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Thread: traditional or self publish?
January 31st, 2015, 10:46 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jan 2011
traditional or self publish?
I've been researching one versus the other but I keep coming back to it's basically 50/50 as far as financial gain being a writer. The biggest difference lies in yes you can self publish whatever you want but you won't get any recognition unless it does phenomenal versus you have a extremely slim possibility getting your book published but if you do you have a big publishing company backing you so most likely you will sell more plus have a stronger reputation as author which has more long term potential. Now don't get me wrong I am not writing this simply for income, writing truly is a passion for me that I love to do, but my biggest issue is that I don't want my book being trashed simply because 2 or 3 people don't care for it. The world is a big place and it has a lot of people with different opinions and taste so I would hate for my book to be thrown away simply because only a handful of people didn't think it was worth it. I do realize that these people that read the books presented to them before they push them further up the line are chosen for their expertise on it but people make mistakes. This last statement is 80% the biased writer in me that thinks my story is great by the way like all up and coming authors. The other 20% of me does realize that it's not just my opinion or the few people I have let examine my writing that makes a difference, but more so the people that are in the position to make a call on this or that in hopes to make money. Whether this is money simply for them or money for the company as whole and I have no issue with that. To sum everything up I guess my biggest question is: "Do I start out trying to go with a established publishing company or self publish? or may perhaps if trying to get my book published traditionally doesn't pan out, should I just try to self publish? I mean a lot of work goes into writing a single novel, so do you just throw it in the closet somewhere because it didn't make it? or Do you say to hell with it and try to push forward self publishing? Sorry for the grammatical errors in this post by the way. My best friend harps on me for both lack of grammar as well as using it when it's not needed.
February 1st, 2015, 07:30 AM #2
There's been a million discussions, threads, articles, and rants about this for the last few years. There is no easy answer. You have to decide for yourself, but my advice is to be very careful about any contract you sign, things are changing very very fast.
February 1st, 2015, 09:44 AM #3
Very short answer.
Heh, never seen this discussed before. Got the time or want bragging rights? Go for the Big Five via an agent. Don't have the time or hate the hassle? Go for a small publisher. (my choice btw). Fearful of rejection or want control? Self Publish.
None are likely to make you rich these days. Same goes for being noticed. Both take time, talent, luck, connections, and anything else you want to toss in for flavor.
Self publishing can cost you. The rest won't if they're legit.
February 1st, 2015, 10:31 AM #4
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- Jun 2009
- Northern California
- Blog Entries
Are you done with your novel?
Revised the hell of it until it shines?
Sent it out to some beta-readers?
Revised some more and then toned your words to sing like the angels of heaven?
Then stop worrying about how it will be published and write it.
If you don't have anything to sell, then you really can't begin to worry about trying to sell it to a publisher or to the public.
When I finished my very first novel, I sent it to agents (poor slush readers ) and they all rejected it. I had an editor I respected take a look at it and she told me my work wasn't ready. It took a while for me to realize what she meant. And she was right. My work was not ready. Is yours? (If you are not sure, then it is not.)
February 1st, 2015, 10:52 AM #5
One versus the other
There are pros and cons to each. But the biggest things I don't miss about conventional publishing is the negativity associated with hunting for a publisher/agent. That phase of the process casts a dark shadow over writing, and doesn't help writer's block (or writer's dread.) Self publishing in the modern market gives you total control over everything, right down to the cover art and font.
However, self publishing means that you have to self market the book. You have to go out and find readers and shamelessly self promote your book at every opportunity*, and all over the digital world. You can't just post a book to amazon and expect to make any money...or even be noticed. There is a lotta work self marketing a book, but not nearly so negative as rejection letters.
But one factor in your favor is the Ebook. Due to their reduced price, people buy twice as many of the things. In fact, people won;t think twice about buying a book for $3.99 or $4.99. Hell, they spend that much on a Latte. but a printed book at $15 is another matter. Print is dead, but electronic books are spreading like ebola.
*On these forums, self-promotion is limited to the Promotion Zone.
Last edited by N. E. White; February 1st, 2015 at 01:27 PM. Reason: self-promotional link removed
February 1st, 2015, 11:22 AM #6
Interesting you compare ebooks to ebola because thats a lot how they have been seen and treated by many.
February 1st, 2015, 12:23 PM #7
February 1st, 2015, 11:45 PM #8
but my biggest issue is that I don't want my book being trashed simply because 2 or 3 people don't care for it.
To sum everything up I guess my biggest question is: "Do I start out trying to go with a established publishing company or self publish? or may perhaps if trying to get my book published traditionally doesn't pan out, should I just try to self publish? I mean a lot of work goes into writing a single novel, so do you just throw it in the closet somewhere because it didn't make it? or Do you say to hell with it and try to push forward self publishing? Sorry for the grammatical errors in this post by the way. My best friend harps on me for both lack of grammar as well as using it when it's not needed.
February 2nd, 2015, 12:15 PM #9
- Join Date
- Mar 2012
The downside of self-publishing is that you have to somehow connect readers to your book. I was doing OK in 2013 by just publishing ebooks on Amazon and letting them sink or swim, but since a few months ago I'm down to a handful of sales a month... seems something radically changed when they introduced their subscription scheme (and most of my ebooks aren't in it). The hope with a trade publisher is that they'll market your book to readers, but many now seem to be switching to a model where they publish any half-decent novels as ebooks and only do print runs for those which sell well.
