Friday, March 31, 2017

Do Authors Lose Control in Traditional Publishing?

Authors have two main options when it comes to getting their books out there: self-publishing and traditional publishing. Both paths have their own advantages and disadvantages, and proponents on either side will argue that their way is better. I can understand both sides, but I take issue with one claim that always seems to come up in support of self-publishing. The claim is that traditionally published authors lose control of their books.

But is this true? Do traditionally published authors give up control over their books?

As a traditionally published author, I've never felt like I was giving up control. Sure, some of my ideas were nixed. For both my first and my second book, my original titles were shot down. But when it was time to pick a new title, I was part of the conversation. I liked the title Dead Boy when it was suggested to me. I'm the one who suggested the title Monster, Human, Other. (Unless you don't like the title. Then let's pretend someone else came up with it.)

Before the cover art was started, I was asked about any ideas or preferences I had. Before the back copy was created, I had a chance to give my input. I had more chances to chime in before these pieces were finalized.

My editor had notes for both manuscripts. (Oh boy did she have notes!) But I got to decide how to fix issues, and if I disagreed with something, we could discuss it. The story remained mine—but it was better than what I could have produced on my own.

I never felt like I was giving up control. Instead, I felt like I was getting help from experts who had a vested interest in making my book successful. Authors who sell their books to traditional publishers will be expected to collaborate, but in my experience, they won’t be expected to sacrifice what they love about their books.

And I’m not sure complete control is always a good thing. Most authors don’t have years of experience designing covers or marketing books. Isn’t it better to put an expert in charge of these aspects? It gives authors more time to write, which is exactly what I want.