Is there any reason to publish with a legacy publisher anymore? Why not just self-publish and keep more money?
Most of my clients are mid-career businesspeople who write a book to improve their reputation, fees, and business results. Most of them self-publish for the additional control and to get to market faster. But there are many reasons why legacy publishers might be a good choice for them and for you.
You’ll hear three common reasons why legacy publishers make a better choice. Only two of them make sense. But, before we get to them, let’s consider the “more money” question.
Will You Really Keep More Money If You Self-Publish?
Many people look at the low royalty rates that legacy publishers pay and compare that with the profit per book they could make as a self-publisher. They conclude that self-publishing is a better economic choice. They’re probably wrong.
Most books don’t make money. Most business books don’t make money. The people who write business books generally aren’t writing them to make money from a book, so that’s okay. They want other good things to happen. They want to be able to increase their fees, sell more products, or go out on the speaking circuit.
The people who do make consistent money from self-publishing write genre fiction. They don’t make money by self-publishing individual books. Most of them publish several books in a series. That’s a profitable strategy because genre fiction readers tend to “binge read” books by a newly discovered author. Additionally, an awful lot of genre fiction is only sold in digital form. That means the costs to publish are lower than they would be for physical books.
If you’re a business author, you probably won’t be writing a book to make money from the book. So, what are my three reasons to choose a legacy publisher?
When I started out as a writer, there really weren’t any self-publishers. I became aware of the first ones in the early 1980s. In those long-ago times, there weren’t many options to do quality work.
The result was that most self-published books didn’t look or read like books from legacy publishers. Legacy publishers had vetting processes and publishing processes that turned out a far better product. In those days, getting your book published by a major publisher was a big deal.
Today, if you do a quality book, people will buy it. You can’t do a book that screams “Self-Publishing amateur!” but otherwise, people will probably not check the publisher to see if the book is good quality.
Bottom line. Today you get prestige based on your reputation and the quality of your book.
This is one of the biggest advantages of going with a legacy publisher. Instead of being out-of-pocket for publishing costs, the publisher pays you. Wow! What a concept.
So, you save money on publishing activities. That gives you money to spend on other things. You can use it to develop additional products to sell with the book. You can make sure that your book website looks really, really, really good. You can hire a publicist.
Bottom line. If you go with a legacy publisher, the publisher pays you. You can use that money to do other good things.
You’ve Got One Job
If you go with a legacy publisher, the publisher does all the publishing stuff. That offers two benefits for you.
You don’t have to make decisions about things where you have no expertise. If you’re the publisher, you’ve got to choose editors and cover designers and interior designers. You’ve got to make choices about all the design features of the book. You must hire editors to do the editing work and make sure they do what you want. Those are all probably things you’ve never had to do before and don’t know much about.
The big benefit for going with a legacy publisher is that all you have to spend time on is writing the book. Let your publisher worry about the other stuff while you write the best book you can.
Bottom line. You can just write, baby.
A Word of Caution
You and your agent will probably spend a lot of time and sweat getting a publisher to agree to your book’s concept. It’s easy to assume that that’s the goal. That’s necessary, but it shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be to get a good book contract.
Before you sign that contract, make sure you have a fit with the publisher. Talk to some of the authors who’ve published with them and ask about the working relationship. Ask what you should watch out for and what you can expect.
The tough part here is having a mind meld on the concept for your book.
Legacy publishers are a good choice for many business authors.
Legacy publishers don’t necessarily offer a prestige advantage.
Legacy publishers pay you.
You can use the cash you save on publishing costs to do other good things.
With a legacy publisher your job is to write the book. That’s it.
Check out a publisher before you sign a contract.