The Down-Side of Publishing Houses

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Last post, we talked about how publishing houses really sell convenience. They provide an editor, artist, and all the other parts you need to turn your words into a book.

But there’s a downside to that convenience. The editor and the artist don’t work for you. They work for the publisher, who ultimately decides on the cover of the book, and to some extent, the text, too.

In other words: It’s not your book anymore. It’s theirs. You are a contractor who provides the words on their project, and they allow you to consult on the other parts.

I realize that that makes it sound sinister. It’s not. The publisher is the one fronting the money for the book (which used to be a lot more than $1000), and they’re the ones with experience selling books, so it’s perfectly reasonable that they’d want final decision to protect their investment. And the fact is, if your goal is to sell lots of books, their input will probably help.

But for me, success is measured in how many people try the techniques and add them to their routine practice. Which isn’t the same as selling lots of books. It might mean a different audience, a different cover, or different words. It’ll probably mean offering the book as a free PDF, in addition to print. In other words, my goals don’t exactly align with a book publisher’s.

Might some publishers let me make a book true to my vision? Sure. But there’s no way to know if any particular one will when I sign a book deal.

Some endeavors are about maximizing the average case’s results. Others are about maximizing convenience. And some are about avoiding bad outcomes.

For me, for this book, I want to avoid bad outcomes. So, at least for now, I’m going to proceed assuming I’ll self-publish.

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