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View Full Version : “Trade” vs. “Traditional” Publishing



Laer Carroll
06-11-2013, 08:54 AM
I've been using the phrase trade publishing rather than traditional publishing for a couple of years now because AW guidelines suggested it.

However, I see plenty of people including agents, editors, and writers I respect using “traditional” when talking about trade publishing. So I'm a bit confused.

What is the difference, exactly? And why use one over the other?

shelleyo
06-11-2013, 10:07 AM
I've been using the phrase trade publishing rather than traditional publishing for a couple of years now because AW guidelines suggested it.

However, I see plenty of people including agents, editors, and writers I respect using “traditional” when talking about trade publishing. So I'm a bit confused.

What is the difference, exactly? And why use one over the other?

There's no difference. They're both referring to the same thing. Trade is the long-standing term, so you can't go wrong with it.

I think the term traditional started up fairly recently with crap outfits like Publish America that urged writers not to take the traditional path but publish with them. It has evolved, but I think many still see it as a derogatory term because of that, just as they may see the term indie as an inaccurate and self-congratulatory one.

A good rule of thumb is to stick with trade (the accurate, long-standing term for it, after all) unless you feel an overwhelming need to say traditional, and then still stick with trade when you're talking to people in the industry or those who will be quick to correct it. A little lurking anywhere you go will teach you the language of the place. When in Rome.

Terie
06-11-2013, 10:41 AM
I think the term traditional started up fairly recently with crap outfits like Publish America that urged writers not to take the traditional path but publish with them.

Actually, that's not correct. PublishAmerica coined the term and applied it to itself to dodge the fact that they're a vanity publisher. They're advertising is all about being a 'traditional publisher'.

Chris P
06-11-2013, 10:44 AM
Actually, PA bills itself as a "traditional publisher" in the sense that you don't need to pay upfront to be published (PA gets its money after the fact by selling books and publicity "services" to the author at outrageous--and not in the good way--prices). PA is hoping you see them as the same type of publisher you see in stores, which they most definitely are not.

"Commercial" might be equivalent to "trade" and is likely what agents and editors mean when they say "traditional," in the sense that it's not POD or self-pubbing. Any agent that sends a writer to PA or any vanity outlet (and I've heard of it happening!) deserves a sound drubbing. Do your homework on ANY agent or publisher before signing anything.

shelleyo
06-11-2013, 11:14 AM
Actually, that's not correct. PublishAmerica coined the term and applied it to itself to dodge the fact that they're a vanity publisher. They're advertising is all about being a 'traditional publisher'.

Ah, okay. I knew it had something to do with Publish America and their snake oil, just had it backwards.

Terie
06-11-2013, 11:57 AM
Ah, okay. I knew it had something to do with Publish America and their snake oil, just had it backwards.

The fact that PublishAmerica coined the phrase ought to put anyone off from using it! :D

But I also think that ChrisP is right that it's coming into use (by folks who don't know its original coinage) to mean 'publishing that isn't self-publishing' and sometimes 'publishing that isn't self-publishing or micropress publishing' and yet other times 'publishing that isn't self-publishing or e-only publishing'. In another AW thread over the weekend, someone even used it to mean 'exclusively Big 5 publishing', although that's not a common usage.

The fact that it can have so many different meanings should also put anyone off from using it simply because it's not clear what one means when one uses it.

Laer Carroll
06-12-2013, 04:58 AM
Thanks. Clears it up for me.

Old Hack
06-12-2013, 01:29 PM
There are a few links in the Guidelines (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=249332) which you could read, which explain it.