How Independent Publishing Works and What It Costs
How do you get a book published through an online publisher?
What does such a publisher actually do with your work?
Many writers are ready to publish and then run into the practical brick wall of what to do next. Traditional publishers are glutted with work - they only produce so many books a year and are usually booked up years in advance, even if you can get them interested in your work. If you want to get published right way, if you have run out of patience with the world and want your book out there as quickly as possible, you will need to go elsewhere.
Fortunately for you, we are in the Golden Age of Independent Publishing. Thousands of websites exist which promise to publish your work for you for a fee. Others (like Clarendon House) operate along traditional lines and do NOT charge a fee. Some independents more reliable and easier to work with than others. But at the end of the day, they all do much the same thing with your precious manuscript.
To give you more of an idea how the publication process works at Clarendon House Publications, here are the step-by-step actions. Clarendon House has some unique features as a publisher, as you will see. If I accept your work for publication, I do the following:
1. My recommendation is that, prior to sending it anywhere, you have your manuscript professionally proofread - if this has not been done, you could avail yourself of my proofreading services, which are usually much cheaper than the going rate. I can also edit the work for you if needed. But if I accept the work, I will do these things for no fee, as part of the publication process.
What’s the difference between proofreading and editing? Proofreading looks for and corrects any errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation and clarity; editing recommends changes in structure, tone and style. While proofreading can be done relatively cheaply, good editing is normally a collaborative process which involves working closely with you to make sure that your voice and message are strengthen and reinforced - which makes it a bit more expensive usually.
My editing approach basically applies the fundamental laws of fiction to your work, assessing its approach to character and plot, its style, its message and whether or not it is totally effective in what it sets out to achieve. No one else in the world can offer this particular service (which makes it a little more expensive if paid for separately). Generally, though, if I have accepted a book for publication, it is because I consider that these fundamentals are already sufficiently in place. In that case. I tend to make almost no editing changes but only work to strengthen and clarify your book's voice and message as needed.
2. Having ensured that the work has been properly proofread and edited as above, I would then format the work for publication - making sure that the pages are in the right order, chapters begin on the right hand page, correct page sizes, correct page numbering and fonts etc. This is laborious work but rather simple. Clarendon House usually does formatting as part of its editing service.
3. If needed, I would suggest some cover designs and then design and finalise the one you liked the most. This includes the 'blurb' on the back cover (which is NOT a story summary but effectively part of a sales process). If paid for separately, good cover design starts from about £500 per cover, though of course it depends on want you want, where you go and who you hire.
4. I would then 'walk the book through' the publication process and acquire a proof copy for you and I to check. This a 'hard copy' (though the book itself is usually a paperback) on which you and I would both make written notes if we see anything that needs changing.
5. I would then take the proof copy and correct the publishable manuscript based on those notes.
Some online publishers charge separately for these parts of the process, but I would normally include them as part of the process of publishing.
6. The book would then be published. You would then be able to order more copies if you wish.
7. I would take steps to place the book on Amazon in every possible country, and possibly other sites, as both paperback and Kindle versions. Once the book is available internationally, the publishing process ends, but the marketing process has not really begun. We could discuss that when we get to that point.
At all times, all copyright to your book would remain with you.
All of the above may take an independent publisher a few months, back and forth, as you can probably now appreciate. Clarendon House takes a few weeks. The commercial value of these services is in the region of thousands of pounds, depending on the size of the manuscript.
The marketplace has changed. Instead of vast numbers of authors trying to get published through a few dozen traditional publishers, writers are now paying to make their books accessible to the general public (which is what publishing is all about, at the end of the day). The internet has changed and is changing everything. The traditional publishing houses did not charge a fee to publish a work, that’s true - but they doled out pitifully low royalties on each copy sold and owned the book and the copyright to it; good independent publishers charge fees up front, but empower the writer to charge whatever he or she thinks that marketplace will take, and make no attempt to own the book or its copyright. Clarendon House uses a traditional model, but tries to maximise the returns for you.
In this changing world, the author is placed at the cause point.