Digital media strategist, tutor and publishing consultant Jane Friedman has just updated her Key Book Publishing Paths chart. Those who follow Jane’s excellent resource website for authors and publishers will know that she has been providing this free chart for the past two years and kept it regularly up to date to reflect the changes in the publishing industry.
The purpose of Friedman’s Key Book Publishing Paths is to clarify the available paths to publishing — what they are and what the advantages and disadvantages are — whether an author wants to self-publish or follow a traditional publishing route. Friedman explains that one of the biggest questions she gets asked by authors is — Should I traditionally publish or self-publish? It’s always a difficult question to answer because no two writers are the same and different writers have different aspirations and goals. But more importantly the landscape of publishing is changing and it’s becoming more and more difficult to precisely define the terms ‘traditionally published’ and ‘self-published.’ It seems not a year goes by when I don’t hear a new term introduced, whether its ‘author-publisher,’ ‘hybrid publishing’ or ‘crowdfunded publishing’ and more often than not new models of publishing (and the terms applied to them) are combinations of both.
Friedman explains her Key Book Publishing Paths and what it has now evolved into:
There is no one path or service that’s right for everyone; you must understand and study the changing landscape and make a choice based on long-term career goals, as well as the unique qualities of your work. Your choice should also be guided by your own personality (are you an entrepreneurial sort?) and experience as an author (do you have the slightest idea what you’re doing?).
My chart divides the field into three identifiable forms of traditional publishing and three identifiable forms of self-publishing.
Traditional publishing: I define this primarily as not paying to publish. One of the growth areas you’ll find here are no-advance deals and digital-only deals that offer a low advance, if any at all. Such arrangements reduce the publisher’s risk, and this needs to be acknowledged if you’re choosing such deal—because you aren’t likely to get the same support and investment from the publisher on marketing and distribution. The digital-only category is best described with the Wild West cliche: You’ll find very new presses here who don’t know a thing about publishing, as well as established New York houses launching innovative imprints.
Self-publishing: I define this as paying to publish or publishing on your own. Compared to the earlier version of this chart, I’ve gone into more detail about full-service and assisted models. This is where significant growth and innovation is happening. The AuthorSolutions star is fading fast (especially with the pending lawsuit), and more companies are entering the field with premium services and the promise of quality selection or curation. However, there’s still a very high risk of paying too much money for basic services, and also for purchasing services you don’t need. If you can afford to hire a company to help you self-publish, use the very detailed reviews at Independent Publishing Magazine by Mick Rooney to make sure you choose the best service for you.
The chart is free to download, print or share and you can do this directly from Jane Friedman’s document link.