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Tettsuo
09-08-2012, 01:14 AM
I've been reading this forum for a few months now off and on, getting all of the valuable insight of the professional here, but there's something missing and it's a very simple question I haven't seen answered clearly yet.

Why sign with a publisher at all?

At the moment, I'm putting the finishing touches on my first sci-fi novel and I'm still not sure of what direction I'll take my baby. I've read all the virtues of self-publishing, but I've yet to get the full breakdown on the other side of the coin. Outside of personal validation (which I don't really care about) I see no reason to go the traditional route of sending out queries and signing with agents in the hopes of landing a deal. I mean, I can fork over the cash for an editor and I've already lined up a friend who is a great graphic artist to produce a cover for me. So is there anything beyond that I'd need to enlist the aid of a publisher? Seriously, as a first timer, I don't expect to get much or any publicity from a publisher for my first novel, so that's out the window.

Sure, I think I'll be cool to sign with a publisher, but beyond the cool factor... why?

I'd love some enlightenment on the topic.

Ken
09-08-2012, 01:37 AM
... the traditional route offers the potential for a wider audience, for one thing. If a writer writes something good they'll want to share it with others. That's sort of a given, I'd suppose. Readers will also want to read it. Looked at from the perspective of readers it's kind of unfair to go the self-pub route as a writer will be making it difficult for readers to get their book and enjoy their story. It's likely they may never even find out about it. Ultimately, the choice is the writer's of course. If they're fine with self-pub'ing then that's all that really matters.

shadowwalker
09-08-2012, 01:43 AM
I can only speak for myself, but the number one reason for me is that I do not want to be a publisher. I do not want to trust my own editing to be totally objective or at a professional level (I know better); I do not want to hope I can find not only a good cover artist but one that understands the marketing aspects of cover art; I do not want to put cash out of pocket for editing, cover art, distribution, printing, etc (because I don't have it); I do not want to spend time and energy on marketing or promotion (because I hate social media and don't want to spend fruitless hours finding someone of good repute willing to review my book); I want my book available in print, ebook, audio; I want my book available overseas; and finally, because I want to spend my time writing, not publishing.

Persei
09-08-2012, 01:44 AM
Basically, if you are fine with self-pubbing and doesn't give a damn about validation, the only thing you might worry about it's the audience. Publishing traditionally will give you more audience and larger marketing (not to mention you won't have to do it by yourself) but...

It's up to you, really.

Amadan
09-08-2012, 02:20 AM
Sure, I think I'll be cool to sign with a publisher, but beyond the cool factor... why?


The money, and the number of people who read your book (or even hear of it) will almost certainly be much larger if you are professionally published.

James D. Macdonald
09-08-2012, 02:36 AM
Seriously, as a first timer, I don't expect to get much or any publicity from a publisher for my first novel, so that's out the window.

Seriously, say what?

All legitimate publishers publicize all of their works.

Aside from the editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover art, distribution, marketing, publicity, and the imprimatur that commercial publishing places on a work (a guarantee that someone besides the author, his mom, and his sock puppets liked it; that it won't fall apart in the last quarter; that there's something like a story inside), there's the guaranteed cash up front instead of hoped-for cash ... someday.

girlyswot
09-08-2012, 03:32 AM
I have self-published and worked with a publisher. The benefits of the publisher for me are: editing, editing, editing. Also professional typesetting, cover art, etc. And a LOT of publicity that they work with me on. They set up blog tours, send out review copies, pay for some ads and more. But the editing is the big deal for me. If you can hire a really good editor who'll work with you on more than just line crits, then go for it. But don't kid yourself that the manuscript you have now is as good as it can be or as good as it needs to be to sell.

AnneGlynn
09-08-2012, 03:32 AM
My partner likes to read books about Hollywood and he doesn't care who has published them. His latest fave is a self-published book by a Hollywood showrunner. He tells me it's great.

He also likes to read science fiction. But, in this case, he pays a great deal of attention to the publisher. He says there is too much bad sf being self-published and small press published. He wants the brand name.

Of course, that's only one reader but I think you'll find a number of sf fans that say something similar.

Katie Elle
09-08-2012, 04:47 AM
Aside from the editing, copy editing, proof reading, cover art, distribution, marketing, publicity, and the imprimatur that commercial publishing places on a work (a guarantee that someone besides the author, his mom, and his sock puppets liked it; that it won't fall apart in the last quarter; that there's something like a story inside), there's the guaranteed cash up front instead of hoped-for cash ... someday.

I think you forgot. We "self publishers" also have cooties.

