In my time as a writer, I’ve done a lot of research on different types of publishing. I’m torn between self-publishing and publishing through an established publishing house, big or small. There seem to be pros and cons to each option, and publishing something is a big deal, so it’s important to know all the facts, right?
We’ve all picked up books while browsing and have seen the big publishing companies listed on the spine. My personal favourites are Penguin Books Canada and Random House of Canada, as these are the names I saw the most often when reading.
Personally, I’m in favour of publishing via a professional publishing house mostly because I’ve never published a manuscript before, and I don’t have a clue as to what I’m doing. Sure, there’s plenty of research, and that’s all well and good, but there are some facts and some information that only comes with experience. Professional publishing brings in the issue of a publishing agent, someone who can represent you and bring your work to a publishing house on your behalf, which costs money. In some places, agents aren’t required, but those spots are becoming rare. As well, due to the growth of self-publishing, establishing publishing houses are losing some of their clients and work. Money is tight, and while they would welcome new material, a lot of times, only established (in other words, previously published) writers are welcome to submit manuscripts, and with tight genre restrictions.
Self-publishing is something that is really intimidating to me. There are some elements that a publishing house would do for you (or, at least, with you) that I would have no idea how to do on my own. Something as “simple” as a copyright page in a common novel…I would have no idea how to create one of those, and probably end up copying one from a book and putting my own things in. That’s not how it should be done, and there’s only so much that Google can provide. Another confusing part is making my own cover art. I’m not much of a sketcher or photographer, but you can’t use images from Google because of copyright, so what else is there? These are all elements that an established publishing house can help with.
As I said, these established companies can help with all the “little” things that confuse first time submitters, and it’s a great learning process. Another huge issue that a publishing house can help with is a good, thorough edit. There will be a lot of material that they can improve and they will see little plot holes that we miss. All writers, no matter how experienced, benefit from a professional editor, and though they exist independently and are often advertised on self-publishing websites, I would much prefer one through a publishing house.
Feel free to share your own opinions and thoughts on the subject!