Home Forums Writer’s FAQ Thoughts on Partnered Publishing?

This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Jennifer Lancaster 4 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #24417

    Kieran Tyers
    Participant

    I have recently been looking into the option of partnered publishing for a picture book, for instance that offered by Little Steps Publishing. I was wondering what the pros and cons of partnered publishing are.

    Would having one book published in this way be helpful in breaking into traditional publishing for future books? How likely would I be to make a profit (or at least break even) this way?

    Cheers,
    ktyers

    #24445

    Peter M. Ball
    Keymaster

    Hi Kieran,

    Okay, this is a big one.

    The business models for traditional publishing and independent publishing are very, very different beasts. While people do sell independently published work into traditional publishing when a self-published work is successful, it’s still very much an outlier. Taking this approach as a means of breaking into the traditional side of things isn’t the strongest approach, and could actually affect the ability to sell the book to a traditional market if sales haven’t been strong.

    The reason I use indie-publishing here, rather than partnered publishing, is because most partnered publishing models are usually predicated on the same approach that independent publishers use. The writer does a certain amount of the production work themselves, then outsource (and pay upfront) for every step after the initial drafting of the work. Partnered Publishers are simply taking on every aspect of the production process, rather than certain aspects of it.

    This is the same deal that writers make with traditional publishers, but the trade-off there is that the traditional publisher has a significant finance stake in the book’s success in the form of the writers advance and the production costs. When you’re paying for all those yourself, the onus is on you to make the book a success.

    The initial appeal with self-publishing is often based on the assumption that producing the book is the tricky part of the business model. It’s not – the biggest barrier most independently produced works run into is one of distribution and awareness of the books existence. It’s one of the reasons self-publishing underwent such a renaissance when the kindle appeared – while book stores were often reluctant to stock self-published work, due to limited space and demand, the electronic model allowed for a distribution system where the cost of storage wasn’t an issue and all titles could be kept “in stock” in perpetuity.

    There are people who make a great return on their investment as indies, but they generally treat it with the same approach as any other person looking to launch a small business. They are clear on their business models, potential return on investment, and the costs they’re willing to deal with. Often, they are in it for the long haul, as much of the advice for indie authors relies heavily on having a deep back list of books to sell as new readers find their work. They leverage the strengths of the independent approach, and generally have plans for finding their readers in place.

    There are people who have great experiences with partnered publishers offering a full suite of services, and there are people who find the experience painful and costly. This is definitely one of those situations where we’d recommend shopping around, doing some research into the approach various people have used, and making yourself very familiar with the advice about self-publishing, subsidy publishing, and writer’s services on the Writers Beware site so you’re going in with your eyes open.

    Similarly, apply all the advice mentioned in our Beginners Guide to Commercial Services before signing up any service. You’re about to make a big business decision – it’s worth treating it as such.

    #24446

    Peter M. Ball
    Keymaster

    Also, as a follow-up: Jane Friedman’s infographic on the Five Key Book Pathways has some interesting breakdowns on the advantages and drawbacks of various approaches to publishing, including partnered publishing (labelled as Fully Assisted)

    #24654

    Kieran Tyers
    Participant

    Thanks for the replies Peter.

    So it is no better than indie publishing in terms of building a publication history?

    #24760

    Peter M. Ball
    Keymaster

    Not in most instances, no.

    #35048

    Jennifer Lancaster
    Participant

    Another thought on this, in conjunction with Peter’s advice, is you can build your own publishing brand. If you don’t have the skills in some fields fair enough, link up with some freelance editors and book designers. You also need to be quite visible on social media (take photos with books) and on your blog. This is all good foundation work for publishing in any way. You can learn a lot about this through Michael Hyatt (see Youtube), who wrote “Platform: Get noticed in a noisy world”. I do it, so why can’t you.

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