BenPanced
09-08-2012, 04:55 AM
I can only speak for myself, but the number one reason for me is that I do not want to be a publisher. I do not want to trust my own editing to be totally objective or at a professional level (I know better); I do not want to hope I can find not only a good cover artist but one that understands the marketing aspects of cover art; I do not want to put cash out of pocket for editing, cover art, distribution, printing, etc (because I don't have it); I do not want to spend time and energy on marketing or promotion (because I hate social media and don't want to spend fruitless hours finding someone of good repute willing to review my book); I want my book available in print, ebook, audio; I want my book available overseas; and finally, because I want to spend my time writing, not publishing.
This10. I know my limitations, my strengths, and my faults. I make a better doorstop than I do a businessman.

veinglory
09-08-2012, 04:56 AM
I signed with a publisher because I don't have the skill, access or funding they do--and I am not interested in developing it.

thothguard51
09-08-2012, 05:47 AM
There are pluses and minuses on both sides of this debate. In the end, it really depends on the individual writer's goals...

The only thing I can say about self publishing; is that just like querying agents and editors before a writer and his/her book is ready, so to is my opinion about many of the self published books I have read, or tried to read. They were not ready for prime time.

Disclaimer...I am not saying all self published books are not ready, just the majority of those I have read.

James D. Macdonald
09-08-2012, 09:39 AM
I think you forgot. We "self publishers" also have cooties.

We do?

My first self-published work was in 1978.

My most recent was in July of this year.

blacbird
09-08-2012, 11:57 AM
I've been reading this forum for a few months now off and on, getting all of the valuable insight of the professional here, but there's something missing and it's a very simple question I haven't seen answered clearly yet.

Why sign with a publisher at all?

Ummmm . . . because, IF A PUBLISHER ACCEPTS YOUR WORK,, they can market it a shitload better than you can out of the trunk of your car.

caw

J. Tanner
09-08-2012, 12:16 PM
Sure, I think I'll be cool to sign with a publisher, but beyond the cool factor... why?

It's highly unlikely they'll sell a book a week or less. With self-pub, there is a very real chance you will.

You'll get to see first-hand what professional editing does to a book at no cost/risk to you.

You'll have access to an audience that's currently inaccessible to self-pub: bookstores.

For an unestablished writer--they can typically build an audience more effectively even if the book isn't a major success.

In the end, trade publishing may not be the right option or an option at all for you with this particular book--but if it is an option, it's very much one worth at least considering.

Marian Perera
09-08-2012, 02:19 PM
I mean, I can fork over the cash for an editor

I didn't have money to spend up front, so I was happy to have a publisher take care of the editing, cover art, etc. Plus, that way I ended up depositing checks instead of writing them out.

bearilou
09-08-2012, 03:59 PM
I've been reading this forum for a few months now off and on, getting all of the valuable insight of the professional here, but there's something missing and it's a very simple question I haven't seen answered clearly yet.

Not meaning to sound like a bitch, (no really, but I can't find a way to more eloquently phrase it) but you must not read very deeply in the threads then.

Whenever someone starts yet another conversation of the Great Trade vs Self Debate, many of the experienced people here will post comment breaking down most of the misconceptions about trade publishing and what the benefits and drawbacks are. It's not some well-kept secret. It's discussed here all the time.

kaitie
09-08-2012, 06:17 PM
Pretty sure we had one two days ago. It's covered often enough that anyone who read more than the diary threads would see them, I'd think.

I'd suggest reading the threads around here more thoroughly. Then go read the Ask the Agent threads, and the Roundtable threads, and so on. This information is more than out there. Considering we get asked questions like this on a regular basis, it's pretty in your face.

Sheryl Nantus
09-08-2012, 07:07 PM
I'm rather tired of saying the same thing over and over - so let's turn it around.

Tettsuo - why do you think authors sign with a publisher? What do you think their reasoning is to sign a contract with a publisher?

:)

Undercover
09-08-2012, 08:09 PM
Tettsuo, I hate to be gross but you've been here a year now and have what? Not even a hundred posts? I am in agreement, read more, post more questions about the publishing industry, and research better too.

As others have said, you'll get a better audience, won't have to pay, and a lot more things out of traditional publishing. I suggest researching publishers and agents more and looking at what they have to offer. It really all boils down to money. Do you wanna toss it out there and risk it, or take it from the publisher? Self-publishing is a big risk. Besides the point, you don't even sound like you care about readership. Sounds to me you just want it slapped together with cover art and pay an editor to make it all pretty. You don't expect any publicity? What do you mean you don't care who reads it? What's the point of publishing it at all then?

Al Stevens
09-08-2012, 08:35 PM
Trade-published = cash advance (aka positive cash flow)
Self-published = out-of-pocket expenses (aka negative cash flow)

"Who doesn't like more money?"

Undercover
09-08-2012, 08:45 PM
"Who doesn't like more money?"

baby. lol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME5NJj_iEbw

bearilou
09-08-2012, 08:48 PM
"Who doesn't like more money?"

baby. lol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ME5NJj_iEbw

I hadn't seen that one.

:ROFL:

shaldna
09-08-2012, 10:21 PM
Why sign with a publisher at all?

Okay, before I address the rest of your post, I'll address this point.

