Today we conclude our three-post series on the types of publishing with the type of publishing most people are most familiar with because of it’s long history, hence the term traditional publishing.
Traditional Publishing refers to the process where an author submits a cover letter and manuscript to one of the big house publishers and receives notification of acceptance. There are a couple of different ways that it can work from here. Sometimes, the author is given an advance with a detailed deadline schedule. Sometimes, the author isn’t paid until the first copies are sold, which is to say a royalty-based agreement. Already, you can see in this model, that the publisher is the one who not only decides on how this relationship between author and publisher works. So, it isn’t surprising that the publisher maintains all rights for the contracted period.
This begs the question, now that we have discussed all three types of publishing, why does an author seek any kind of publishing in which he or she forgoes his or her rights? One of the main reasons is that’s how it’s always been done, which is followed closely by the explanation that the author doesn’t want to be a publisher. He or she wants to write and not worry about the publishing process. This certainly makes sense, but by not wanting to worry about the publishing process, the author often loses more if and when he or she does want to worry about publishing.
While I would never give advice on which way is best, my hope is that knowing the ins and outs of these three types of publishing might help authors be a little more savvy in contract negotiations, in particular in regards to maintaining his or her creative rights. I’ll say again, if you are approached with a deal that doesn’t seem to fit these models, please ask someone before you sign!