Monday, September 8, 2008

Control or Collaboration?

At Cumberland House we value our authors' vision and collaboration. As our business partners, we count on our authors to promote their books, so it is important to us that our authors are happy and proud of their books. That said, we are also making a financial investment in the development, design, marketing, and printing of our books and there are times when we have to do what we believe is best for the book, even if the author disagrees. That is what differentiates traditional publishing from the vanity press or self-publishing options.

Self-publishing is a great option for many authors today, especially those who need complete control over their title, design, format, schedule, etc. Many (most?) authors are very protective of their work, having spent years researching and writing and developing a vision for their book. And while most authors are experts in their subject, we are experts at book publishing. We make our living in a marketplace that changes every day. We know and play by the unwritten rules set by our customers. Our motives are sometimes more commercial than artistic or altruistic, but this is a business afterall.

When we issue a contract, we are purchasing the right to publish a work as we see fit in exchange for a percent of the revenue we generate through sales of the work. Those rights generally include the option to edit, title, design, package, and schedule the book in whatever way we believe to be in the best interest of our investment. We are not obligated to get an author's approval of the title or design or marketing plan, though we often solicit input and value the author's expert insight.

As I posted yesterday, getting a publishing contract is, perhaps, a greater accomplishment today than ever before. In addition to collaboration on the development of the book itself, we market a book well beyond what most self-published authors can do for themselves. And by "market" I don't mean advertising and publicity, I mean bringing your book to market. When you publish with us, your book will get presented, face to face, with buyers at the national chains and distributors, independent booksellers, dot-coms, book clubs, subsidiary and foreign rights agents, and others. And, we do it on a time table that maximizes the potential for success.

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