Book Publishers cannot possibly know what it’s like to write a book unless they’ve written one themselves. How do I know that? Because I am a professional writer and a publisher. Until I completed my first book-length manuscript, I was clueless about those unavoidable labor pains!

I also had little appreciation for the “birthing” or publishing procedure until I founded my own publishing company. If you haven’t eaten pizza before, how can you describe what it tastes like to someone else?

If you haven’t gone through the process of drafting, revising, editing and proofing a manuscript, how can you expect a book publisher to appreciate your desire to have your work expertly produced?

As a conscientious researcher, I work hard to live up to my title of “Queen of Digital Publishing,” jokingly coined by one of my colleagues. Regularly, I comb the internet for the latest information.

One of the best resources for digital or on demand book publishing is Angela Hoy’s Writer’s Weekly.

On her website, Hoy writes:

“The dirty little secret of the Print On Demand (POD) industry is that the most popular ones all use the same service to do our printing, and we all distribute our books through Ingram. So the quality of our books and the places to which we sell them are identical. The only real differences are the prices we charge, the quality of our customer service, and our business models.

Focus on Quality

Hoy makes an important point. Demand quality from yourself and others; maintain the highest standards in all aspects of your life.

Publish only with a company that offers quality services, including quality customer service. For example, avoid working with book publishers that do not serve their customers personally. Automated or turnkey companies are glorified quick print copy services. My 25+ years of publishing experience have taught me that pre-press and printing services both require special attention.

Naming Names

Hoy doesn’t hesitate to point out that “iUniverse, XLibris, and Authorhouse and many of the smaller POD companies have a business model built around selling a base publishing package, and then upselling authors on additional services.

“Whether you sell a copy of your book to anyone or not doesn't really matter because their profit comes from upselling authors on products and services. This is why they take any book submitted to them, regardless of quality.

“They care more about how many authors they can squeeze through their doors than they care about quality. If they truly cared about quality, they wouldn't be putting so much garbage on the market, which actually hurts our entire industry.”

Whew! Little needs to be added to Hoy’s opinion about three of the largest and most popular online book publishers.

Let me point out, however, that Hoy’s own company, BookLocker.com, is a publishing services company. Therefore, she neatly avoids the “garbage issue.”

Publishing Services vs. Publishing

Booklocker.com states in its contract that “..the company is not a publisher and retains no exclusive rights to the publisher’s Work. Self-published authors are their own publishers and are free to list and sell their books elsewhere.”

If you go to OfficeMax, Staples, Kinko’s or any other copy place and ask them to copy and bind some pages you’ve printed out; or if you give them a file on disk and ask them to print out and bind it, they will not reject your work. In fact, they will print anything you give them; so will the three online publishing companies Hoy mentions.

Work with a company that evaluates the manuscripts it receives and that is dedicated to publishing only quality works.

Publishers vs. Co-Publishers

I would also like to point out that today there is little distinction between a publisher, often referred to as a “traditional publisher” and a co-publisher. (Neither of these models resembles the type of turnkey digital online publishing company referred to by Hoy.)

Traditional publishers often do not accept manuscripts submitted directly; they work only with literary agents. This means the work must be professionally edited before the author submits it, or it will be rejected after an editor reads the first couple pages. Usually the author must also invest time and money developing a professionally written book proposal.

Co-publishing opens the doors to authors who may need final editing and/or book doctoring assistance. Often a co-publisher will accept the manuscript with the understanding that the author is willing to pay for this professional work.

Also, frequently a first author signing in with a traditional publisher will only be allowed to accept the publisher’s offer if they agree to pay for their own marketing and promotion—demonstrating in advance that they have a hefty budget for their book launch. Usually this budget far exceeds the costs of publishing with a co-publisher.

Yes, but… if the author has a large budget for the book launch, isn’t that a guarantee that the campaign will start the sales snowball rolling? No… and yes. There is NEVER a guarantee that a marketing campaign will produce significant book sales.

The marketplace is whimsical and unpredictable. What’s “in” today may be “out” tomorrow. You can spend $50,000 on your book launch and end up with the same number of sales as the author who published with a co-publisher (spending less than $10,000 for a quality book, including a short print run). Creative low cost marketing often gets better results than an expensive campaign with a traditional publisher.

Focus on Quality!

By now we’ve all heard the “lipstick-on-a-pig” statement enough to know that if a manuscript lacks substance, it will never be considered a quality product. The major ingredient is still missing.

Work with a co-publisher that offers professional editing and book-doctoring. Pay for quality services, even if you may be paying an additional sum for professional line editing and proofing. It is so reassuring to produce a book you can be proud of.

Author's Bio: 

Carol Adler, MFA’s first ghost-written book listing her name as co-editor, Why Am I Still Addicted? A Holistic Approach to Recovery, was endorsed by Deepak Chopra, M.D., and published by McGraw-Hill. Other publications include three novels, four books of poetry, and well over 200 poems in literary journals. She has ghostwritten over 40 non-fiction and fiction works for a number of professionals in the education, health care and human potential industries.

Carol is President of Dandelion Books, LLC of Tempe, Arizona; a full service publishing company. She is also President and CEO of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc., Write to Publish for Profit and President of the International Arts & Media Foundation, a non-profit subsidiary of Dandelion Enterprises, Inc.

Her business experience includes co-ownership of a Palm Beach, FL public relations company and executive management positions in two U.S. rejuvenation and mind/body wellness corporations, for which she founded publishing divisions.

Carol has served as editor of several poetry and literary magazines. Her career experience includes extensive teaching of college-level creative and business writing, and conducting of writing workshops in prisons, libraries, elementary, junior and high schools, and senior citizen centers.

Additional Resources on Publishing can be found at:

Website Directory for Publishing
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Discussion Board
Carol Adler, The Official Guide to Publishing