Why sign with a publisher? Well, unless you have the marketing, financial, graphical, typographical, editorial, promtional skills needed, then you're gonna need to hire someone to do that for you should you SP.

In addition - by self publishing you lose out on a massive income stream and promotional opportunity - in store placement.

When my first book came out my folks were on a six week tour of the US. They stopped at every bookstore they came across and when that store stocked my book, they took a picture of themselves with it. If I'd self published that book, they would have had a 2-6 week wait to order that book from a book store.



At the moment, I'm putting the finishing touches on my first sci-fi novel and I'm still not sure of what direction I'll take my baby. I've read all the virtues of self-publishing, but I've yet to get the full breakdown on the other side of the coin. Outside of personal validation (which I don't really care about) I see no reason to go the traditional route of sending out queries and signing with agents in the hopes of landing a deal.

Okay, so don't.

I hate to break it to you, but no one is going to cry over your choice. That's a personal thing that's up to you and no one can tell you what to do.

I would say, though, what other validation is there than someone likeing you work enough to pay for it - be that a publisher or a reader?

If you are simply wanting something out there and dont' care about sales or reader numbers, then sure, go for self publishing. If you want to reach a wider audience, unless you have serious marketing, sales and promotion skills, then you are going to struggle with SP.



I mean, I can fork over the cash for an editor and I've already lined up a friend who is a great graphic artist to produce a cover for me. So is there anything beyond that I'd need to enlist the aid of a publisher?

Make sure your editor is a good editor with a good track record. Don't hire a first timer of Craigslist or Gumtree.

You'll also need to be looking at marketing and promotion - as a self published author you can kiss goodbye to bookstore placement. Although, you may find that some local mom'n'pop stores MIGHT stock your book, but the chains and supermarkets and stores out of town - no.




Seriously, as a first timer, I don't expect to get much or any publicity from a publisher for my first novel, so that's out the window.

To be honest it sounds like you've been reading a lot of crap from the SP advocate camp - they like to believe that publishers don't promote new/midlist/genre/female/male/young/old/blah blah blah authors - but to be honest, and I say this as someone who has published both trade and self, and is married to a publisher - no one wants to lose money on a book. You're work will be promoted to the extent that the publisher believes it need.

The issue with this is when low selling authors get shitty because they aren't getting national billboards and prime time ads - but this is because their books just aren't good enough or commercial enough to warrant that expense.

Folks need to be realistic about their work. I know that most folk like to think their work is NYT bestseller, Oprah Bookclub, Pulitzer standard. But to be honest, most books will never reach that status.


Sure, I think I'll be cool to sign with a publisher, but beyond the cool factor... why?

The vast majority of SP authors sell in double digits. So if you aren't going to be one of the SP megastars, then you might want to think about a publisher and what they can do for you that you can't do for yourself.




I'm rather tired of saying the same thing over and over - so let's turn it around.

Tettsuo - why do you think authors sign with a publisher? What do you think their reasoning is to sign a contract with a publisher?

:)

I would second this.

Medievalist
09-08-2012, 10:33 PM
Because I get paid an advance while I write the new book, and royalties on the previous books, and all I'm responsible for is writing.

I don't have to typeset, design, hire editors, compositors, or indexers, or market my book.

And my publisher makes my book available in multiple forms, including by subscription, and sees that my books are translated into Japanese, Persian, Chinese, Spanish, French and German. And I get royalties for all of those copies.

amergina
09-08-2012, 10:50 PM
I chose an e-book publisher because:

1) I know I need to be edited. I also edit, but I have BIG FAT BLINDERS when it comes to my work, since I can peer into my own mind and know what I meant... while the reader can't.

2) I suck as a graphic artist and the folks I signed with are experienced with the types of covers that sell well in the genre.

3) I'm a new author, but the publisher is established and well-known for putting out good books in this particular genre. Readers will take a chance on new authors with an established and respected e-publisher.

4) I don't want to deal with the formatting and typesetting for the different e-platforms.

5) I work full-time at a day job. In the free time I have, I'd rather be writing or editing. Doing self-publishing to the quality I would want to would eat up all my spare time. If someone is willing to take the risk and do much of the work for me, then why not? Yes, I could get more royalties doing it myself, but then I assume all the risk as well as all the work. I'd rather let someone else shoulder the risk, and some of the work that I'm not good at for part of the royalties.

Cyia
09-09-2012, 02:28 AM
Today's thread is brought to you by the letter "Y."




Why sign with a publisher at all?

Let's see if we can elucidate on this one, shall we?


At the moment, I'm putting the finishing touches on my first sci-fi novel

Yay! I love sci-fi.


and I'm still not sure of what direction I'll take my baby.

book =/= baby. One requires regular feeding and diapers, which makes it a bit like an ego, but nothing like a book ;)


I've read all the virtues of self-publishing, but I've yet to get the full breakdown on the other side of the coin. Outside of personal validation (which I don't really care about) I see no reason to go the traditional route of sending out queries and signing with agents in the hopes of landing a deal.

