Author-Centered Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing
Authors have many options for publishing their books, at least theoretically. In the mix of traditional and self-publishing options, author-centered publishing is a distinct alternative. Traditional publishing is still perhaps the first option many authors imagine when writing their manuscript and dreaming of holding a copy of the hardcover edition of their finished book in hand—the look, feel, smell, and heft of it can be intoxicating. Traditional publishers produce hundreds of thousands of new titles every year, making available the work of many authors. However, as the majority of authors know from the school of hard knocks, the path to the promised land of a signed contract with a traditional publisher has many roadblocks. The author must win over numbers of gatekeepers to let them pass from one stage to the next. Few authors actually end up signing a contract, as they originally dreamed of doing, and some of those who achieve their dream find the traditional publishing experience unsatisfactory. The dream turns out to be a let down, or worse, becomes a nightmare. The publisher may fail to follow through on promises made during the negotiation phase, the author may be made to feel like a fifth wheel in the production process, the title receives minimal marketing and publicity support, books are out of print at the worst possible time, and so forth.
Author-Centered Publishing vs. Self-Publishing
Not to worry, there are many paths up the mountain. Authors now have alternatives to the traditional publishing route. A self-publishing craze has swept across the globe over the past fifteen years, or so, offering authors a glimmer of hope that they can publish their book, even if the traditional publishing alternative does not work out. Self-publishing takes various forms, not all being equal in how satisfactory the experience is for the author, the quality of the content or end product (i.e., the book), the success of the book, the return on the investment, and much more. Two branches of the self-publishing sector of the publishing industry stand out: DIY and vanity press. Authors who want to do it themselves have all kinds of resources at their disposal to self-publish in the DIY mode. Many of the self-publishing service companies out there cater to these authors with online tools, automated processes, and rock-bottom pricing. They share a commodity business model, which requires high volume and low cost (i.e., the company’s cost per title is a fraction of what the authors are paying them for their services) for them to make money. They generate the high volume by offering inexpensive publishing packages. They keep their costs low through a strategy of low-touch, hands-off processing. That is, they minimize the amount of times their customer representatives talk with authors, and the time spent per author interaction, insulating their staff with a wall of online resources and automated tools. After all, this is DIY, with an emphasis on the Y (i.e., yourself, not the service provider). A distinction between these DIY self-publishing companies and vanity presses is that vanity presses publish virtually anything an author might want to publish, at a price. Instead of the strategy of high volume and low cost, vanity presses simply charge as much as they can per project. They offer an array of publishing services to their clients, sometimes of quite respectable quality, for which they charge authors a healthy fee. But they do not screen or evaluate the content of the books, nor do they have a stake in the success of the book.
Author-Centered Publishing Explained
Aside from the traditional, DIY and vanity press self-publishing options, is the author-centered publishing option. Radius Book Group offers a publishing alternative to independent, forward-thinking authors, who choose not to pursue traditional publishing and are not well served by the DIY and vanity press self-publishing options. Our author-centered publishing model lowers the barriers of entry without eliminating altogether the valuable function of critically evaluating and weighing the merits of each book. We eschew the DIY self-publishing model in favor of prioritizing developing a strong collaborative relationship with authors. Author-centered publishing recognizes that the entire publishing industry is dependent on many autonomous parts working together; no one, let alone the author, can succeed on their own. We intentionally advocate do-it-together publishing, not DIY self-publishing.
Radius Book Group is a publisher of a different sort. We are not a publishing services provider that authors can hire on a piecemeal basis to perform given tasks they may require to publish their books. Rather, we enter into publishing service agreements with authors, similar to author contracts offered by traditional publishers, but with crucial differences. Primary among the differences is that authors are in control of their publishing program. They retain 100% ownership of the copyright to their work—they do not sign away rights to their intellectual property. The author, rather than the publisher (i.e., Radius Book Group), pays for all production costs and in return reaps the benefits of a substantial portion of net revenue. They are involved in making decisions at every step of the publishing chain: publishing strategy, editorial, design, production, printing, marketing, publicity, and distribution.
- Publishing strategy is what many independent authors lack and find it difficult to develop on their own. Authors share their vision, passion, and hopes for their book with Radius Book Group’s seasoned publishing veterans. Together we shape those assets into a publishing strategy that we can implement to achieve the author’s goals.
- Editorially, they determine the content of the book, the structure and organization of the content, diction, writing style, inclusion of both textual and graphic content (e.g. photos, illustrations, line drawings, tables, graphs, maps).
- The design of the cover and the interior layout of the book require the author’s input, collaboration with our creative team, and vision for how customers will use and interact with the book.
- 4. We settle on production specifications through a dialog based on our team’s publishing expertise and the author’s wishes and desired. Authors decide everything from trim size to castoff, from binding style to cover type, from paper stock and to ink and color(s), from print quantities to type of press (e.g., offset, digital, POD).
- Marketing an publicity plans are formulated in a collaboration between our experts and the author. We work with the author, or a marketing and publicity firm independently engaged by the author, to create a campaign designed to maximize impact and drive customers to buy the book.
- Distribution is already arranged through Ingram, the world’s largest book distributor. Our authors’ books are available globally, online, in bricks-and-mortar stores, and through non-bookstore channels. We can actively sell-in to target markets suited to the book.
In essence, the author-centered publishing option offered by Radius Book Group levels the playing field, putting the author on the same footing as traditional publishers. Neither is author-centered publishing business-as-usual traditional publishing, nor is it DIY self-publishing or vanity press publishing. It places the interests of authors first, it recognizes the value of authors, it allows authors to control their publishing destiny, and it opens an avenue for independent authors to pursue their publishing dreams, by bringing together the full array of first-rate publishing resources that anyone requires to publish books.