Bards Lost in The Metaverse Episode 22 - Show Notes Traditional Vs Self-publishing
In this episode Sharn and Andy discuss, compare and contrast the different worlds of Traditional Publishing and Self-publishing.
First up though was News with Sharn:
In the world of technology, the race to create the best AI chatbot is heating up. This week Microsoft announced the launch of a new Bing and Edge browser, both powered by an upgraded ChatGPT AI. This announcement came hot on the heels of Google’s announcement of their new Chatbot, Bard. Google suffered a setback though, with their parent company Alphabet suffering a 160 billion dollar loss in the days following the announcement. The reason for this loss? Bard answered a question about the James Webb telescope incorrectly during a demonstration. Industry experts believe that Google may have rushed the release of Bard in response to the launch of Microsoft and ChatGPT's new product. Stay tuned for more updates on the AI chatbot race as it is only just starting.
Jumping now to the world of publishing. In an announcement on 30th January 2023, the Australian Government declared it would increase support for reading, writers, and books as part of their new National Cultural Policy. Unveiled by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Arts Minister Tony Burke, the policy, titled “Revive: a place for every story, a story for every place”, is a five-year plan to renew and revive Australia's arts, entertainment and cultural sector, following the difficult COVID closure period that severely affected the sector. As part of this policy, the government is committing 19.3 million dollars in new funding through Writers Australia, with the aim of providing direct support for writers and publishers to expand both local and international audiences for Australian books. This initiative is expected to get underway in 2025. So if you are in the arts sector, check the policy out and stay tuned for updates.
Sharn and Andy then dived into the episode proper and kicked off with an overview of Traditional Publishing and Self-Publishing.
What is Traditional publishing
Traditional book publishing is when a publisher offers the author a contract and, in turn, prints, publishes, and sells your book through booksellers and other retailers. The publisher essentially buys the right to publish your book and pays you royalties from the sales.
If you want to publish a book traditionally, most writers need to find an agent. Getting an agent involves sending query letters to agents (which is often a cover letter and a book sample, but each will have their own submission requirements). Firstly you will need to identify the category for your writing and look for agents that align. Generally, for non-fiction, you will need to submit a book proposal with three sample chapters, and a synopsis of each chapter. For fiction, you must have your manuscript complete.
Some publishing houses hold open submissions for limited times throughout the year when authors can submit their works directly.
What is Self Publishing
There are actually multiple different streams of self publishing and different paths to take but before we dive into that, the overall difference is that: Self-publishing is the publication of media by its author at their own cost, without the involvement of a publisher.
Different types of self publishing:
Print-on-demand (POD) publishers accept all submissions; anyone who is willing to pay is published. POD publishing uses printing technology to produce books one at a time through a company at a cost-effective price. The books are printed individually as orders come in. Therefore, you can adjust the book's supply to meet the reader's demand. POD cuts back on costs and eliminates the need for space to store unsold copies. Typically editing, proofreading, or marketing is offered at an additional cost and you make money off of royalties from sales.
Vanity Publishing; also known as a book manufacturer, publishes anyone's work provided the author has the money to pay for their services. The manufacturer prints and binds a book on the author's dime and does not offer editing, marketing, or promotional assistance. However, the author owns the printed books and retains all profit from sales.
Self-publishing requires the author to invest their own money to produce, market, distribute, and warehouse the book. While this can be a huge time commitment, the process can be more cost-effective than vanity or subsidy publishing.
Hybrid Publishing is just a combination of the above.
What about Indie publishing?
Originally Indie publishing was the term used to describe publishing houses that were not part of the big 5. Think Indie films. But after the rise of amazon and kindle many indie publishing houses disappeared and now the terms indie author and self published author are interchangeable.
Self-publishing industry facts:
Currently the self-publishing industry is valued at around $1.25B in sales a year with 300M books being sold a year. (just over $4 a book).
Worth noting though that the global “book market is valued somewhere between $90-125B”.
30-34% of all ebooks sold are self-published.
Amazon pays $520 million in royalties to self-published authors each year.