Validation is the small potatoes portion of the publishing package. The advance, experience, and benefit of association with a known brand are much more important.


I mean, I can fork over the cash for an editor

What kind of editor? They're not all the same. There are content edits, for things like continuity and weeding out redundancies, and then there are copy edits for grammar issues. Someone who's great at finding plot holes may not be skilled at finding dropped commas or homophones. And someone who can copy edit with the best may not be reading for the details of the story so much as the details of the words used to tell it.

Also, with a publisher, the cost of editing is $0.00 for the writer. That editor will have an extra stake in making the book shine, unlike a freelancer who will still want to do the best he/she can, but doesn't work for the company putting the book out.


and I've already lined up a friend who is a great graphic artist to produce a cover for me.

Make sure they're familiar with the sort of covers that sell well in your chosen genre. You need a cover that will draw sci-fi readers in and make them read your blurb or "look inside" pages.


So is there anything beyond that I'd need to enlist the aid of a publisher?

First off, you don't "enlist" a publisher. Publishers make offers on books they think they can sell. They're not an "aid."

They have access to book stores and can deal with online marketplaces for premium placement for their titles.

They have people dedicated to formatting ebooks to make them the best they can be. They can make "enhanced" ebooks. They do book trailers. They do all sorts of things that would completely eat a writer's time if the writer tried to go it alone.



Seriously, as a first timer, I don't expect to get much or any publicity from a publisher for my first novel, so that's out the window.

Then you're woefully misinformed. Publishers don't buy books they intend to bury. They make investments, then do their best to make those investments pay off. That doesn't happen without publicity.

Publishers use their name to position the books they buy. They have established relationships with reviewers to get advanced buzz for books before they're on sale. They have the means to get cover quotes from other authors, and can get ARCs out into the world to get people talking. They have mailing lists made up of readers who want to be informed of new titles and can deal with library associations to get books on library shelves nationwide.


Sure, I think I'll be cool to sign with a publisher, but beyond the cool factor... why?

Less cool, more good business for mainstream novels. Certain genres work well self-published, especially if you write for a niche audience or happen to have a novel that's in a saturated market not likely to be bought by a publisher.


I'd love some enlightenment on the topic.

I hope this gave you some :)

Scribble Orca
09-09-2012, 08:19 AM
Some terrific points here.

I hesitate to jump on the bandwagon since there are other threads - but this was the only one of two in the Self Pub and POD forum that showed up when I did a search on line editor.

Now you probably know why I did that - but take a breath and slow down for a minute.

I have my ms on requested submission with two larger indie print publishers at the moment. It's realistic to expect, sadly, that I'll probably receive negative responses. Especially after reading Henry Rosenbloom of Scribe Publishing about the dismal state of the industry - it isn't always the quality of the manuscript that's the problem, but simply the state of the market.

Falling sales and circulation mean that there isn't enough marketing money to go round - especially for new and middle-list authors - and maybe I've just looked at the wrong agent sites, but an awful lot seem to insist on queries from writers who are willing to market and do more than just write.

Henry also bemoaned the quality of editorial work. Not because of the quality of the editors - but because of the time and cost constraints that make it impossible for editors to do the best job possible (and he quotes some rather unfortunate examples :( ).

Here's the rub - I've worked in editing (line and copy), I've worked in marketing, and unfairly for other people, I don't need an advance. But I do need the best possible product if I end up having to self-publish - and that is the quandary. I do have links to indie book stores as well as my target market, I don't mind sacrificing 70% of the RRP to trade distributors, but I have no idea where to find a really really good editor. I had an editor (of sorts) read over the ms way-back-when and make some structural suggestions and a few comma shifts, ditto my betas, and I've managed the remaining edits myself (it helps reading the text backwards sometimes, too :D). But all of that's no guarantee that the manuscript is truly good enough to put out there - and I'll only feel it is after an editor of publishing house quality pulls it apart and suggests how to put it together again. E-pub houses would be a great option - except my target audience needs print more.

I've found a dreamboat of a cover designer (because a magazine which I pick up on occasion had her composite as its cover), I know from my genre and target audience what I need to do for font type, binding, etc. I even know exactly where I want to place my first 100 books (as a giveaway). Except it's just as likely that I'll be labelled as another didn't-make-the-traditional-publishing-grade if I self-pub. I'm even thinking of establishing my own press and working on other people's manuscripts - but that doesn't solve the problem of who is going to eyeball my own, not to mention make huge inroads into my writing time. And as someone mentioned above - they don't want to be a publisher, and I'm not sure I do, either.

