Authors Beware: New Information on the Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing Argument


in Articles and Thoughts,Book Publishing,Impact

Kenneth A. McArthurHey Folks,

Last night I got an email from Glenn Dietzel saying, “Wow…you are really doing your homework.”

I think that’s a compliment coming from Glenn, because he has an amazing background as an educator.

That’s one of the reasons that I asked Glenn to speak at both my “Get Your Product Done” Event and jvAlert Live, Philadelphia, June 8th, 9th and 10th.


Most people don’t do their homework.

I don’t want that to be me for the Impact 101: How to Get Noticed, Motivate Millions, Change Lives and Make a Difference in a Noisy World book project, so I’m trying to do my homework.

Yesterday, Seth Godin emailed me and asked me if I had a publisher for the book yet.

I don’t.

Why?  Because …

I’m juggling several issues here.

I have to admit, I’m still trying to adjust to the idea of going the traditional publishing route with this one.

I’ve got a decent platform and relationships that will allow me to move books and products.

My background is direct info product marketing, so the traditional publishing model is hard to adjust to after selling info-product packages for $1,497.00 each.

  1. Direct profits aren’t the same
  2. I lose control over many aspects of the content
  3. I lose rights to my own work

Seth Godin has a lot to say about publishing and when I asked what he recommended, he pointed me to an article that he wrote on the subject.

Here’s Seth Godin’s article on the publishing business.

But for all of the downsides of traditional publishing …

I’m definitely considering going the traditional publishing route for this one, because of the credibility factor.

I think that I have an opportunity to bring in some VERY high level participants in the project and that the range of this is pretty massive.

After all who doesn’t want to have an impact, get noticed, motivate millions and make a difference in the world.

I know that every author is on a mission and probably a lot of the rest of the world too.

And I know that I have some solid information that can make it easier for them to actually get noticed, motivate people, spread their message and develop a system that makes their ideas make a difference in the long-term — and even be able to financially support that mission.

  • The perception when your book is published by a large publisher is that the book is a “real book.”
  • The perception when your book is self-published …. varies.

My business goals are:

  1. Branding and exposure
  2. Lead development for backend products

My personal goal is to have a little impact for good and to help other people make a difference.

So I started to do a little homework.

I’ve attended live workshops on book publishing — live events are crucial — see I really do what I preach sometimes!

Bill and Steve Harrison, who I met when I was speaking at Mike Filsaime’s 7 Figure Business Workshop were nice enough to send me a copy of their Million Dollar Author Program.

Info Packages can be worth their weight in gold.

The Million Dollar Author Program is a great resource and I’ve gone though all 13 DVDs of it including Rick Frishman‘s great presentation on Guerrilla publicity.

Then start looking for people.

Luckily, I have a few friends, “in the business” so I wasn’t at a total loss and I started contacting a few of my friends.

Fresh off the New York Times Best Seller List, best selling author Joel Comm has his own “imprint” called Made Easy Publishing through Morgan James, a New York Publisher.

Joel took a look at my last blog post and e-mailed me immediately with, “Dude, call me today!”

So naturally, I called Joel.

Joel thinks that this book project is a perfect match for Made Easy Publishing and was kind enough to set up a three way call with David Hancock the founder of Morgan James Publishing which focuses on four book categories: Business, Self-Help, Inspirational and Health.

Now David Hancock has an interesting story.  David was named a Finalist in the Best Chairman category in The 2006 American Business Awards. Hailed as “the business world’s own Oscars” by the New York Post (April 27, 2005).

David was even selected for Fast Company Magazine’s Fast 50 for 2006.

David wasn’t always a publisher.  In the early part of this decade, David was a mortgage banker who had written a book and been less than thrilled with the conventional book publishing process.

Now he’s grown his business to over 335 titles and publishes well-known authors, including Jay Conrad Levinson, Dr. Robert Anthony, Tony Alessandra and Joe Vitale.

Let’s talk about the different publishing models …

First, realize that NONE of these models promote your book — in most cases at all.

YOU have to promote your book.

That said, for years, the models have been:

Vanity Press — You pay to have your book published, they take your rights and pay you a nominal royalty.

Self-Publish – You pay for EVERYTHING, do EVERYTHING, control EVERYTHING and keep the lion’s share of the profits.

Traditional Publisher – They invest in your book, they take all the rights, they control the content, they give you a tiny royalty.

I like Seth Godin’s description of this process as venture capital:

“They invest cash in an advance. They invest time in creating the book itself and selling it in and they invest more cash in printing books. Like all VCs, they want a big return.”

So which model do you go for?

Oh that it were so simple!

It really depends on what your goals are, but I wanted answers to this specific case, so I contacted more friends who know far better than I do.

Mark Joyner has published MULTIPLE best selling books, so I asked Mark what he thought.

Mark says it’s a long story, but in general, “If your aim is cash: do self.  If your aim is the credibility, do traditional.”

And … he offered to recommend me to his “Wiley guy.”