Only 1% of audiobooks on Audible are self-published.
67% of top-rated, self-published books are written by women, compared to just 39% of traditionally published books.
The global publishing market is expected to grow at 1% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) per year, whereas the self-publishing market is expected to grow at 17%.
The number of self-published books has increased by 264% in the last five years.
Roughly half of all the bestselling books on kindle in the romance, sci-fi and fantasy genres are self-published. [NOTE: good for us because over half (56%) of best selling sci-fi books on Kindle are self-published).
Side Note: The latest growth in sales in the industry was through Manga followed by audio.
Next was a discussion of the pros and cons of each publishing method
The one key difference between Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing is:
If the author owns the rights and royalties, then the book is self-published. If the publishing company owns the rights and royalties, then the book is traditionally published.
Traditional Publishing Pros:
Print distribution in bookstores is easier.
Potential to become a brand-name author
Traditional Publishing Cons:
Hard to get into
Loss of Rights
Loss of creative control
Incredibly slow process
Unless you are one of their big names, you will still need to market your own books
Traditional Publishing also follows the market in terms of popular genres and may base their decision to sign an author on their profit potential rather than the book itself
Higher Earning Potential* (can earn more % per book, but you need to make the sales)
Total creative control over content and design
Longer Shelf Life
Sell by any means in any global market, as you retain the rights
Greater potential for different income streams
Lack of Support
Lack of Recognition
Lack of a Guarantee
Required Storage Room
It’s difficult to get print distribution in bookstores
Need to run your own business and do your own marketing
Need to understand and utilise technology, and be ready to change processes as tech changes
Sharn and Andy finished up with a chat about their thoughts on the two different publishing methods.
I am not against a hybrid model perhaps in the future. I would be happy to team up with a publishing house to market my book in foreign markets for example (Asia, South America, Europe etc) But I would need to see super high levels of cash to give away rights and creative control.
I like the idea of taking ownership and if something doesn't sell or isn't good that's my fault, but it also means i can fix it. Some marketing company in a building somewhere I have never met does not care as much about my baby (book) as much as I will.
There are pros and cons to both publishing methods. I’m not a hard-lined “never traditionally published” type girl, and if the right offer magically appeared, I would consider it, as having the support of huge multinational corporations would make a difference, as long as the deal was right. But, I mostly imagine I would stay in self-publishing as I love the tempo and the freedom of it (hello ability to make NFTs and any other product I want out of my book).
Why are we heading down the Indie path?
I think it's a really good introduction to the industry and allows me the freedom to do things in a way that suits my lifestyle and my “art/book”. I can release chapters a week at a time. Do audio podcasts at the same time and I can grow an audience all at once.
I think unless you already have an established personal brand Traditional publishing is not the place to start.
I like the creative freedom self-publishing brings. I can actually write what I want to write. I like being involved and having the success of my book on my shoulders, rather than having to wait and hope that other people will make it a success. I also like the chance to build a community of fans. Self-publishing feels like you get to be closer to your readers and involve them more in the story behind the book. I also get to be more experimental and creative with the products I make rather than locking myself into a contract.
Would we consider traditional publishing?
As I mentioned earlier, yes for foreign markets and one offs - Audible Originals or Nonfiction books.
Yes, if a deal came my way that was right and fit in with what I’m building and how I want my creative business life to be. I imagine I would always be at least hybrid though.
As always, we have a lot to do and a lot more to learn. Hope you all have fun following along as we improve our understanding and knowledge!
You can find this podcast episode (and all our other episodes) here: https://anchor.fm/invokecreations , or directly on your favourite streaming services.
NOTE: Everything discussed during the podcast is simply our own interpretation of information we come across as we research topics, or is commentary based on our own personal experiences. We highly encourage everyone to conduct their own research into topics of interest as information, especially in the technical space, changes regularly.
Music track featured this week was titled Ghostly Edge and can be viewed/listened to here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shxIFf_l8ak
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As always, we’re off to put our bums on seats and do some work, so until next time stay dangerous!