So I find myself agreeing with both sides of the fence - and inertia is the long road to nowhere.

grizzletoad1
09-09-2012, 09:12 AM
Just my two cents (and believe me, it ain't worth even that much!) For me, if I ever had the luxury to chose between a publisher and self-pubbing, I'd go publisher for one big reason: Marketing. It was said earlier in this thread about social media, which is just about your only tool it seems to market a self-pubbed work. Unless you live on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere (Which I don't and will never do because I have better things to do with my life), no one is going to know your book exists. Basic marketing 101. If your market has no idea your product is out there, how can you possibly succeed. I had a real epifanny (I know I butchered that word!) recently. I was all set to self pub my ms. Then I thought about the marketing aspect, and started querying agents again.

Cyia
09-09-2012, 02:17 PM
I've not read the information you cite, but I'd like to comment on a couple of your points in light of recent experience:



Falling sales and circulation mean that there isn't enough marketing money to go round - especially for new and middle-list authors - and maybe I've just looked at the wrong agent sites, but an awful lot seem to insist on queries from writers who are willing to market and do more than just write.

New authors definitely get marketing and publicity consideration. What sort of consideration will depend on the intended market for the novel and how wide the publisher thinks they need to cast the net to make up their investment. You can't really compare the marketing of two books as though they're they same product because what works for one book or one genre may not work for another.

The "more" than writing seems to consist of blogging, including blog "tours," perhaps generating additional content like short stories, and in some cases being willing to make appearances. (This is for YA. Different categories take different approaches.)



Henry also bemoaned the quality of editorial work. Not because of the quality of the editors - but because of the time and cost constraints that make it impossible for editors to do the best job possible (and he quotes some rather unfortunate examples :( ).


The "time constraint" on the average novel is 2 years. The "cost constraint" is dependent on what the publisher pays for the novel. If you could see the line and copy edits I've received from two separate publishers with two wildly different investment thresholds, you'd probably reconsider the idea that editors no longer edit thoroughly.

bearilou
09-09-2012, 03:23 PM
The "more" than writing seems to consist of blogging, including blog "tours," perhaps generating additional content like short stories, and in some cases being willing to make appearances. (This is for YA. Different categories take different approaches.)

Noting your caveat that this is your experience for YA, the bold brings up a question I have and it's one of the talking points that inevitably comes up in these us vs them discussions. And yes, it's just become another us vs them discussion.

(Also note, this is not directed at Cyia because she knows I love her to pieces, but it does stick out in my mind)

Willing to make appearances. Is this similar to book tours? The same book tours part that many who want to start sneering at trade publishing complain about that don't happen any longer because 'trade publishing is no longer marketing their books'? So, is it happening or isn't it?

And something I'd like answered. What exactly do people think goes into 'marketing'? I think to answer that question is to bring up what I believe is The Most Misunderstood Part Of Trade Publishing. And yet, everyone who believes in The Church of Konrath seems to be under this impression that publishing is doing less marketing than before (and just goes to PROVE! PROVE I SAY that The Man is Out To Get Them) when I think what is happening is that authors are afraid they're not going to get the James Patterson-Stephen King-Nora Roberts treatment for their book. "Why I know a friend who can't even get his book on the side of a bus or one commercial spot!" "Why I know a friend who's publisher didn't schedule one single book signing tour!"

And you know what? I think those two things specifically are part of the 'allure', of the starry-eyed big dreams of being published. That somehow the author who is 'trade published' will get the Star Treatment and they'll make oodles and oodles and oodles of money and quit their day jobs and can hire assistants like Brent Weeks and Neil Gaiman and sit and be all Writerly and Write Good Books and all the stuff that dreams are made of but reality simply doesn't bear out except for the megastars of the writing world.

And since these dreams get punctured on a regular basis by stuff like Write Good Books and then Write More Good Books and Separate Writing the Art from Publishing The Business and the harsh realities of what goes into being trade published, they're willing to do stuff like start threads on writing boards about how self-publishing is so much better and freeing than trade publishing.

Other than Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch (all of whom started in trade publishing and recognized the vast potential to make more money talking about how evil trade publishing is), can someone name me a self-publishing star that has 1) risen from the ranks as a self-publisher from the start, 2) gathered some acclaim as a writer and their books are selling to the point of notoriety and then 3) hasn't made the decision to sign with a major publisher when their star finally rose? Can someone, anyone, tell me?

People like Amanda Hocking and (frankly, I'm drawing a blank) get tossed about as being their flagship stars for self publishing, and no doubt, they have had some fabulous successes through that avenue, but if I recall, they also JUMPED at the chance to be published through a publisher when the offer came.

Hugh Howey is the only one that comes to mind who hasn't. (And a fast internet search told me the first five volumes of Wool have been gathered into an omnibus. so totally mine now *clicks*)

So...if self-publishing is all that and a bag of chips, why do the people who make it big (including Mr. Konrath himself who signed on with Amazon's publishing arm) do that?

Because maybe, just maybe, being trade published gave them something that self-publishing hasn't. And I don't think it was marketing.

Now, here's the rub. I love self-publishing. I love the fact that it's taking off and we are seeing successes. I'm having fun with my own self-publishing process. For what little I'm doing, it's still a lot of work. Work that I won't have to do when I decide to take my novels through the trade publishing route.

