So this is a quick, rather spurious post full of some rambling thoughts. But this is where my brain is and I'm hoping for some feedback from folks on this. It's an intriguing topic…
What are the arguments for pursuing traditional royalty-paying publishing? Some I know of are professional editing, design, & production. And these are usually great b/c corporate publishers tend to have some top-notch professionals. Of course, they're also overworked and understaffed these days, and they are working on dozens of books a year, so it's usually the most expensive projects that get the most attention. This holds all the way down the line too: sales and marketing, publicity and promotion. And with these, there's also the growing public disinterest in traditional advertising and selling methods. Big authors can do better on their own, why not small ones? Same principles for each.
Maybe a key is distribution. I know this can be a big one for mid-list authors who've maxed out what they can fulfill on their own. But with PDQ (check out Dan Poynter on this) and some great partnerships with self-publishers by the top distributors now, I'm not sure even this reason holds much anymore.
Advances can be nice, but they're really just loans and you pay them back out of your own royalties. And usually, you won't make it back as a new author, so you're out for any future deals. And if you do make it back, your royalty rate is lower than it would have been with a smaller or self publisher, so are you really better off with an advance? Most of the time, I'd have to say I've seen it being more of a liability to authors than a help.
Being on the shelves at B&N is a big draw. This is the cache reason. And I get it. It's not fun to have a book out no one can go and get at a bookstore. But just because it isn't stocked on the shelf doesn't mean they can't get it, and if people go in asking for your book, how many times do you think it takes for them to realize they may need to stock it? Maybe you can have friends in strategic places around the country help you out with this and save the hassle of hiring a publisher with a sales force.
What are some others I'm forgetting?