PublishHER Podcast Episode 95: Which route to publishing is right for you? with Carol Saller

PublishHER Podcast Episode 95: Which route to publishing is right for you? with Carol Saller

Are you a good candidate for self-publishing or should you consider traditional or hybrid? Carol Saller gives her advice on the different routes to publishing, tips for self-publishing, tips for submitting to an agent, and more.

Just when Carol Saller thought her publishing journey had reached a dead end, she stumbled upon the unexpected twist that would change everything. But what she discovered about self-publishing will surprise you. Are you ready to hear her story?

If you're in a hurry to get your book out, self-publishing allows you to move ahead and take control. – Carol Saller

When considering self-publishing, it's important to understand the various types of writers who may benefit from this route.

About Carol Saller:

Carol Saller’s books include The Subversive Copy Editor and several books for children. A career copyeditor at the University of Chicago Press, she now serves as contributing editor to The Chicago Manual of Style and writes for the manual’s Shop Talk blog. In the past, she was a senior editor of children’s books for Front Street/Cricket Books.

To help writers understand the writer-editor relationship and prepare their manuscripts for submission, Carol has given keynotes, sessions, and workshops at national, regional, and local conferences, serving as faculty at Novelists, Inc., Midwest Writers Workshop, and the Willamette Writers Conference. She guest lectures for the University of Chicago Graham School’s publishing program and has appeared on Chicago’s PBS news program Chicago Tonight as well as at writers' events, bookstores, panels, webinars, and workshops on writing, editing, and publishing.

Carol’s young adult historical novel Eddie’s War was named a Best Book of the Year by Bankstreet and Kirkus Reviews, and a Best of the Best Fiction for Teens by the Chicago Public Library. Her picture book The Bridge Dancers received the Carl Sandburg Award for Children’s Literature. George Washington Carver was a NCSS/CBC Notable, and Pug, Slug, and Doug the Thug was a main feature on PBS Storytime television. Now in its second edition, The Subversive Copy Editor was Publishers Weekly Online’s starred “Pick of the Week.”

In this episode, you will learn to:

  • Uncover the advantages and drawbacks of self-publishing compared to traditional publishing.
  • Emphasize the significance of quality, copy-editing, and book design in the realm of self-publishing.
  • Grasp essential marketing expertise for self-publishing and grammatical knowledge needed for traditional publishing.
  • Recognize the importance of adhering to submission guidelines and the role of copy editors.
  • Discover the valuable insights within The Chicago Manual of Style on writing and style.


Preparing a Manuscript

A crucial element of both traditional and self-publishing is creating a polished, professional manuscript. This involves careful editing, proofreading, formatting, and ensuring that the work adheres to the chosen style guide. The author should also research the submission guidelines for the target publisher or platform to ensure their manuscript complies with those standards. By taking the time to properly prepare the manuscript, writers increase the chances that their work will be well-received and taken seriously by publishers or readers. During her conversation with Alexa Bigwarfe, Carol Saller discusses the importance of a good copy editor in improving the readability and consistency of a manuscript. She points out that copy editors can also provide formatting services upon request, ultimately helping the author prepare their work for submission. Carol further emphasizes the significance of following the recipient's guidelines when submitting, as failure to do so can result in a negative impression. She also suggests having others read the manuscript prior to submission to ensure it is polished and consistent with the chosen style.

Key Takeaways

  • Examine the key differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing in terms of benefits and limitations.
  • Recognize the crucial role of quality, copy-editing, and appealing book design in successful self-publishing.
  • Develop essential marketing and grammatical skills to conquer both the self-publishing and traditional publishing worlds.
  • Explore the value of following submission guidelines and utilizing the skills of copy editors.

Memorable Moments:

00:04:08 – Five Categories of Writers for Self-Publishing,
Carol Saller discusses the five types of writers who are good candidates for self-publishing: celebrities/social media stars, business owners, writers of genre fiction, writers who want to print a book for personal reasons, and writers who are in a hurry.

00:09:45 – Factors to Consider,
Carol Saller mentions additional factors that should be considered when deciding between traditional and self-publishing, such as the need for tech support, desire for cachet, and the difficulty of marketing quiet literary fiction.

00:17:34 – Formatting in Manuscripts,
Copy editors often offer formatting services or as an add-on service. Manuscripts require proper formatting to easily convert into the coded product. It is important to ask if a copy editor includes formatting and negotiate this service.