*this diatribe brought to you by no coffee yet and a rising irritation that this conversation continues to be about us vs. them and sneering attitudes of 'prove to me that trade publishing has something to offer that I can't do on my own through self publishing'.

Cyia
09-09-2012, 04:15 PM
Willing to make appearances. Is this similar to book tours? The same book tours part that many who want to start sneering at trade publishing complain about that don't happen any longer because 'trade publishing is no longer marketing their books'? So, is it happening or isn't it?

Book tours and things like going to book expos, etc. (Again, it seems to happen more with YA) on both a local (home state) and national level.


can someone name me a self-publishing star that has 1) risen from the ranks as a self-publisher from the start, 2) gathered some acclaim as a writer and their books are selling to the point of notoriety and then 3) hasn't made the decision to sign with a major publisher when their star finally rose? Can someone, anyone, tell me?



You'd have to get her name from Konrath's blog because I can't remember, but yes, there was a woman just in the last couple of months who was offered 7-figures, but turned it down to keep putting books out herself.

MMcDonald64
09-09-2012, 04:33 PM
Off the top of my head, I thought of one author right away who has been steadily successful, quit his day job a few years ago and writes full time. I remember reading that he had sold over 200, 000 books. He's also very prolific. I think I recall reading that he had been offered trade publishing but turned it down. Not 100% sure about that but I wouldn't doubt it.
http://greghamerton.com/2011/11/indie-fantasy-authors-to-watch-david-dalglish/

Ken
09-09-2012, 04:34 PM
there was a woman just in the last couple of months who was offered 7-figures, but turned it down to keep putting books out herself.

... control may be a factor. Wanting to do everything yourself, despite the hassle. If that works for a writer, fine. I think the issue is that a lot of writers new to the biz really don't know all that's involved in getting a book out there, by themselves, if they have hopes of making money and getting a fair number of readers. It can be daunting as posters here have said. So in a way it's good that threads like this keep popping up, despite the annoyance. It keeps the topic accessible.

Cyia
09-09-2012, 04:37 PM
... control may be a factor. Wanting to do everything yourself, despite the hassle.

Honestly, for some people, it's probably not a hassle. It's a skill set like any other, and some will be better at it than others, just like some will enjoy it more than others.

bethany
09-09-2012, 04:52 PM
RE- book tours- I was on a book tour this summer (YA- HarperCollins Dark Days of the Supernatural Tour) but the media reps who picked ups up from the airport--that's what they DO. Their jobs are shuttling authors from the airport to signings, and they reported that they are VERY busy, and that business dropped significantly for a few years, but has picked back up. So, while my experience is completely in the YA field, the media reps indicated that they work with a lot of adult authors, as well.

I'm flying to Salt Lake City for a signing that I was invited to take part in, the first event on a multi-author tour tomorrow. (Smart Chick's Tour with AW's own Melissa Marr). So, book tours are still taking place.

Twizzle
09-09-2012, 06:20 PM
Why sign with a publisher at all?

Sure, I think I'll be cool to sign with a publisher, but beyond the cool factor... why?

I won't bother listing the pros and cons to either, as others have done it quite well here. But what I find interesting is how you seem to be implying that it has to be an either/ or choice. Because you can do both doing your career, if you desire. And some have found that path to be beneficial.

But that's the thing. There's only one correct path for you: yours. And it's not mine, or anyone else's. So all you can do is to learn everything you can about publishing and writing and your options, and then decide what path is best for you for each book in the course of your lifetime. Then follow that path with conviction. Good luck.

bearilou
09-09-2012, 06:22 PM
Just so that I'm clear, because I realized my question about authors who have risen from starting at the ground and have decided not to take the offers made by publisher sounded like I was being catty, I wanted to know who they were because honestly? I believe they're the ones self publishers should be listening to in regards to the benefits of self-publishing over trade publishing.

It's one thing to start self-publishing with books that have already received what trade publishing has to offer along with some of the notoriety of being a trade published author, and someone who started with nothing, scratched out their success through their own blood, sweat and tears, received what might be considered a sweet deal and decided it wasn't what they wanted.

*this is not to denigrate those who were trade published and decided to give self-publishing a go. That takes courage. And they can offer very good insight as to why they decided to go solo. However, most self-publishers, I'd submit a lot of self-publishers, don't have that benefit. So if we're going to make comparisons, let's make sure the comparisons are meaningful to each other.

shadowwalker
09-09-2012, 06:34 PM
So if we're going to make comparisons, let's make sure the comparisons are meaningful to each other.

I think it's very important to understand how "it works" depending on where you are as an author. What works for a writer who already has a following or reputation via trade publishing could (and probably will) fail miserably for someone who has their very first novel in hand. And for authors who have both SP and trade published novels, it's another ballgame again. If one is looking for a 'model', it should be one as close to one's own situation as possible.