Here’s a list of the top publishers:

1. Random House, Inc.
2. Simon & Schuster
3. HarperCollins Publishers
4. Penguin Putman
5. Little Brown & Co.
6. Nolo Press
7. Thompson
8. John Wiley & Sons
9. Avon Books
10. Houghton Mifflin
11. Rodale Press
12. Warner Books
13. W.W. Norton & Co.
14. Grolier
15. Reed Elsevier
16. Chadwyck-Healey
17. Fulcrum Books

Notice that Wiley doesn’t do too badly.

And Mark’s advice makes a lot of sense.

Next up I heard from Ben Mack.

Ben recently cracked the Amazon Best-Seller list wide open with his best selling Think Two Products Ahead and also has a contract with Wiley.

And Ben was nice enough to offer to recommend me to his Wiley editor.

Ben is definitely going to be a part of this project because his skill set is amazingly well matched to my topics, so we are planning a LONG talk when we both get to the “Get Your Product Done” Event in Atlanta.

That’s TWO top-selling authors recommending me to Wiley.

So the key issue in this case is credibilty.

I’m not trying to earn big bucks off of the sale of a book.  I’ll save that for backend product sales that the book will generate.

A major publisher could generate more credibility.

But …

There are more options …

Michael Port sold 2500 books in one day and took his book to number one OVERALL on Amazon in only 2 hours.

Michael says his philosophy is simple, “First sell to a publisher. Go as big as you can. If you don’t get deal in 4-6 months then self publish.”

Michael advises to, “Look at every bestseller from the biggest business and personal development gurus on the planet. Almost everyone of them publishes through a big time trade publisher.”

Michael is also a Wiley author.

So who knows more about publishing than Rich Frishman?

Rick Frishman is one of the most powerful and energetic publicists in the media industry.

Rick works with many of the top editors, agents and publishers in America including Simon and Schuster, Random House, Harper Collins, Pocket Books, Penguin Putnam, and Hyperion Books. Some of the authors he has worked with include Mitch Albom, Bill Moyers, Stephen King, Caroline Kennedy, Howard Stern, President Jimmy Carter, Mark Victor Hansen, Nelson DeMille, John Grisham, Hugh Downs, Henry Kissinger, Jack Canfield, Alan Deshowitz, Arnold Palmer, and Harvey Mackay.

Now that’s a list of names!  And yes, he has been on Oprah.

So Rick tells me that …

  1. He wants to be in the book.
  2. He may want to publish it.

It turns out that Rick is executive publisher at Morgan James Publishing and so David Hancock gets another e-mail from Rick on my project.

Glenn Dietzel checks in …

Then I hear from Glenn Dietzel, who by the way is doing some serious new work with Rick Frishman and Morgan James himself so he is a big fan of Morgan James and works with placing authors there.

So Glenn says that, “The problem going with so many people is that you are going to get so many varied opinions.”

Hmmm, I can see that!

But I have to admit that I love varied opinions.  Because after a while the truth comes out.

  • If you ask one person for an opinion; you get theirs.
  • If you ask two people for an opinion; you get confused.
  • But, if you ask a BUNCH of people for an opinion; you start to form your own.

Morgan James is trying to establish a new publishing model

David Hancock associated his business with the Ingram Book Group to add credibility to his authors and take advantage of Ingram’s significant distribution channel.

Morgan James Publishing became the first high-volume title publisher for Lightning Source and uses their print on demand and short-run capabilities to keep costs down while leveraging their wide distribution network.

That technology also reduces time to market.

Joel Comm, literally went from manuscript to New York Times Best Seller in 90 days with Morgan James.

But, there are other issues to talk about.

“Morgan James’s authors are paid a higher royalty than is typical for the publishing industry.  Every author controls the rights to his or her book and may publish it through other channels, or lift it entirely from the Company and turn it over to another publisher, at the author’s discretion.”

“The Company encourages its authors to take their material and offer it in other media, such as audio books and video programs.  Authors are free to publish these materials with the Company or publish them elsewhere.”

But they also charge an author an upfront fee to publish.

Some people would say that that is the “Vanity Press” model.

And …

Some people might say that the quality of “print on demand” books is not as high a quality as offset printing.

Both of those point can — and WILL be argued — probably endlessly.

So what’s the bottom-line?

Lot’s of possibilities and I’m going to explore them all to the best of my ability.

After I’ve talked to both Morgan James and Wiley and most likely others, I’ll form a strong opinion.

For you the answers may be different.

Luckily, the person that was asking about who was publishing my book says he will be fine with either.

All the best,

Ken McArthur

P.S. Today is my good friend Jim Donovan’s anniversary.  No, not of his marriage, but of his changed life.

On April 19th, 1986, his life was totally out of control. He was mentally, physically, spiritually and financially broke. Homeless, penniless, and friendless, he thought his life was over.

Now he’s a best selling author in over 20 countries. Jim was asked to document the exact steps he took to change his life. Over time, that process became his book, This is Your Life, Not a Dress Rehearsal.

To celebrate, Jim put together a re-launch of the book, pulled in favors and asked a select group of his top-level friends to put together 25 complimentary gifts which he will give you, if you get his book now.  I have my copy.

It’s an inspiring story.  Click here to get yours.





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