There are so many avenues available now for authors to publish a book.
At the top of the list, of course, is traditional publishing with the five big publishers and their myriad of imprints, followed by medium and small press publishers.
Then there is a long list of hybrid publishers, micro-publishers, vanity publishers, and lastly, untrustworthy charlatans.
For a new author, it can be daunting to know which is the best avenue to take, especially for those not confident in taking the self-publishing route.
Your book publishing rights
Whenever an author considers using a publisher, the most critical element is making a decision will be concerning the author’s book rights.
Whether in part or total, a publishing house will always want all the rights to a book before they publish. It may include international markets and perhaps film and TV rights for the publishing work.
Generally, if a publisher is offering book advances, then it is logical to expect that an author would agree to sign over the rights to a book.
But advances are becoming a rarity in today’s publishing world, even for established traditionally published authors.
For new authors, the far more common occurrence is that a publishing company will demand the rights, but offer no money in return.
Due to a lack of financial resources, many small publishers ask for money from the author to cover a part or even all of the publishing costs. It is definitely a danger signal.
Signing up with a publisher is an exciting time for new authors.
But signing away the rights to your book without knowing how financially sound a publisher is, or checking on how successful they have been, can lead to serious problems down the track.
Almost every day, there is news of publishers going out of business, and this is when trouble can really strike.
If your publisher goes broke or is liquidated, getting your book rights back could take years, and that may even be optimistic.
Generally speaking, if you are asked to sign over the rights to your book by your literary agent or publisher, and there is an advance on offer, consider it carefully. It is about as good as it gets in publishing today.
If you are asked to sign over the rights and intellectual property for your book, and there is no advance offered to you, think carefully. But in the end, perhaps don’t do it.
If a publisher asks for your book rights and also asks YOU for money, definitely DO NOT do it.
If you are not sure about taking the self-published route, because you are not confident in the technical aspects of ebook and print on demand (POD) publishing or book promotion, think about investing in service providers who can do this for you.
Yes, it will cost a little bit of money, but you will keep your book rights and have total control over your book.
Learn to self-publish.
It will take some time, but in fact, once you gain a little knowledge, you will find out that self-publishing is very easy.
Whichever route you take as a new author, just remember one point.
Never give away your book rights for absolutely nothing in return.
More reading: Is This Publisher Legit? How You Can Make Your Decision