One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other. Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.
This week’s topic is:
Self-publishing has made it easier to get your books out there for people to read and buy, but it isn’t for everyone and the idea and promise of traditional publishing houses remains the goal for many. Do you feel traditional hard-copy publishing is still feasible or realistic for new or emerging authors? Which publishing methods do you feel are best for your own work?
Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.
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Great topic, and one I’ve thought hard about for a long time. I self published my first book, but not before shopping it around to agents and publishers. I think the goal is to get traditionally published, at least for me, but self publishing is a fantastic option that I don’t think anybody should overlook.
The problem I have with traditional publishing is, they publish so much crap, yet won’t publish some terrific books that have to resort to self publishing. I don’t understand the balance there, but it happens. I’m not saying my first book was worth traditional publishing, but still. I’ve read some great self pubs that had to go that route because they couldn’t get published otherwise. I don’t know if it’s because their cover letters or their pitches were terrible, or they were just looked over, or what, but I do understand that traditional publishers have to be getting bajillions of submissions on a regular basis and it has to be hard to keep up.
Yet, I think the biggest problem is the options. To go the traditional route, you have to sift through hundreds of agents and dozens of big name publishers to not only find who MIGHT take your story, but who will even give it a first glance. It is a terrible job that most of us don’t have the patience for. And the problem with self publishing is, it’s so easy to do.
There seems to be no middle ground. Just because you’re traditionally published doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed sales, readers, the big fame and fortune, and just because a book is self published doesn’t mean it’s worthy of being read either. People look down on self pubs because anybody can do it, while some look down on traditional pubs because it’s like winning the lottery if even a great book is picked for publication. We all know the big ones, the likes of Stephen King and JK Rowling as well as many others, were overlooked and turned down in the beginning. How many other great authors are constantly being overlooked?
It’s a shame there’s no middle ground, but right now it appears there is none. So what do we do? Keep on keeping on. Keep writing, build that fan base as best you can, and do what you gotta do. If you’re going to self pub, put out the best possible work you can and hope it’s good enough to get everybody reading. Maybe in the long run the traditionals will see that and think twice about you. Or get lucky enough to be traditionally published and do what Alexandra Sokoloff did… get a fan base from traditional publishing and then go the self published route to take better control of your work. Her best stuff came out after she switched to self publishing, so it’s obvious she’s still putting in the work, only she has full control of her self, her works, and her business.
I’m intimidated by traditional publishing. All I’ve ever heard is that I’ll be eating rejection three meals a day while I try to find an agent. Self-publishing seems attractive for this reason, but I don’t think I’ll reach the market I want to see my book in.
My tentative plan now is to finish the book I’m working on and try to send it out to agents. If I don’t get a bite in a year or so, I’ll try it self-published. If that’s successful, it could help me get my second novel published traditionally. Any thoughts from the group?
I can only say for myself. Probably e-publishing would be OK, if I write something, but I feel that e-format is still under appreciated and also unable to reach many people. Later is debatable, of course. It all depend on marketing and reaching people. However, everyone remembers success of J.K.Rowling, when there were queues to buy her book. I was not keen on her book in the beginning, but queues convinced me to buy and I was “hooked”.
Traditional publishing is definitely still an option, but it is so d*** subjective. Gotta find the right person in the right mood with the right need–when does that happen? There are lots of great books self-pubbed because they couldn’t find that sweet spot.
I have every respect for those still trying to get traditionally published, or who have been. I wish you the very best. But not me, anymore. I tried for years to get my work noticed in the traditional publishing route, mainly to see that nobody was even reading my work. Straight to the slush pile. Currently, I have one short story and one YA novel indie published. I can say that, even though I haven’t experienced indi stardom as yet, I will likely never look to traditional publishing again. Here’s why:
1. In traditional Big 5 publishing (and let’s face it, smaller houses exist in very small numbers these days), publishers focus primarily on A-list and celebrity authors, giving them multi-million dollar advances in hopes that they’ll make that money back. Mid-list authors average (if any) about $1200 advances. Because traditional publishers don’t do a lot of marketing anymore, I’ll still be responsible to get my name out there. I may never see another penny, because if my book doesn’t take off, stores will send it back to the publisher.
In independent publishing, I can get beta readers and an editor for myself (I’m lucky enough to have friends who are professionals but will edit my work for free). I market my stuff, and I can both e-pub and offer print copies of my books.
2. In traditional publishing, you almost always have to have an agent (who takes a cut), then the publishing house (which takes a huge cut).
In indie publishing, I make a 35% to 70% royalty on every sale. Thus far, having my novel out for less than a month in e-book, and only a week in print, I have made only about $200 total in royalties. BUT – in traditional, my book would be accepted, but probably not even put out for another 18 months.
And, frankly, for very little marketing (i.e., just talking about it on social media), I’m feeling pretty good about the sales. I don’t expect to get much more until the next two books in the trilogy are out. But even if I don’t make a lot in the first year…my work is out there, and I’ve made more already than I would have, because my book is out – not sitting in a queue.
3. Control – I control my own work. My beta readers and editors make suggestions, but in the end, it’s mine.
4. Time. In traditional publishing, my book has a very narrow window of time to either be successful – or not. If it’s not an immediate success, stores will pull it from shelves. The traditional publisher will still own the copyright for however many years we contracted for. Which means, it’s dead until I get the copyright back. Even if my indie published book sells slowly, there is not time limit.
5. Reports are now attributing independently published authors making more on average than traditionally published books.
Anyway, mostly it’s having my own control over my books and over what I charge for them. I’m only on Amazon right now (Kindle and print through Amazon’s Createspace), but am headed out now to get it on Barnes&Noble, Kobo, Sony, and a few other places out there. 🙂