An Interview with Lisa Norman:
1) Lisa can you describe the general differences between a small independent publisher, one of the big six houses, and the self publishing option.
The difference comes down to who does what and how much control you have.When you sell to the big six, they do most of the production work and make most of the decisions. There are advantages and disadvantages with this. If you go this route, definitely have an agent working with you to ensure your interests are protected. It used to be that they did a bunch of marketing for you as well. This has dropped off over recent years with even solid mid-listers needing to do their own marketing. If the traditional industry sees you as an A-list author, they can get advertising in places you might not be able to access as an indie. You get less money from each individual sale, but you don’t have to pay for the production costs of the book and in some cases you get a small advance. (Note: that advance is intended to be spent on marketing expenses.)
Small independent publishers vary greatly. Please, use a lot of caution here. Just as you would have an agent in the traditional market to protect your interests, you want someone to review your contracts here as well. I’m very proud of my contract, because I worked with an attorney to make sure my authors were as heavily protected as I am. But that is not always the case. I’ve seen some real nightmare contracts. There are some fantastic indie publishers out there, but there are also sharks. Stories of authors losing rights and royalties are rampant. Research any publisher you go with.
The traditional “vanity” presses are still out there as well. You’d think the industry changes would’ve killed them, but it seems there are still authors willing to pay thousands of dollars for a garage full of print books and no distribution. Don’t do that!!! Do your research. Be clear on what the publisher is offering to do and what they expect you to do. Be clear on what rights they want and for how long. Review how much of a cut they’ll take for each book. Depending on your skill levels, this can be a good way to go.
Self-publishing is when you retain ALL of the control of the book. You make the decisions, you do the work — or hire it done. You get 100% of the royalties and you are responsible for 100% of the marketing. This can be daunting, but it can also be empowering. Depending on your professionalism and commitment to quality, this can be a very powerful way to go. Indie doesn’t mean alone. It means you choose which professionals help you and in what areas.
2) Are their advantages associated with each publishing alternative?