What’s the Best Publishing Fit for You?

“I think I want to try the traditional publishing route before going with you.”

It’s a common refrain authors confess to me time and time again. Months later, they come back to me battered and bruised, and deeply discouraged.

Trust me, I’m not anti-traditional publishing. I’ve written 20+ books with them and one of my books is going to be a major re-release with a HarperCollins division in 2022.

(Just so you know, when I mention “traditional publishing”, I’m referring to publishing companies that bear the publishing costs: copyediting, typesetting, book cover design, proofreading, etc. Think HarperCollins or Simon & Schuster)

What I Like About Traditional Publishing

Getting picked up by a traditional publisher feels really good.

Their stamp of approval can establish your writing prowess, storytelling abilities, or unique skillset in the marketplace.

And if your book starts to sell, it can sell a ton of copies. Bookstores enthusiastically carry it. Radio programs clamor to interview you.

Like I said, it feels really good.

That’s about it.

What I Don’t Like About Traditional Publishing

But here’s the downside with traditional publishing:

The barriers to entry are high. During the 2008 recession, the traditional publishing industry shrank, and then drifted in stagnation for the next twelve years. Reports on book sales in 2020 haven’t been released yet, but I know they’ll be up for the first time since then.

If you’re a nonfiction author, the size of your platform (number of loyal fans who would buy your book) is the overriding factor in whether or not they’ll pick you up. If you’re a fiction author with little to no platform, you can still get signed, but your storytelling skills need to be world-class.

Here’s my beef: Celebrities with a big following and little to say can get published while little-known authors who do have something to say, are ignored.

The royalties are low. Expect to make $1.00 to $1.50 in royalties for every book sold.

You’re saying goodbye to your copyrights for the rest of your life. And then some. Little-known fact: traditional publishing companies can legally hold on to the copyrights of your book until 70 years after you die. Your children may not even enjoy the fruits of your efforts.

Traditional publishers have the final word on everything that goes into your manuscript. Don’t like the book cover? Tough luck! Don’t like the title? That doesn’t matter, either.

You know how I mentioned that a traditional publisher is releasing my book in 2022? It’s actually a re-release of a book I wrote in 1999. I found out almost accidentally about the re-release. They’re not giving me a chance to update it. They’re renaming it and giving it a new cover but they’re not asking for my approval.

It feels good to know they like my book, but I have zero control over its release.

Again, I’m not anti-traditional publishing—but enquiring minds need to know.

Here’s How We’re Different from Anyone Else

In Illumify’s early days, back in 2013, I decided to take a different approach. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, I sought to combine the best of both the traditional and self-publishing worlds.

In the end, I discovered that no one else is doing what we’re doing. Here’s our approach:

Barriers to publish with us are much lower than traditional publishers, but then we work hard to help our authors release books at the same level of quality. Illumify isn’t a self-publishing company, per se, because we reject manuscripts on a regular basis.

However, if we like the message or story but the writing still needs a little bump, we also provide book coaching services to raise the level of excellence.

I don’t know of one competitor that offers book coaching services.

I believe every author is driven by a burning desire to publish a book that imparts excellence and authority, that inspires and makes the world a better place.

We, here, at Illumify refer to this as a transcendent book.

We work hard to transform our authors’ books into transcendent books.

Royalties are the highest in the industry. No one pays higher royalties than us. They can’t—because our authors keep 100% of the net proceeds from book sales. Our authors average around $3.50 per book sold through retailers like Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com. That’s at least double what traditional publishers offer.

I don’t know of one competitor that allows their authors to keep all profits from their book sales.

Because we set up our authors on a publishing platform that other publishers use–including traditional publishers–all profits on book sales are deposited directly into their bank account.

Authors pay the cost for print copies of their books. Traditional publishers and indie publishers (like Illumify) hold on to the original files for all their books so they can make a profit by selling print copies back to the author.

The going rate publishers across the board charge is 50% of the book’s retail price. So if your book retails for $18.99, they’ll charge you $9.50 per book plus shipping.

With Illumify, your cost to print and deliver the very same book is about $4 less.

Because we place our authors on their own publishing platform, they can order books at cost without even going through us.

I don’t know of one competitor that allows their authors to purchase their books at cost.

On large orders for that same book, your cost for printing and delivery could be as low as $3.41 per book.

How would you like to make a $15 profit for every print book you sell in person? This is why we can say…

Authors can make more money publishing with Illumify than anywhere else. You only need to sell as few as 500 copies of your book before your book sales begin seriously outpacing traditional royalties.

Authors keep the copyrights to their books from day one. If you want to do something really creative with your manuscript the day after we release your book—we’ll cheer for you!

Most of our competitors keep the rights to your book for a minimum of three years.

You have the final say on EVERYTHING. Don’t like the book cover? Let’s talk. Disagree with the copyeditor’s recommendations? No worries.

True Story…

My friend, William, wrote a book for his family, initially printing 15 copies. Two friends urged him to pitch it to traditional publishing companies, so he gave it the “old college try,” and was rejected 26 times.

Remember what I said about traditional publishing companies closing the door to authors who have something to say? Keep reading…

So, William decided to go the indie route and formed his own publishing company. With $200 in ad spending and word-of-mouth referrals, his book went viral and sold 10 million+ books.

If William’s book had been picked up by a traditional publisher, he would have made around $10 million. But because he decided to go the indie route, he made at least $30 million, and probably more.