00:20:05 – Mistakes in Manuscript Preparation,
Not researching the recipient's guidelines is a big mistake. It shows a lack of respect and professionalism. Always follow formatting conventions, such as double spacing, page numbers, and using a standard font. Have your work read and edited by others for consistency and readability.


WIP Summit Webinar Series: Jennifer Wilkov – How to Publish Your Book / The 5 Ways to Publish Your Book

WIP Summit Webinar Series: Jennifer Wilkov – How to Publish Your Book / The 5 Ways to Publish Your Book

How to Publish Your Book / The 5 Ways to Publish Your Book

Our  April guest expert is Jennifer Wilkov, of Your Book is Your Hook.

In this free webinar, discover how to:

  • How to determine the right way to publish your project
  • What is required to publish each type of book
  • The basics for writing effective books that sell
  • The secret to using your book as your “hook” in your industry, business, organization, project or career
  • Fool-proof ways to master networking introductions with your book inside and outside of the publishing industry
  • Proven techniques to use your book to reach TV producers and the media
  • Top strategies to leverage your book for various audiences, opportunities and markets

Presenter Bio: Jennifer S. Wilkov Media personality, host and executive producer of the popular podcast show “Your Book Is Your Hook!”, Jennifer is a multi #1 international best-selling award-winning author, an award-winning freelance writer, a columnist, the Literary Agent Matchmaker™ and a respected book & business consultant in her business by the same name, “Your Book Is Your Hook!” She supports first time and seasoned authors and writers with the writing, getting published and marketing of their book ideas and projects as well as the building of their platform to raise their visibility to readers, Hollywood and the media.

Register now!

Register here:

Diversity in Publishing

Diversity in Publishing

The discussion of diversity in publishing has been happening for years behind closed doors, but 2020 was a breakthrough year in the publishing industry. There were several big “scandals” around equal pay and representation in the publishing industry that came to light, creating some really interesting conversations for those of us who care about both the state of the publishing industry AND who advocate for fair representation of marginalized voices.

2020 was a big year for the conversation around diversity in publishing.

If you haven't been following all of the recent events, let's get you up to speed. Back in January 2020, the acclaimed publisher, Lee & Low, put out their Diversity Baseline Survey 2.0. It was a follow-up to their often-cited 2015 survey, which really got conversations about representation and inclusion in publishing kicked into high gear. The company shared the 2019 results, explaining why they’d begun this work in the first place:

Before the DBS, people suspected publishing had a diversity problem, but without hard numbers, the extent of that problem was anyone’s guess. Our goal was to survey publishing houses and review journals regarding the racial, gender, sexual orientation, and ability makeup of their employees; establish concrete statistics about the diversity of the publishing workforce; and then build on this information by reissuing the survey every four years.

The results weren’t encouraging. Even after 4 years of activity that an optimistic person would imagine might move the needle – things like Drag Queen Story Hours popping up nationwide, the #ownvoices movement gaining steam after American Dirt was published, the industry remained largely white in traditionally published books.

Everyone in this industry went into 2020 knowing that we had work to do. But we really had no idea…

When #PublishingPaidMe broke last summer, exposing the massive gap between what white and Black authors were paid, it shocked a LOT of my colleagues, even the ones who knew it was bad. I mean, imagine paying N.K. Jemisin, one of the most award-winning, critically acclaimed, reliably bestselling authors less of an advance than some complete unknown first-time white novelist? It seems like bad ethics AND bad business!

In 2020, it seemed like America was finally ready for a real conversation about Black Lives and justice. Black authors’ books rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists. By the end of 2020, did all this conversation change much? We won’t see more hard data for a while, but a November 2020 survey from Publisher’s Weekly reported that 75% of publishing employees said they’d seen a definite increase in diversity programs and efforts over the last year. The initiatives mentioned covered everything from recruiting more BIPOC, LGBTQIA and disabled employees at every level, to running DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) training and forming DEI committees in house.

But there are other bigger changes in the works that impact all of us. For example, in a recent meeting with an agent, she mentioned that many publishers of middle grade books are not interested in even looking at books if they don't have a “diverse” character base. While this may not be true for all genres or at all publishing houses, it's important to know if your targets fall into this category.

Another positive outcome came in the hiring process for publishing companies. We saw high profile publishing jobs going to Black and POC candidates. Seeing brilliant, exciting elevations like Dana Caneday at Simon & Schuster is certainly encouraging. It’s also promising to see new imprints popping up, led by BIPOC and focused on authors of color.

