Selecting the right method of publishing your book is always a challenge, but for novice authors who begin to write after retirement, the task is particularly difficult. The excitement of having completed their first book is quickly tempered as they plunge into the confusing maze that characterizes the publishing industry. That experience is very different from working in a familiar area that has been associated with the life-long career that they have recently left.
The options are many, but as newcomers to the industry it is not easy to select the ideal method or the best publishing house. If you are one of these retirees and realize that your professional background hasn’t prepared you for the intricacies of bringing your manuscript to life, this brief primer will offer you a basis for making your selections.
Three Publishing Methods
The publishing world is broken into three basic categories: traditional, publishing on demand (POD) and self-publishing. Each is characterized in part by a specific methodology that is based on the capability and the requirements of the printing press that it uses. Presses used to produce books are broken into two groups.
Digital printing, the newest entry into Natalia’s Bookhouse the publishing field, is accomplished with a technology similar to that used in computer printing. Its greatest advantage is the ability to print short press runs, not previously possible. Many retirees will recognize this system as an extension of the digital printing facilities their former companies operated in-house.
Offset presses, the old tried and true war horses of the industry, require an inked image that is then transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket on the press. Its shortcoming is its inability to print fewer than 1,500 copies cost-effectively. There is substantial waste as the plates and ink are adjusted to obtain perfect colors and registration. Offset is ideal for longer press runs.
Traditional publishing houses are the ones that rapidly come to mind when most people speak of publishing. They are the behemoths like Doubleday, Penguin, Knopf, etc. Today most of the “biggies” have been absorbed by huge conglomerates, and are extremely difficult for the average author to contract. They deal almost exclusively with celebrities, political figures and well-established writers, and usually print by offset because of the large quantities they produce.