Independent vs. Industry Publishing

Comments: 2

I received a question yesterday from one of my many followers (all 2 or 3 of you), Chas Hathaway. If I understand his question correctly, I'll attempt to address it. Here's the question:
I've heard that it's a good time to get into the independent publishing market.

Is that true? If so, what are the biggest differences between independent and industry publishing?
He was responding to my comment that for the time being, due to the economic downturn in the publishing industry I'm not sending out any more query letters.

Let me answer by first defining what I think he means by "independent publishers" and "industry publishers."

The way I understand independent publishers is that they are those companies that will publish almost anything you want published, but they do it for a fee. Sometimes, they are called vanity presses. It's great for publishing a limited number of works such as family histories, recipes for a church organization, or even a novel if you don't intend to make any money from the sales. Certainly, there have been some notable exceptions, but they are few and far in between.

Industry publishers, on the other hand, only publish writings such as non-fiction books and novels that meet their company's standards. Often, with large publishing houses, you need an agent to approach these companies. These companies usually pay an advance against royalties, plus when the advance pays out, they will continue to pay royalties as long as the book is in print and still selling.

Keep in mind, that to a serious writer, the money should ALWAYS go TO the author, never the other way around. If a writer doesn't care about the money, then the independent publisher may be the way to go. On the other hand, if a writer expects to sell his book and earn money from his writing, then the industry publishers are the way to go.

Keep in mind, however, that the book needs to be up to the industry publisher's standards. I go by the mantra: "if it isn't good enough to be published by a reputable "industry" publisher, it probably isn't good enough." That means, if they won't buy it, I need to either work to improve it, or start something new.

I hope this answers Chas's question, and questions regarding this subject anyone else might have.

Keep writing and reading.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Tuesday, March 24, 2009

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  1. Paul, that's exactly what I was wondering. Thanks for such a great response!

    - Chas