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What’s the most important ingredient in the recipe for book publishing success? There are many correct answers, including timing, marketing, and pricing. While all those factors fluctuate, one essential ingredient stays constant: Quality content. But in the evolving world of book publishing, authors need to know the best way to get that content to the right audience, be it through a publishing house or through self-publishing. eBook sales have been steady, and their success has encouraged independent authors to strike out on their own and retain more revenue per book.

Authors still want publishers

However, the possibilities offered by independent publishing haven’t completely changed authors’ feelings toward traditional publishers. In fact, the findings of the 2014 Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest Author Survey show that many authors would still prefer to go the traditional publishing route.

The survey of 9,210 writers revealed that only 7.5% of traditionally published authors would prefer to self-publish rather than traditionally publish, 10.1% of aspiring authors would rather self-publish, and just 35.1% of already self-published authors would go with self-publishing. Although many authors celebrate the growing popularity of self-publishing, it has not yet overtaken the lure of traditional publishing.

Even among self-published authors, almost 54% hoped to publish traditionally in the future. Despite the hype surrounding it, self-publishing has not matured enough yet to match the value that an established publisher brings to an author. Publishing, whether in print or electronic, is more than simply finishing a manuscript and making it available online.

Publishers offer value

The publishing process crosses many areas of expertise, including content development and editing, design and typesetting, printing and distribution, marketing, publicity, intellectual property protection, and bookkeeping. Most writers lack the depth of experience or knowledge in most or all of these arenas that a well-respected publisher provides.

Publishers not only offer strong editorial guidance during a title’s development but also the power to produce a work, market it, and distribute it. Production, marketing, and distribution is a complex process that involves many steps: Design, page layout, selection of print-run size and the best media, printing, conversion to eBook format, ordering, and physical and online fulfillment and distribution.

As self-publishing options continue to mature and proliferate, publishers can take steps to ensure they remain authors’ preferred method of publishing — for example, by offering authors marketing support and training, such as helping authors promote their titles by educating them in using social media and blogging. By capitalizing on their wide-reaching services and time-earned knowledge and experience, publishers can continue to make a strong case for their unique value to authors.


This article appeared in our March newsletter, FrontMatter, which can be accessed by clicking here.