|Jan Vermeer, “The Geographer”|
The amount of control an author has over the traditional publishing process is something that I think tends to surprise non-writers.
Do you get to approve the cover? Nope.
Do you get to call the book whatever you want? Not usually.
But what if you don’t like the cover? Can’t you stop it? Sometimes. Not often.
As we move into an era when authors have a real choice about whether they want to go the self-publishing or traditional publishing route, authorial control over the publishing process is a very very important issue, and it’s something author Hannah Moskowitz recently touched on as well.
I think it’s essential to know what kind of author you are. Are you the type of person who wants control the entire publishing process? Or are you happy to give some of that up?
Personally, I like the collaborative element of traditional publishing. My publisher has been great, I love my editor, and I truly don’t know what I would have done without them. I love my illustrator, I love the cover, I love the pages, I love the ink, I love the paper, I love the air between the pages when they’re kind of flapping in the wind.
I actually did have have input over the illustrator, and I was so thrilled with Christopher S. Jennings’ illustrations that I changed description within the book to match the illustrations. I feel like he captured Dexter in particular better than my description did.
For a lot of authors (like me), when you have a traditional publisher you view your book as part of a collaborative process. The book really truly benefits from the input of your publisher. You trust that they know what they’re doing. They are living and breathing covers and jacket copy and titles and books and all the rest. It’s what they do. You best be listening to them, and those rules about publishers having ultimate say exist for the reason. They’re fronting the investment to produce the book, and it prevents books from being held up by arguments and disagreements.
But you do give up some control with traditional publishing. When you go with a traditional publisher they may have at least mutual approval or at most total approval over what your book is called. The traditional publishing process will likely involve discussions about what your title is going to be. You probably won’t have ultimate say over your cover.
If the idea of giving up that control gives you the willies: Self-publishing might be the way to go.
You now have that option to produce the book exactly as you want it. Self-publishing affords you total control: over the cover, the editorial process, the title, and everything else. Freedom is yours.
If you want someone else to handle the nuts and bolts and trust the publisher to make the ultimate calls: Traditional publishing may be for you.
Traditional is the decision I made, and it’s a choice I’ve been very happy with.