Partnership Publishing

The publishing industry has changed drastically over the years. The days of large, traditional publishers offering huge advances and flexing their marketing muscle for new books are rapidly winding down as the market shifts toward smaller, flexible independent publishers (similar to the music and movie industries). Large publishers today survive on a handful of hits while most books flounder with less-than-stellar sales. If you are lucky enough to receive a publishing agreement from a large, traditional house, the general expectation is that authors will still promote and market their own books in addition to having written them. So, why only receive 10% on sales when you have to do the bulk of the work yourself? Below is a comparison between the Bookpress partnership publishing model and the model used by traditional publishers.


Distribution and sales through traditional publishers occur primarily within four markets: Amazon 35%, Barnes & Noble 18%, Independent Bookstores 8%, and Miscellaneous Retail 39% (includes Target, Walmart, Costco, Sam’s, airports, etc.)1. Traditional publishers have exceptionally strong distribution networks with all forms of wholesalers and retailers. Books that are deemed to be potentially strong sellers (bestseller track) or have already shown demonstrated sales (and/or are already qualified as a bestseller) will definitely benefit from their networks.

However, a new, unproven book will only be guaranteed a place on Amazon (Bookpress Publishing books also appear on Amazon) since Barnes & Noble will only provide shelf space if they have evidence a book will sell. Shelf space is very limited for the hundreds of thousands of books coming out each year. Even if your book is granted shelf space, it will only remain for a maximum of a few weeks unless sales justify otherwise. Unless you are a bestselling or proven author or have enough support to convince the miscellaneous retailers to display your book (again, for only a few weeks unless sales dictate otherwise), your book will never appear there.

If your goal is to convince a traditional publisher to both carry and support your book, most authors are typically better off beginning with “partnership publishing.” By utilizing your personal distribution network, you will create a sales history that can be used as evidence of the book’s future potential. Also, within the Partnership publishing model, authors still have opportunities to market and distribute their books through the same channels used by traditional publishers.


Traditional publishers will typically support new books with adequate marketing dollars only if they believe the book has serious sales potential. Thus, proven, established authors are more likely to receive this marketing support rather than new, unproven authors. Even if they do market your book, it will only occur for a short period of time after which you will be responsible for your own marketing. Ultimately, 99% of your book’s success will hinge on your willingness to keep promoting it through social media, blogs, interviews, speaking, etc. Although Bookpress Publishing frequently markets and promotes new books though a variety of trade advertising, catalogs, and book expos, we can also assist and support you in your efforts through a variety of services including market planning, creation of marketing materials, advertising, etc. However, regardless of publisher, you will more than likely be required to aggressively promote the book yourself since no one will be more passionate about your book than you.


Once you sign a contract with a traditional publisher, you give up most of the control of your book including editing, design, distribution, etc. In fact, while they own the copyrights to your book during the contract period, they don’t have to actually publish it (or it may take an exceptionally long time to do so). At Bookpress Publishing, you retain full control of all aspects related to your book. In addition, we will provide coaching and guidance throughout the process to ensure your book results in a quality product.


Traditional publishers typically take 12-18 months (or longer) to complete a book. At Bookpress Publishing the production duration directly depends upon your goals and how much time it requires you to respond to editing feedback, rewrites, approvals, information requests, etc. However, most books at Bookpress Publishing are completed within 4-9 months.


Traditional publishers will occasionally provide advances (but typically not for new, unproven authors). Royalty amounts from traditional publishers usually range from 8-15% (10% is typical) for print and 20-25% for ebooks (there is little to no cost to a traditional publisher for ebooks, yet they take 75-80% of the profits). At Bookpress Publishing, we are a flat-rate, partnership publisher and we take NO profits from the sales of your book unless you are enrolled in our national distribution program, and even then the percentage is minimal. Thus, all or most sales revenue from your Bookpress book goes directly to you (less distribution fees to wholesalers, aggregators, etc. if enrolled in the national program).

For example, here is a comparison snapshot between publishing a book though Bookpress versus a traditional house based on a first-run of a 1,000 copies printed/sold of your new 128-page book:

A first-run of a 1000 copies are printed/sold of your new 128-page book...

Bookpress Publishing:

COST/INVESTMENT: $7.75 per hardback copy (typical first-run cost that includes editing, design, illustration, ISBN, LCCN, CIP block, formatting, and printing –reprints are typically 50-60% cheaper per unit – cost depends on a variety of factors including actual page count, number of edits beyond the first two, hardback versus soft cover, enrollment into the national distribution program, etc.)

At $19.95 per copy (representative retail price for a new hardback), you will need to sell 635 copies at full retail to break even. If the remaining 365 copies are then also sold at full retail, the result is approximately $7,282 in profit potential (however, some of the 365 are frequently given as samples, used as a promotional tool to sell a speaking engagement, or are sold at a lower wholesale amount through distributors for resale, thus lowering this amount).


Traditional Publisher:

COST/INVESTMENT: None (includes editing, design, illustration, ISBN, LCCN, CIP Block, formatting and printing). Publisher covers initial costs.

At $19.95 per copy (representative price for a new hardback), books will be sold at a wholesale rate of approximately $9.98 per copy (50% of retail – less if sold through Amazon). If you receive a typical 10% royalty, you will receive $1.00 on each book sold. Therefore, to receive the same profit potential ($7,282), the publisher would have to sell about 11.5 times the amount (7,282 copies) which would put you close to a bestseller status for many book listings. Also, for a traditional publisher to continue promoting your book, most of these copies must be sold within a few weeks to a couple of months. Does your book have bestseller appeal?


Like traditional publishers, Bookpress Publishing uses professional editors and you will receive no less than 2-3 content edits followed by 5-10 proof edits. Also, other professionals will be looped in to provide fresh reads of your book for immediate feedback. Book cover and content will be created by award-winning designers.

1. Reach, K. (2013, March 19). Independent bookstores doing better than ever in 2012. Retrieved December 8, 2014, from the Melville House Publishing website.