Traditional Publishing After Self-Publishing: What You Need to Know

Updated on December 16, 2017
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing expert, nonfiction book editor, author of 21+ books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

Source

A member of my Twitter community asked how self published books are viewed by traditional publishers. His question is one that I've encountered several times from authors in my network who hope that their self published books will be picked up for republication by a traditional publishing house. Or they hope that their books will be good enough so that they will be considered by a traditional publisher for future book writing contracts. So I figured it's time to discuss traditional publishing after self publishing.

It's the Market, Not Your Book

I can only think of one self published author friend who earned a traditional publishing contract. She got that deal because of what she was able to offer the publisher: An active social media following of, literally, hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and more. Your following is also known as your fan base or author platform.

Notice in this example that I didn't say she had a book manuscript or previously self published book to offer the publisher (even though she probably could have offered both). She had a built-in market. Traditional publishers want a market and the money that it could bring them, not just another manuscript! They get a lot of manuscripts for consideration already.

How can you show that your book has a market? If your self published book has a significant amount of actual and potential sales, that might be attractive to a traditional publishing house, although that is not guaranteed. Even more attractive might be a substantial following in your field or genre (translation: potential book buyers). The greater your existing following, the lower the potential marketing cost for the publisher. Be prepared to show them sales reports and research, as well as your social profiles for proof of your sales and author platform claims.

Traditional publishers want a market and the money that it could bring them, not just another manuscript!

— Heidi Thorne

It's Too Easy to Self Publish

Authors who self publish know that it takes a lot of work to get a book done and into the marketplace. But when compared to what it used to take to do this, today's self publishing is easy... almost too easy. And traditional publishers know that.

So merely having done a self published book may not carry a lot of weight when a publisher is considering you for a book contract. But, as discussed above, your sales and social media proof could be an attractive selling point.

Have you ever gotten a book deal from a traditional publisher because of your self published book?

See results

Who Owns the Rights to Your Self Published Book? (Not a Crazy Question)

Also be aware that traditional publishers will probably need to verify the copyright ownership of your self published book. Some "self" publishing services may have exclusivity clauses in their agreements with authors which can put major restrictions on the future of your book. If your book is under an exclusive contract, the prospect of republishing your book could be of less interest to a traditional publisher since it could take legal action to wrest it away from the original publishing group or service. Even worse is that you might not even be able to move your book to another self publishing platform or service.

Lesson: Always understand your rights BEFORE signing on to a self publishing platform or service AND always consult an attorney to clarify your publishing rights, restrictions and responsibilities. The future of your book depends on it.

Thinking About Traditional Publishing? Think Ahead!

If you're thinking of self publishing with the hope that it will translate into a traditional publishing deal, realize that your self published book is not an automatic "in" with a publishing house. You'll need to prove that your proposal has value and future sales potential.

Here are additional things you need to think about:

  • Know what publishing houses require prior to approaching them with your book idea or self published book republication proposal. Publishers may post their requirements on their websites or in guides such as the current edition of the Writer's Market. Do your homework!
  • Don't expect a traditional publishing deal to come to you. Getting a book deal is a sales effort that could require making networking connections within the publishing industry.
  • Understand the pros and cons of self and traditional publishing paths before launching headlong into either. Clarifying your goals for writing and publishing a book will help determine which path is the right one for you.

Disclaimer: Both the publisher and author have used their best efforts in preparation of this information. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and both parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice and strategies presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional advisor where and when appropriate. Neither the publisher nor author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential or punitive, arising from or relating to your reliance on this information.

Questions & Answers

  • I got tired of looking for a book deal, and self-published my non-fiction book on Amazon just for the hell of it. The customer reviews suggest that my book is even better than I thought. Now I feel OBLIGATED to promote it. I hate any self-promotion. Do you have any suggestions?

    I think you have to ask yourself why you hate any kind of self-promotion. If you don't promote it, who's going to do it?

    Another question is how much do you want to invest in building an author promotion platform on social media or a personal website? This is an investment! If you don't have the personality or time to do this, then you'll be frustrated and will quickly quit.

    Something else to consider, if it's a Kindle eBook, is Amazon Marketing Services ads. I've written a few articles with tips so that you don't overspend on advertising. But it's an option if you don't want to do the whole PR thing.

© 2016 Heidi Thorne

Comments

Submit a Comment

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    5 months ago from Chicago Area

    True that, Kramseyreader! And I've heard the traditional publishers don't even do a lot of marketing after the book publishes. So, like you, I choose to do it myself.

    Thanks for chiming in and have a great week!

  • profile image

    Kramseyreader 

    5 months ago

    Traditional publishers have way more competition from indie authors than they used to! Traditional publishers have always seemed to attractive to me, but it's kind of ridiculous to think that the only way to be picked up by one is doing the thing you went to them for in the first place. Marketing! It's like, if I can market myself why do I even need you? I could keep the majority of my profits.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    22 months ago from Chicago Area

    Aw, thanks for the sharing, Flourish! Happy New Year to you, too!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    22 months ago from USA

    I'm back to Flip, G+, and Pin this wonderful article. Happy New Year!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    22 months ago from Chicago Area

    Hi MsDora! Glad you found it useful. Hope you had a great Christmas. Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!

  • MsDora profile image

    Dora Weithers 

    22 months ago from The Caribbean

    Heidi, your article is very helpful. You make us see what really counts in attracting a publisher. Thank you.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    22 months ago from Chicago Area

    You're welcome, Asif! Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year!

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    22 months ago from Chicago Area

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Larry! Happy New Year!

  • asifahsankhan profile image

    asifahsankhan 

    22 months ago

    Thank you for this! : )

  • Larry Rankin profile image

    Larry Rankin 

    22 months ago from Oklahoma

    Very interesting overview.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    22 months ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Billybuc! Yep, the truth can be disappointing. But better to live in reality. Thanks for stopping by today! Have a great last week of the year!

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    22 months ago from Olympia, WA

    This is so important for writers to understand. I agree with the publishers, it is much too easy to self-publish and really doesn't mean a thing in the publishing world...and quite frankly it shouldn't mean much. Thanks for tossing out the truth, and Happy New Year.

  • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

    Heidi Thorne 

    22 months ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Flourish! Thanks for reading and sharing. Hope you had a delightful Christmas and a Happy New Year ahead. Cheers!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 

    22 months ago from USA

    Excellent information and advice that completely makes sense. Publishers want the built in market because it'll save them money and resources. You're such a pro. Will share this when I return to my PC.

working

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

Show Details
Necessary
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Features
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Marketing
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Statistics
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)