I also also offer consultation on publishing choices—traditional, hybrid, and self-publishing.
Traditional Publishing Model: In the traditional publishing model, an author must find and retain a book agent, create a book proposal, and then pitch the book to commercial publishing companies (which are almost all based in New York City, such as HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster). If the pitch is successful and they offer the author a deal, the publishing company purchases the ownership of the print license from the author in return for an advance on royalties (that the author does not have to pay back).
Ownership & Rights: The publishing company always owns the print license, the author always owns the copyright. All other rights (movie, excerpt, etc.) are negotiable.
Royalty Rate: 15% hardcover, 7.5% trade paperback, 5% mass market
Note: It’s very hard for a non-celebrity to get a literary agent or a deal. Even if you do, the process typically takes 18-36 months from start to finish, whereas self-or-hybrid publishing can produce a book in 6 months. In the end, you have no control over your book’s marketing or editorial content. There is limited financial upside.
Self-Publishing Model: The author retains complete ownership of their book and manages and controls the entire process. Self-publishing takes many different forms today, but at its core, the author is in full control of both editorial and marketing decisions. You hire the ghostwriter and a self-publishing firm that will provide you a design team and distribution outlet. In all aspects, the book is completely customizable and can be brought to the market quickly, in as little as six months. There is no acceptance needed, no advance, and the author retains all rights. This is the smart way to go.
Ownership & Rights: Author retains all rights.
Royalty Rate: Variable, usually between 70% and 100%, depending on sales channel.
Hybrid Publishing Model: Instead of a publishing company paying you, YOU HIRE a publishing company to produce your book. The ownership of rights varies depending on the company, but the basic idea is that Hybrid publishers give authors the illusion of status from being “picked” by a publisher. But they do not pay an advance. Instead, the author is obligated to pay themfor each service, which can be expensive. So for most authors, self-publishing is definitely the way to go!
Ownership & Rights: Variable
Royalty Rate: Variable, usually 15-25%, but can be as high as 50%