Many an author and aspiring author has asked themselves whether they should put all their efforts into securing a conventional book deal from a traditional publisher, or whether they should proceed with the self-publishing process. But what if it’s not a question of self-publishing versus traditional publishing? What if it’s a question of both? Finding a literary agent is not easy; you have to research literary agents, write a synopsis of your book, write a query letter, and send in your submission package to the literary agent.
And after all that, there’s no guarantee a literary agent will even take a serious look at your submission package. But what if you’ve already established some success for your book through self-publishing? Now, that’s a different story. This article will look at some of the reasons to publish a book traditionally after self-publishing it, when to seek out a publishing house after self-publishing, and some steps to transition from self-publishing to traditional publishing.
Authors often spend weeks, if not months, fretting over whether they should self-publish their book or try to secure a traditional book deal. If an author has finally made the decision to self-publish a book and gone through with it, why should they then be thinking about traditional book publishing?
Yes, you can pursue the traditional publishing route even after self-publishing. And it’s not all that rare of a process, either. There are several great reasons to consider self-publishing a book. One big reason for a lot of writers is simply that it’s their only option. Comparatively few people who set out to write end up with a traditionally published book. You must accept that authors who finish their work do it primarily to satisfy their own creative passions.
But even if you try unsuccessfully to secure a traditional book deal and then opt to become a self-published author, this is not the end of your dreams to become a (traditionally) published author. Many books began their lives as self-published works and after having garnered success in that realm, graduated to a traditional book deal.
There’s no rule that states every book must or should secure a traditional publishing deal. Many authors are perfectly happy using self-publishing platforms. Perhaps you simply wanted to share your expertise on a niche topic with the relatively few people out there who would want to read a book on said topic. Or maybe you just wanted to write a novel for the sake of writing a novel and enjoy the journey, not the destination.
The publishing industry is tough, but your book will almost certainly reach more people if it is published by a big publisher. Furthermore, it’s less common for self-published books make any significant money. If you want as many people to enjoy your work as possible, or if you want to see if you can actually make some money for all your trouble, then you want to be a traditionally published author. If you want to reach as many eyeballs as possible or to achieve a high number of book sales, then it makes sense to pursue a traditional publishing contract even after you’ve gone the self-publishing route.
Many authors feel like they can’t get their foot in the door with a traditional publisher without having a literary agent. And, as mentioned above, getting a literary agent is not always easy. However, it will be easier to get a traditional book deal with a literary agent on your side, and it will be easier to achieve that if you can demonstrate a modicum of demand for your work.
This means your self-published book needs to look professional. And self-publishing is rarely cheap. However, if you’re serious about your long-term goal of securing a mainstream publisher, it’s worth it. One expense that’s highly advisable is hiring a book editor before you approach a literary agent or publishing company.
As mentioned , it’s often a good idea to secure a traditional book deal after self-publishing a book. There are a couple of good reasons for doing this, but ultimately it boils down to this: a self-published book is often more appealing to a literary agent or even a traditional publisher because they have a better idea of the potential for success with your book, and because some of the initial hard work is already done.
Yes, they might! Many writers who seek out a publishing house for a traditional book deal after already self-publishing their book had also tried contacting big publishers before they self-published. They just couldn’t secure a traditional publishing deal then. But if your goal is a traditionally published book, it makes no sense to give up. The publishing industry is full of gambles, but if you can demonstrate there is a demand for your book via self-publishing and, perhaps more importantly, that you’re serious about your writing goals, literary agents, small publishers, and big publishers alike will be more inclined to give your book serious consideration.
Some self-published authors don’t see the value in giving a traditional publisher a cut of their revenue, and that’s fair enough. But while you should never let pessimism derail your artistic output, it is important to be realistic. Most published authors don’t make a lot of money on their books, and that number is considerably smaller for self-published authors. A traditional publisher can promote your book much better than you can, and they get it into many more bookstores.
Even if your self-published book has exceeded all your goals for success, it’s still likely that a traditional publisher could sell far more copies of your book. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with writing a book to satisfy your own artistic needs and getting great pleasure from the small number of people who read your self-published book. But many authors would define success in monetary terms or simply by getting their books into as many hands as possible, and a traditional publishing house is far likelier to be able to do that than you can by self-publishing.
For all the reasons above, many self-published authors will consider it worth their time to try to secure a traditional publishing deal even after self-publishing their book. But just how does one go about doing that?
There’s no golden time, like six months or two years, for example, after self-publishing to seek out a traditional publisher. What’s important is waiting long enough for your self-published book to have some success. With online booksellers and e-books, it’s never been easier to have success as a self-published author. You want to wait until you can demonstrate that you have had success with your self-published book before you reach out to literary agents or traditional publishers.
It’s pretty simple: if you can demonstrate that your book can sell, even at the modest self-publishing level, then publishers will be interested. If your self-published book doesn’t sell, then, unfortunately, it seems like you’ll have to retool your book or try another idea to get published.
While some self-published books have sold like hotcakes, most successful self-published books still do modest numbers. But even this can demonstrate marketability. This is especially true if you can demonstrate that your book appeals to a specific demographic, such as sports fans, young women, gardening enthusiasts, or elementary school children. This lets the publisher know they’ll have a clear plan for marketing your book. It’s all about demonstrating that you have a successful platform, which is something you can also do with consistent blog writing.
As with everything else in life, there are both pros and cons of going the traditional publishing route after self-publishing your book.
Many authors dream of signing a deal with a traditional publishing company, but it’s no guarantee of happiness or success. You’ll have much less control and ownership of a traditionally published book than a self-published e-book. Consider that you’ll make less money off each copy sold and you’ll have much less influence over things like book cover design.
It’s reasonable to expect more copies of your book to be sold. That’s the primary benefit of a traditional publishing house: their marketing muscle. But also expect them to want full rights to your work. If you initially published your book with a hybrid publisher, this could be a problem. Carefully review the contract you signed with your hybrid publisher.
The publisher’s responsibility to you will be outlined in the publishing contract you sign with them, so a literary agent can really come in handy here. Basically, you can expect the publisher to handle distribution, marketing, warehousing, and, unlike how it sometimes in hybrid publishing, the publishing house will probably also provide a proofreader and editor.
Let’s say you’ve self-published your book and you’ve seen some success. What’s next?
Finding a literary agent after self-publishing is not all that different from finding one with just a finished manuscript. As an indie author, you will need to assemble a submission package, and this might include your self-published book or merely an acknowledgement of and information about your self-published book. Then, you’ll need to do some research on which literary agents or agencies fit your needs. That is to say, if you’ve written a gritty, hardboiled crime novel, an agency that specializes in publishing children’s books is probably not the right fit for you.
Some literary agents will recommend you pull your self-published book from the market before seeking a traditional publishing company. But this is not universally accepted. If you have your own agent, ask them. Whatever you do, don’t hide the fact that you’ve self- or indie published. Hopefully, you’ll be able to demonstrate some previous success, so it will be good to make that known.
The publishing industry is vast and varied, so there’s no one way to market yourself to a mainstream publisher. Try to show them that you know your target audience, and, above all else, be professional. You can’t afford to submit a book full of errors, which is another reason why book editors are so valuable.
There are no hard-and-fast rules when it comes to traditional publishing after self-publishing. From self-publishing companies and vanity publishers to mainstream publishers, there are many options and lots to learn for aspiring authors. Ultimately, you lose nothing by at least looking into traditional publishers and seeing what they think of your book. But getting to that point can be a confusing process. Elite Authors can help. We’ve helped countless aspiring authors achieve their publishing dreams. Could you be next? Contact us today and let’s find out!