February 2nd, 2015, 04:47 PM #10
- Join Date
- Mar 2009
- Los Angeles
As for the basic question, I'll echo Kat that every writer is different & so this decision must be different for each writer. Both roads to publication have pros & cons.
In my case I've self-published six books in both ebook & print-on-demand format. Very few POD books sold, though I still get one every few months. One for a field of six. Almost no ebooks sold through Barnes & Noble. Several dozen of each book have sold through Amazon and every week or two I sell another. In two years I've made barely $2000.
My seventh book is now going the rounds of agents. I decided to try that route for two reasons. Self-publishing is a lot of work. And this book (I believe/hope) is a step up in reader appeal and so more likely to gain an agent & publisher.
As for when to decide which road to follow, I think it's never too early to begin RESEARCHING all parts of the writing profession. Considering this particular question now is a smart thing to do. But making the DECISION as which road to follow should definitely follow after you've finished a book & made sure it's the absolute best you can create.
February 2nd, 2015, 06:01 PM #11
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- Dec 2014
- Frederick, MD USA
This disucssion is played out all across the internet every day probably.
My suggestion is that you look around at authors blogs. One impotant one to really spend some time in is the business blog by Kristine Kathryn Rusch:
She's brutally honest about the business side of traditional publishing from an author's point of view.
Self-publishing's darling Hugh Howey also has a very widely read blog on the subject, obviously from the pro-self-publishing side.
I've been round and round it for days and weeks at a time. My conclulsion is as follows (and it applies to any kind of publishing):
You're damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
Self-publishing puts ALL the responsibility on the author. You either have to shell out for, or spend the time and energy to learn/do marketing, book cover design, blurb writing, book formatting (eBook and/or print), online distribution, editing, proof reading...in addition to actually writing the books.
And when you finally do publish, youre book is the smallest little needle in an ever expanding galaxy of other books.
Traditional publishing puts ALL the power and most of the profits in the hands of ruthless capitalists who ultimately don't give a damn about you, your book, or the art of literature. You have to find and negotiate (probably horrible) contracts with both agents and publishers (both of which will likely take you years to secure). Then once you've contracted with them and handed over your book, you are at their mercy for when it gets actually published...again, could litterally be several years. For all of this you're likely to get a very small loan (aka an advance), which you have to pay back with the sales from your book (assuming there are any). But, since you're new, it's extremely unlikely they'll put any real money into advertising, marketing, or getting your book high visibility in bookstores. You'll still end up being relied upon to do most of your own marketing. You'll essentially be left on your own anyway. And how can you tell you're getting the actual royalty credit you deserve? Well, your cantract may stipulate that an annual audit be done. But most of the time you'd have to sue to actually have one done.
So, you're left with a choice between total control and total responsibility (and total annonymity) with very little capital...or exploitation by a capitalist machine that you have no control over (and which will put very little capital into it either).
As I said above: Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
But I'm not bitter.
[I'm self-publishing eBooks right now. If any capitalist machines want to chew me up and spit my books out, let's talk. But basically, at my age, I couldn't wait around to find an agent and publisher...I'd be into retirement age by the time an actual book came out!]
Last edited by Micah R Sisk; February 2nd, 2015 at 06:08 PM.
February 3rd, 2015, 12:43 AM #12
February 3rd, 2015, 01:07 AM #13
I have heard too many older, established writers say that the publishing companies are just basically out to screw you these days. Little to no promotion compared to what it used to be, and they have a lot of control over your art form and what they're going to do with it. I say make your book as good as it can be, make sure you love it, and then put it out there and promote yourself. All the time you would spend trying to convince agents and publishers to even look at your work would be better spent making connections to other people in the community, the people who will actually read your book.
February 3rd, 2015, 05:02 PM #14
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- Mar 2009
- Los Angeles
It's wise to be cautious about partnering with anyone, no matter how much you might trust them to be ethical. We each have to be smart business people. That's why aids such as Preditors & Editors and commenters such as Rusch are useful.
But it's foolish to go too far in the other direction, of assuming all publishers are evil exploiters. That is the mark of the na´ve.
For one thing, publishers are not clones of each other. Not all the Big Five, nor all the smaller publishers, are alike. We have to judge each one separately, as wise users of their services. It's unwelcome extra work for those of us who pursue a difficult profession, but necessary.
For another, if you examine each of the Big Five, you find (as I did recently) that hidden from most of us in each are in effect those supposedly super-virtuous "indie" publishers.
Some, such as DAW, were "indies" before being "parnered with" Penguin and have remained independent editorially. (They, for instance, still accept unagented submissions and usually report back within three months.)
Others have always been part of a larger group but still have a distinctive editorial staff and editorial focus. It's not unusual for a large publisher to contain more than one quasi-indie, one perhaps focusing on SF/F, another on horror, a third on romance, etc. I imagine Kat can give us more detail.
At least in the SF/F field it's not unusual to find that many editors who work for the Big Five are also long-time fans and regularly attend SF/F conventions where they can be very approachable. But our field IS unusual. For all I know mystery and romance publishers are completely different.