Writing your Mind, Body, Spirit book is fun. What comes after this is often more challenging, and it begins with understanding your publishing options. When you’re ready to become a Mind, Body or Spirit author you will need to choose between two main publishing routes: traditional publishing and non-traditional publishing. Which one you choose, will depend on what you want to gain, and what you're willing to let go of.
Traditional vs Non-Traditional Publishing: It's Your Choice
Starting out, lots of mind, body and spirit authors would love for their manuscript to be selected for publication by a reputable publishing house. Firstly, acknowledgement by a traditional publisher feels fabulous as it gives you validation that your writing is good. Secondly, the thought of someone else taking over the intricacies of publishing, distributing and marketing your book is a welcomed relief.
However, unless you're a superstar legend author with a large profile and platform, the marketing of your book and the building of your author platform will be left almost entirely up to you. Yes, really. It means that even if your book is acquired by a traditional publisher, you will have to work out how to promote and sell it, and cover any expenses that goes along with it.
Furthermore, if you sign a book deal with a traditional publisher you will lose your book’s copyright, forever. Ask yourself, In the long run, is this truly in my creative best interest? If the traditional publisher can't compensate you adequately for your loss of copyright, considering an alternate publishing route may be a better option for you.
The Old Way
Did you know, only 1% of manuscripts received by publishing houses globally end up being published by them and the books usually only have a minimal shelf life? These are books from all genres and not just mind, body, spirit.
The reality of traditional publishing for many mind, body, spirit authors, and this includes bestselling mind, body, spirit authors, is often an uninspiring one. Once the initial high of having your manuscript acquired subsides, the publishing machine sets in; minimal compensation, minimal say in your book's presentation, minimal say in your book's future, minimal feedback.
Of course, there are always exceptions to the hard slog story of trying to get your manuscript noticed, first by a literary agent or then a half-decent publisher, but it’s more rare than not, and usually means you know someone who knows someone, are a celebrity, have a Ph.D., achieved a notable literary award or have a substantial platform to start with.
Many traditional publishers will not deal with you, the mind, body, spirit author, directly. They will only communicate with you through a literary agent who is there to work on your behalf to negotiate a good contract. Unfortunately, some agents do very little for you and they are often difficult to get in touch with, even when they have agreed to represent you.
To access a literary agent, in the first instance, especially if you are a first-time mind, body, spirit author is hugely challenging. Some agents don’t even have the courtesy to reply to your queries, yes, even the spiritual ones. They are time challenged and scattered between multiple authors and deadlines.
Finding an agent and a publisher, and then awaiting your book’s publication can take many months and even years. When the book finally goes to market, the publisher, distributor, and agent each take a slice of your book pie profits. Therefore, as a first-time mind, body, spirit author, you will receive something like a measly 80 cents for each book sold.
Marketing is the hardest part of getting your book out into the world. It requires a shift in mindset, from writer to business. Getting your book noticed, discussed, referred and bought isn't easy. The traditional publisher may feature your book in an industry catalogue but that's it. You will be required to organise your own publicity opportunities.
Again, to be fair, there are mind, body, spirit authors who do have wonderfully supportive agents and publishers, and there can be benefits to going the traditional publishing route, if you are aware, compensated fairly and working in partnership.
Also, literary agents and publishers are very good at dealing with the complexities of publishing and distributing books to foreign markets, where English is not the common language, along with handling the legalities that may arise from having a very popular book, like a Hollywood film deal!
Having professional publishers with high expectations of you; deadlines, standards of writing and conduct can elevate you as an author, your writing and output. Having an attentive agent with whom you can plan your career as an author; more books, awards, speaking engagements, products and services can also be beneficial, especially if you prefer direction.
Vanity Publishing: Beware!
The traditional publishing industry has been in major flux since the onset of print-on-demand services and the burgeoning of online technologies which have liberated the mind, body, spirit author from industry shackles.
Today, publishing houses are only interested in a ‘sure thing’ – books that will certainly rake in a profit. Therefore, they are less inclined than ever before to take a chance on a first-time author and especially not one without a platform.
Traditional publishers have created something rather non-traditional within their own industry out of pure desperation which actually affects their credibility. Due to financial pressure, many notable publishers, including the mind, body, spirit variety, are either directly or indirectly associated with vanity publishers, also known as vanity press.
Vanity publishing offers aspiring authors, including mind, body, spirit authors book publishing, distribution, and marketing services at the author’s expense while legally disadvantaging them. The danger with being a first-time author is that often people who are new to the publishing industry don't know what they don't know.
Vanity publishers offer authors an embellished sense of association with their parent publisher company. That means, you, as the mind, body, spirit author take all the risk and never them, and you pay for the ‘privilege’ of ‘not really’ being associated with a reputable publisher.
Vanity publishers will disadvantage you by contractually claiming the copyright of your book for a few years, be the official publisher of your book, own your book’s ISBN and take something like 50% of any sale you make, even though they are actually doing nothing for you that is of any expense to them.
Then, if your book does really well, you are obliged to hand over your copyright to its parent company – the big publisher who wasn’t really interested in you or your book in the first place. Beware of vanity publishers!
Self-Publishing: The Author's Way
Self-publishing is a non-traditional publishing route and though its been around for a long time, only recently, has it gained remarkably in popularity because of the accessibility of online and print-on-demand technologies.
Its also know as independent publishing and indie publishing. Self-publishing is about self-empowerment and so it very much suits the aspirations of mind, body, spirit authors; in control of one's identity, creativity, information sharing, networking and output.
The best way forward for many first-time and established mind, body, spirit authors is certainly self-publishing. It does require you to educate yourself about the publishing industry, book design options and marketing.
There is an abundance of free information available on the internet about self-publishing. You may like to check out Joel Friedlander's site: The Book Designer. It's a treasure chest. The most difficult thing can be feeling overwhelmed by how much information there is. However, when enough time passes, by learning a little each day about the process, you'll become an expert. Truly.
There are also author services available to you like the Chrysler Author Packages that can help you with the process of self-publishing your book. These are paid services where you, the author/publisher, retain your book's ownership. As an independent publisher you are the master of your book’s destiny, which can be really empowering.
Rather than have your book, at best, sit on a store shelf for a few weeks or months, as a self-publisher your mind, body, spirit book can have a long life online. There are all kinds of possibilities open to you with that one book, when you own its copyright.
Also, if your independent book performs particularly well, the traditional publishers will come to you and you will then get a far better deal from them, monetarily, than if you’d sought them out in the first instance.
By then, however, you may not care very much about them because you will have gained so much already for having taken the independent publishing route. You will be aware of the ins and outs of publishing a book which is great knowledge to have gained as an author.
You may even choose to hold tight to your book's copyright, forevermore! After all, who will ever understand or love your book as much as you do?