MMcDonald64
09-09-2012, 07:36 PM
One thing that makes it hard to decide what is best is that earnings and books sales vary so widely. For those who have never been trade published, like me, we don't know what the average mid-list trade pubbed author earns. Say, one with three books, because that is what I have out and I'd like to know how I compare, but finding that information is extremely difficult as most trade published authors don't share the information. (there was one a few years ago who shared her royalty statements on her webpage but I forgot her name.)

On the other hand, many self-published authors do because it is a way to encourage other authors who are just starting out and may be getting discouraged. If they see that many of us had first royalty payments of $10, but then went on to be fairly successful, they can keep their enthusiasm up until they become the ones encouraging the next group of newbies. At least, that has been my experience.

Other than bestsellers like King, Child or Koontz, most trade published author earnings are a huge mystery. I have no clue if a mid-list trade pubbed author makes enough (say $50,000 a year) to be able to write full-time. Is that an average? Does anyone know? Info like that would help people choose which route to go.

Cyia
09-09-2012, 07:57 PM
Many contracts come with non-disclosure clauses, so the author can't reveal that information in full. I have a clause like that in my UK and German contracts (I'd have to double check the German one, but I think it's there), but not in the US ones.

In general, though, if you're talking 3 books in one deal, your first one won't likely be enough to live on because of the way the advance is broken up. I'll use easy numbers rather than my own as an example:

Say you get 10,000 per book for 3 books, or a 30,000 advance. You don't get that 30,000 up front; it's paid over time at different points in the contract.

One of my US advances was broken into quarters, so I got 1/4 for each book on signing, then 1/4 on acceptance (this could be a year after signing), then 1/4 on hardback release (up to another year) and 1/4 on paperback release (likely another year).

So, in this case, you'd get 1/4 per book up front, or 2,500 x 3, which is $7,500. A year later, you'd get another $2500 on book 1, when the final MS is accepted, and then on through the list as each book hits its marks.

The other advance used a 40/40/20 system. 40% on signing, 40% on acceptance and 20% on publication, so in that instance you'd get 4000X3 up front, or $12,000, then $4000 on acceptance, and $2000 on publication as each hit shelves.

$5000-$10,000 is about average for a new mid-list author AFAIK, so the key is to have several books in the pipeline at one time so that those smaller advance chunks add up to something substantial... which is usually the key to successful self-publishing, too, it seems. Those with more books make more.

MMcDonald64
09-09-2012, 08:51 PM
Many contracts come with non-disclosure clauses, so the author can't reveal that information in full. I have a clause like that in my UK and German contracts (I'd have to double check the German one, but I think it's there), but not in the US ones.

In general, though, if you're talking 3 books in one deal, your first one won't likely be enough to live on because of the way the advance is broken up. I'll use easy numbers rather than my own as an example:

Say you get 10,000 per book for 3 books, or a 30,000 advance. You don't get that 30,000 up front; it's paid over time at different points in the contract.

One of my US advances was broken into quarters, so I got 1/4 for each book on signing, then 1/4 on acceptance (this could be a year after signing), then 1/4 on hardback release (up to another year) and 1/4 on paperback release (likely another year).

So, in this case, you'd get 1/4 per book up front, or 2,500 x 3, which is $7,500. A year later, you'd get another $2500 on book 1, when the final MS is accepted, and then on through the list as each book hits its marks.

The other advance used a 40/40/20 system. 40% on signing, 40% on acceptance and 20% on publication, so in that instance you'd get 4000X3 up front, or $12,000, then $4000 on acceptance, and $2000 on publication as each hit shelves.

$5000-$10,000 is about average for a new mid-list author AFAIK, so the key is to have several books in the pipeline at one time so that those smaller advance chunks add up to something substantial... which is usually the key to successful self-publishing, too, it seems. Those with more books make more.

Thank you for sharing. I had a big long reply, but I hit something on my computer and it just vanished before I could post it. Ugh.

The jist of it was, that given your numbers and applying them to myself, I feel like I made a wise choice. However, the reality was, I didn't have a choice. I had queried over 100 agents in my genre who turned it down. My only choice was to trunk it, or self-publish. I am so glad I had the choice to self-publish because it has completely changed my life.

Medievalist
09-09-2012, 10:45 PM
I think you forgot. We "self publishers" also have cooties.

Speak for yourself.

I certainly don't—and I first self-published 23 years ago.

Ken
09-10-2012, 01:20 AM
However, the reality was, I didn't have a choice. I had queried over 100 agents in my genre who turned it down. My only choice was to trunk it, or self-publish. I am so glad I had the choice to self-publish because it has completely changed my life.

... there is another choice. You trunk it; write another; and send that one out. And if that one or a subsequent one finds the mark then your previous one(s) may be snatched up as well. It happens. Not saying you need to book on something like that. Just that it's an option to consider.

It's good things worked out well for you.

