Publishers held the cards and called the shots. Many hired readers, young twenty-somethings, to vet manuscripts. If by chance a reader thought a manuscript worthy, an actual editor would then deign to look it over. And that manuscript better be in tiptop condition, free of grammatical errors, and following specific guidelines as to format and topic, because many editors didn't have time to do full edits. So much simpler to receive an error free manuscript and set it up for production than to spend time actually editing.
Then, if a writer was fortunate enough to be among the chosen, input may or may not be allowed concerning the cover art. Even if suggestions were made by the writer, that didn't mean they'd be followed. You got your cover and you better be happy with it, unless you were a big-name author with lots of pull.
And, you wouldn't dare object to a release date as being such a long way off, even if it was almost two years away. And if your book didn't come out on the release date, you'd have to accept that inconvenience.
Also, if you were lucky, your publisher would send in Arcs for reviews, and mail you a few Arcs so you could garner reviews as well. If you were extremely lucky, a few magazine ads might also appear publicizing your book.
The upside was if it were a large publishing house, you'd get an advance, after which if you earned it out, you'd also receive royalties. A small publisher couldn't afford to pay you an advance, but you'd get a percentage of the sales as royalties, after all the expenses were first deducted.
Seeing your book in print, being paid anything at all for writing it, no matter how miniscule the amount, still made you feel validated. You'd finally made it as an author. People were actually reading what you wrote. Some of your advance and/or royalties you gladly socked away to cover your own advertising, travel and clothes expenses for book signings and special events to get your brand known. You happily attended conferences at your own expense because it was so much fun to be finally recognized as a published author.
That was then. This is now. There are still many authors who choose to go the old-fashioned way, for a variety of reasons, but many are jumping on the self-publishing bandwagon.
|Robert W Walker happily self-publishes|
|Morgan Mandel is a happy self-publisher|
It's a heady experience to be able to choose your own cover, either by devising one yourself, or by collaborating with a skilled professional. It's wonderful to know the book of your heart can get out to the public, even if it's about something publishers consider unmarketable. Not only that, it's your decision when to get it published, either electronically, such as on kindle, which is the most popular right now, and/or in print, through such avenues as Create Space and/or Lightning Source.
As a warning to the unwary, it's best not to get carried away with power. Don't think your manuscript is so great it doesn't need changing. You have the choice and means to provide a quality product, so don't get impatient. Take the time, make the effort and be sure to get a skilled editor to check your manuscript before you release it.