But what about the very simple, very important goal of getting more books published by people who are Black, disabled, queer, Hindi, Asian, trans, Latinx, Muslim and all the other diverse identities that make up our wide world of authors with something to say? Having publishing gatekeepers – at all levels – start to look more like our diverse nation is a start, but the rest might depend on us.

How can we help increase diversity in publishing?

It might depend on us as readers – we have to demand more books and make profitable (read: buy!) more books from underrepresented folks.

It might also depend on us as authors – we have to keep writing, getting our books out there, disrupting the system, and challenging the traditional gatekeepers.

We’ll be diving into all of this at our March 30 roundtable on Diversity in Publishing. We are welcoming some of our favorite indie and traditionally published authors to discuss the challenges, the joys and the work ahead to stock a more diverse bookshelf for everyone. Register here, and even if you can’t make it, we’ll send the replay your way!

So, tell us – what’s the one book by an author from an underrepresented group that is a MUST READ? We want to hear from you (and restock our bookshelves)!

Diversity in Publishing roundtable

Is Hybrid Publishing Right For You?

Is Hybrid Publishing Right For You?

Is hybrid publishing right for you? In between self publishing and being traditionally published is the hidden gem of hybrid publishing. At in a previous Women In Publishing Summit, we sat down with Brooke Warner the founder of She Writes Press, a hybrid publishing house and asked her to explain some of the finer details of this publishing model.

What Is Hybrid Publishing?

Hybrid publishing has become a catch-all term for the type of publishing that is found in the gray zone between self publishing and being traditionally published. She Writes Press vets their projects, charges a publishing fee, offers higher royalties and has traditional distribution. Some hybrid publishing houses might not have traditional distribution or charge a fee. There are different models that fall within hybrid publishing, making it important to research and understand the publishing before you made a decision.

Who Is Hybrid Publishing For?

Hybrid publishing is a great fit for an author who has a great book but lacks the platform that most traditional publishing houses require. One of the things a traditional publishing house wants to know is that they’ll be able to sell your book and therefore consider your author platform when they decide if they’d like to work with you. The look to see if you’ve got a website, active social media channels with followers, an email list, a podcast or have a Ted Talk under your belt.

I mean, someone could easily come to us and say, ‘I have a really great book, I have no social media presence, no website, no anything’ and what we do is we assess the book, if in fact they do have a great book, then we also offer an opportunity to build platform, because a book builds a platform,” says Brooke.

What It Is Like To Work With A Hybrid Publishing House?

This is how the process of working with a hybrid house works at She Writes Press. Their submission process is different than a traditional house where a book is submitted to an editor or agent who has to consider the size of your author platform, if your book is right for their list or if they already have something similar. If you get a “no” from them, that’s it.

When a manuscript comes in, you’re assigned a project manager who shepherds the book through the process. They give their authors a one page assessment providing feedback; if it’s publish ready, if it needs a copy edit, if it needs developmental editing or coaching. When you work with a hybrid, you’ll receive a lot of support, feedback, education and perhaps even some hand holding if necessary.

A hybrid also handles the data and distribution of the book and will be able to advise you on how to handle publicity for your book. Some hybrids offer in house publicity and some do not, however they’ll be able to advise you on how to spend marketing dollars for your book (or not). “It really depends on if the book is a legacy project and what the author’s goals are. However, the more publicity you have behind your book, the more we can push distribution,” says Brooke.

What Is The Benefit To Hybrid Publishing Over Self Publishing?

One of the biggest benefits to working with a hybrid house is that they may have access to distribution the way that traditional publishing houses do, making it easier to get your book into bookstores.

Additionally, self-published authors don't qualify for traditional reviews published in places such as Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Library Journal. These reviews really carry a lot of weight and a good review will contribute to sales, especially from libraries.  

What is The Benefit To Hybrid Publishing Over Traditional Publishing?

There are many benefits to choosing hybrid publishing over traditional, but we have three favorites. Remember that each hybrid house follows their own model so this may vary a bit depending on who you’re working with.

  1. You’re likely to have more creative control over your book and be able to be part of the decision process when it comes to book cover design and interior design.
  2. You don’t have to wait to build your author platform before you publish your book. You can work on both at the same time.
  3. You’ll receive feedback, education and experience more collaboration than working with a traditional house.

Hybrid publishing is a great next step for someone who has already self published a book and is ready to publish another, someone who doesn’t yet have an author platform but has a great book they’d like to publish or for someone who wants additional feedback or control in their book’s process. To learn more about which publishing model is right for you, check out the Publishers' Panel from the 2019 Women in Publishing Summit. 

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