Traditional Publishing:

(Note: this output form is rarely available to mere mortals, especially during the current industry sunset. It is difficult to say how long this downturn will last; the publishing industry has been defying gravity for too long.)


COPYRIGHT: The author retains copyright but signs away publishing and subsidiary rights (for a limited period or perpetuity). (See Glossary.)

DISTRIBUTION: Publisher will use their established channels for distribution, wholesale and retail, which can be considerable.

ISBN AND CIP: For publishers, this is standard procedure; part of their admin. (See Glossary).

LITERARY PRIZES: Nominations from reputable publishers are better received. Critical acclaim and sales of translation rights are also more likely.

MARKETING: Traditional publishers' books often have a marketing budget. They take care of that side, but they will choose which book they want to promote. They can only push some titles, only a handful. Any book that does not survive six months on bookstore shelves will be remaindered. (Their marketing technique is like shooting crows: they fire a shot at the flock, and if one or two drop, that’s a success.)

NO UPFRONT COSTS: The author has no upfront costs. All expenses (design, editing, printing and marketing) will be met by the publisher, but the author loses almost all creative control (cover and maybe, even, title).

PRESTIGE AND VALIDATION: Many authors consider becoming a brand-name author the most important.

PROFESSIONAL BACKING: Traditional publishers will have an experienced team to ensure the finished product's quality.

PUBLISHING TECHNOLOGY: The author does not have to be concerned with this; everything will be under good care.

ROYALTIES: The author will be paid (usually promptly) around 8% to 12% of each book's selling price (RRP) as royalty.

SUBSIDIARY RIGHTS: Although authors surrender all rights (including e-books) to the publisher, they get a share of proceeds from any sell-on. Traditional publishers are in a much better position to exploit subsidiary rights than individual authors.


SLOW PROCESS: It could take years, and many rejections, before a manuscript is accepted and much more time after that for the book to be published.

REJECTIONS: The traditional publisher may not accept a manuscript for any number of reasons.

CREATIVE CONTROL: The author loses almost all creative control of the content.

ROYALTY: One of the loudest complaints is about how low royalty rates are compared to self-publishing. But publishers do take all the risks. They have invested in the author and expect some returns. More prominent self-publishing companies pay more but only a little more.

MARKETING: Increasingly, authors must promote their books even in traditional publishing.

AUTHOR COPIES: The author will receive only a few free copies but can buy more at a special author discount.



PAKKA Publishing Overview
PAKKA Publishing Solutions
Why Self-Publish
A Guide to Book Publishing
Traditional Publishing
Self-Publishing Online
DIY Publishing
The New PAKKA Solution


Writing Books
Writing Biographies
Write and Publish Poetry
Write a Selfhelp Book
PAKKA Ghostwriting


PAKKA Editing Services


Glossary of Publishing Terms

Photo: Old manuscript, medieval English.(Image from Pixabay.)