bigger slice of the pie and instantly, when a book is sold. You might just make more this way if you can build a distribution systm that will move your books. It’s a mighty big if, and it’s the big publishers not-so-secret weapon. They have huge distribution lines set up and managed with an iron fist. It may be the ony real difference between big publishing and small publishing.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know, I’m busy publishing other people in a horror anthology which can stand side to side with the best of them, and I’m working on publishing a book of my own, a Roger Ebert style collection of my 4 and 5 star book reviews from 2006 to 2012. Yes, I’m a professional book reviewer as well.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye

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