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To Be or Not To Be with a Publishing Company?

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

I’ve been a self published, “indie” author since 2012 and I’ve had offers from various publishing companies to sign with them. At this stage I’m wondering, “Should I?

I’m sure this is a dilemma many independent authors find themselves tackling with and I’m unsure whether I want to stay on my own for now or join a publishing company.

My books have being doing fairly well considering that I came in it with the sole intentions of my friends reading my first book Behind Closed Doors and it took off. After making some buzz on Amazon and getting into their top 100 list multiple times even making #1 a few times in its genre and topping out at #8 the most consistently, I decided to create a website  and write a sequel named Liar’s Ball.

Considering that I was a newlywed at the time and we were also purchasing a new house, my promotions for my 2nd book faltered a bit, but I still created a few marketing pictures, posted links and made appearances on some blog radio shows which kept the buzz going.

THIS year however; after releasing my 3rd book, When I’m Bad, I’m Better, I decided to promote my books and everything K.F. Johnson, full steam ahead! That included big marketing campaigns, book signing appearances, traveling for appearances and sales, attending author shows, awards and conventions, being more interactive on social media, etc.

Gratefully, stepping up my game has garnered me a decent amount of sales, a respectable amount of reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and other websites (between 33-85 reviews per book), a growing readership and numerous invitations to do more. With this, it’s put me on the radar for more publishing companies than I was previously.

I’ve been networking with authors, readers, marketers and publishers who’ve been sharing and filtering down vital and informative information to me which has made me wonder, “Do I want to be signed with a publishing company?

Supposedly, some of the PROS to signing with a publishing company could be:

They absorb the upfront costs of editing, distribution, design and printing

They will have an established relationship with a PR rep to establish connections with readers, bloggers, media, etc. to set up book tours and promote your books

Signing with them will “legitimize” your works value and their staff can assist in ensuring you’re putting out quality books.

You’ll have access to grants, awards and reviewers that traditionally ignore self published authors

Some publishers offer advances ($1000 and up)

They will do the administrative and financial contracting for your books by placing them in the correct genres, establishing your royalty percentages, assigning books ISBN, AIN#’s, etc.

Locations for distribution are expanded to shelves in book stores, libraries, numerous online stores including their own, etc.

All of the above should generate large sales and exposure for the author

Those things all seem great BUT, here are my CONcerns:

They have creative control over everything and can make decisions about your cover, the direction of your books, the description, the title and the format with or WITHOUT your consent in some cases.

Royalties will be less per sale (between 6%-25%) and may be paid out on a lengthy schedule (60 days, quarterly or twice a year)

They would have control over movies, audio books, etc. concerning your works and making those deals OR NOT.

Advances, if received, are given in expectation of sales and are deducted from royalties. If a book isn’t properly promoted, doesn’t sell well or the publisher discontinued print, that money is all you will receive.

What if I discover that I sold more books or made more money when I was on my own? Some of the author’s/books under a few publishing companies that have approached me didn’t appear to be doing any better than I’m doing on my own.

Some publishing companies want you to also have a separate agent. Is that something I want, need or can afford?

They are in control of book release dates (sometimes up to 18 months) or whether a book is released AT ALL. This could also include waiting while they promote other authors

Publishers can pull your book from print or discontinue printing at their own leisure

The author is typically STILL primarily responsible for marketing and promotions

Contracts are hard to change or break once you’ve entered into it.

Sooooo…with all of this being said, I’m still unsure as to what the best route is for my future. Maybe I just haven’t come across the right publishing company yet or maybe I am best off staying an indie author. I don’t know. 

What do you think? Are you an indie author or with a publishing company?

Chat and Network with K.F. Johnson on social media!


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