Why I'm Grateful for My Publisher & Traditional Publication

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Since this is the season of gratefulness, I decided to write a post about what I'm thankful for. But instead of the usual list that includes family, friends, and freedom (which is by no means insignificant!), I decided to share some of the reasons why I'm grateful for my publisher and traditional publication.

This isn't a bash against self-publishing by any means. I love that self-publishing has come of age. I know many successful self-published authors, and I'm genuinely excited to see the new options available to writers.

But in all the self-publishing hype over the past year or two, traditional publishing has come under a lot of criticism. And I see many writers now turning up their noses at the thought of going traditional.

Obviously, we all have to decide the right course for us. And for many writers self-publishing may indeed open a wealth of opportunities. But let's not forget that traditional publication still can offer writers many benefits too.

So in light of Thanksgiving, I've put together a list of why I'm grateful for my publisher, Bethany House Publishers. (Sidenote: Keep in mind that every publisher is different, and so what my publisher offers me, might vary with what other traditional publishers offer).

1. Top-notch editors. Of course I'm really biased! But I think I have the two best editors in the world. They're involved in every aspect of my book: brainstorming book ideas, going through my synopsis step-by-step (before I start a book), offering multiple pages worth of rewrite suggestions once I finish the first draft, and later combing through my manuscript for line and copy editing.

They even come up with title and cover suggestions, back cover blurbs, and marketing copy. Since they know my book so intimately, they're able to oversee coordinate every aspect of publication.

And to top all that off, my editors are incredibly encouraging and supportive. In fact, I just got rewrites back for my book that's releasing next fall of 2013. And to assuage my worries my editor said this:  

"Please don’t let this stress you out or take it too seriously. The review is just a tool, hopefully to guide the revision process and free up new avenues of looking at the story and its characters/conflicts . . . It’s not meant to deflate you or hurt your confidence but to energize your creativity to revise and improve what’s already in place." (I seriously wanted to give him a high five after reading that!)

2. Hard-working marketing department. Again, I'm really biased, but I think Bethany House has one of the best marketing departments out there. They put together a special marketing plan for each of my books months before the release date. And while they have their standard marketing venues, they also ask for my input for each book. They've been willing to try many of my suggestions and add them to the marketing budget for my book.

They've also done a fantastic job of looking at what my strengths are and trying to tailor the marketing plans to fit them. They don't pressure me to do things that I'm not fond of. And overall, they put an incredible marketing effort into each book so that I can't help but want to follow their example and work just as hard doing my part.

3. A savvy and strategic sales department. While I don't have as much contact with the Bethany House sales department, I have been really impressed by their ability to keep Bethany House books in brick and mortar stores even though shelf space is shrinking. They've also adjusted to selling books online, working to be savvy, strategic, and even trend-setting in their internet sales efforts.

4. A network of other Bethany House authors. While I'm incredibly grateful for all of my writer friends (life wouldn't be the same without you!), I find that having a family of authors in the same publishing house has been incredibly beneficial. I've been able to turn to some of those authors with specific questions or advice that's been invaluable. We also have an email loop where we can encourage one another, share good news, and ask questions, and that's been a blessing too.

Obviously there are plenty of other benefits to having a traditional publisher, and I've just touched the tip of the iceberg (and haven't even mentioned the outstanding cover design team and all of the other dedicated staff that work behind the scenes!). Overall, I've found that my publisher is interested in helping me develop into a career author, not a one-book wonder. And they have the skills and ability to help make that happen.

Do you think there are still benefits to traditional publication? What are they for you? And if you're opting to self-publish, what are the biggest benefits for you?

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday (and my efforts to finish writing a novel this month!), I won't be posting on Thursday. I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving! See you back here on Tuesday, Nov. 27.


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