Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.
Historically, the publication of a book has been made possible by one of the Big 5 Selective Publishers, such as Random penguin house Where Macmillan, a boutique or self-published press. Self-publishing, the old-fashioned way, involves paying thousands of pounds up front.
In the wake of the rise of Amazon and other platforms, a new style of self-publishing has emerged: print on demand. This new publishing option eliminated the upfront payment options for publishing, which caused a boom in the number of authors publishing their work. New writers trying to make their name quickly flooded self-publishing platforms, such as Amazon’s KDP. Many of these writers were unfamiliar with publishing industry standards and marketing techniques to be successful. Because of this, many self-published books will never see a bookstore or be noticed by bloggers. The oversaturation of low-quality self-published works means that authors with high-quality works have a hard time getting noticed.
Related: 7 Common Self-Publishing Questions on Amazon
Despite the overcrowding in the self-publishing industry, some authors have managed to gain press attention and gain recognition for their work. These writers typically have a solid background in digital marketing and graphic design that enables them to create compelling graphics and engaging social media campaigns. Others who don’t have these skills but can afford to hire a digital marketing expert are also seeing success. Authors who can’t do either are looking for a happy medium between self-publishing and the endless questioning of an agent who can endlessly question the Big 5.
Independent publishers, a formidable common ground
Independent publishers work very similar to Big 5 publishers, but are often more open to various authors and genres. Usually, their publication catalogs offer a wider range of genres more suited to current trends and reader enjoyment rather than the race for awards. There are genre-specific independent presses, especially for the romance genre. Independent presses also generally operate on a smaller budget, but offer authors a higher royalty percentage, so that authors receive income sooner than they would with a larger publisher. Freelance publishers often work directly with authors rather than with an agent. Like the Big 5, independent publishers are quite selective about the work they choose to publish and usually have specific quality guidelines for publishing.
Independent publishers versus vanity publishers
Independent publishers may seem similar to vanity publishers, but there are several key distinctions. One distinction is when the publisher earns income. Vanity publishers require authors to pay before helping with publication and marketing, while independent publishers share the book’s royalties after publication or offer upfront royalty advances, just like large publishers. Independent publishers are creating more partnerships with authors and developing a marketing and publishing strategy to ensure the success of these authors.
Another distinction is the role of the publishing house. Vanity editors serve as an intermediary between authors to help them find reputable publishers and cover artists. They can help with marketing and distribution, but that responsibility often falls on the authors. Authors also bear the financial risk of the publication, since they pay the production costs. Independent publishers assume all financial risks of publishing, but contribute to the marketing, distribution and production of books.
Related: 5 Ways Your Business Will Benefit From Writing A Book
Independent Publishers Amplify Marginalized Voices: A Case Study
The first book I published was a self-published book, and I noticed it didn’t get as much attention as I would have liked. So I decided to go through the traditional publishing process and interviewed over 100 publishers for my second book. I have heard from very little. It was published by an independent publisher, where I saw what worked and what could be improved in the publishing industry. I learned the ins and outs of the publishing industry and noticed the need for a business that focuses on diverse voices.
In 2015, I created an independent publishing house, GenZ Edition, aimed at authors with fresh voices, but often overlooked and under-represented in the publishing industry. We focus on writers who write stories around meaningful dialogue, such as overcoming adversity. Since its conception, GenZ and its YA label, Zenith, have published more than 115 books, including #OwnVoices LGBTQ + and books for the disabled. Additionally, our marketing team has helped many of our books reach the Top 100 list in their respective categories on Amazon.
I like to say that our writers are making a positive impact on the world one word at a time. Through our books, we would like to make this a literal reality. That’s the power of independent book publishing.
Related: How Books Can Be Your Best Content Marketing Strategy
The future is diverse
Diverse and inclusive books are essential for creating positive change in the world, and authors traditionally under-represented in the publishing industry deserve a chance to showcase their writing skills. Independent editors are the starting point to ensure that these stories are read, enjoyed and consumed by the public. In recent years, more and more independent publishers focusing on marginalized voices have emerged.
Reading is as essential today as it ever was. Readership of the book has increased by 30% from the previous year, and people regularly search for new stories to capture their attention and test their beliefs. As a result, independent publishers must continue to forge partnerships with traditionally under-represented authors and marginalized voices and select those who create new perspectives and essential dialogues for people to digest and learn.
With more readers feeling seen and heard, it’s no wonder the readership is on the rise. Independent publishers are the future of publishing for a world in which anyone can read.