MMcDonald64
09-10-2012, 01:55 AM
... there is another choice. You trunk it; write another; and send that one out. And if that one or a subsequent one finds the mark then your previous one(s) may be snatched up as well. It happens. Not saying you need to book on something like that. Just that it's an option to consider.

It's good things worked out well for you.

True, and that would have been my only real option five years ago, but I didn't see the point of putting it away. What good would that do? On the very slight chance that my next book would get an agent and a publisher, they would then want the first book? Not likely. Sure it happens, and I'm sure somebody will come forward and say that happened to them, but it's probably about as rare as an Amanda Hocking.

I also like the idea of being in control of my own success and not having to wait on somebody else to give me the green light. I had the book in quite a few critique groups and had a different version on a website for awhile. In fact, it started as a short story and the only reason that version continued to grow was because readers kept commenting that they wanted more. After getting that short story to about 40k, I decided it was crazy to keep going at it piecemeal, and completely re-wrote it. I knew that there were readers out there who would like it, and I had received enough feedback over the years that I felt my writing was acceptable.

Maybe my query sucked--although I had it up here a few times to get tweaked, and I enlisted the help of some query experts. It wasn't completely the query as my book description is pretty close to what I used for my final queries, but maybe my formatting was off, or I had a typo in the first page that I didn't catch. (despite re-reading it a million times.) Whatever. Agents weren't interested at all. I didn't feel all that charitable towards them by that point and I felt the clock ticking due to what I felt was a time sensitive subject. I took the plunge. Every positive email I receive from a reader or comment on my FB page just reinforces to me that I made the right decision.

Scribble Orca
09-10-2012, 03:04 AM
I've not read the information you cite, but I'd like to comment on a couple of your points in light of recent experience:

Here is the link to Scribe Publishing - Henry Rosenbloom is something of a phenomenon in Australian publishing - but I'm sure what holds true here is relevant to the other side of the pond. I certainly don't have the experience to make the comments I made - this is what he says.

http://scribepublications.com.au/news-and-events/tag/henry

New authors definitely get marketing and publicity consideration. What sort of consideration will depend on the intended market for the novel and how wide the publisher thinks they need to cast the net to make up their investment. You can't really compare the marketing of two books as though they're they same product because what works for one book or one genre may not work for another.

I'm not saying they won't. The point is, how much, relative to what a dedicated, market-savvy writer might or might not be able to do for him/herself.

Yes, that's a fair point. The marketing of different genres is not necessarily the same.

The "time constraint" on the average novel is 2 years. The "cost constraint" is dependent on what the publisher pays for the novel. If you could see the line and copy edits I've received from two separate publishers with two wildly different investment thresholds, you'd probably reconsider the idea that editors no longer edit thoroughly.

Yes, I might - but the point is that I'm quoting a successful publisher and I refer you to his blog. The costs constraints are also given by the publisher's revenues and circulation - where this is falling, budgets just aren't there, regardless of novel acquisition costs.


And like everything, thoroughly is a grey area.


To those who were asking after a successful self-pub other than Amanda Hocking, Australian Matthew Reilly hawked his self-pubbed 1000 print copies thriller Contest in 1996.

He was offered publication for his second book - and he took it.

Susan Ee self-pubbed because she didn't want to wait the standard two years. She's now been picked up by a publisher and explains the reason for the change on her blog.

Erotica and romance appear to work well in the self-pub e-book arena; middle grade and young adult regardless of genre seem to be less likely to do well - my guess is the target audience in middle grade are still reading print and it's parents who buy the books (and if you have two kids, you aren't buying two ipads or two kindles :D), in YA - not sure.

GiantRampagingPencil
09-10-2012, 07:20 AM
When I came to this site, I had planned to self-pub because I had heard a imperial ass-ton of myths about trad. publishing. You have to pay back advances, you have to pay for your own advertising and editing etc. I even heard advice that you should take your advance, plough it back into editing and advertising, and hope to hell that you thing don't have to pay it back.

Since I learned that these are myths, it's trad. pub. all the way. I don't want to worry about any of that stuff and the thought of a pro editor helping me make my writing better makes me drool.

Jeez, before I was wondering if, because the working title of my WIP is "Black Space", I could get away with an AC/DC "Black in Black" or Beatles "White Album" approach to cover art 'cause it'd be cheap, not because it might sell.



And I don't want cooties.

shaldna
09-10-2012, 01:29 PM
When I came to this site, I had planned to self-pub because I had heard a imperial ass-ton of myths about trad. publishing.

The more time you spend reading and researching, the more myths and bullshit you will across - in all aspects of publishing.

That said, there does seem to be a higher percentage of myths, lies and misinformation coming from the SP side, whether through deliberate actions or just ignorance. It's a shame, because there are a lot of good, well informed self publishers out there who aren't spreading shit around to validate their choices.

Ken
09-10-2012, 02:31 PM
... these stood out in your post:


I had the book in quite a few critique groups and had a different version on a website for awhile. In fact, it started as a short story and the only reason that version continued to grow was because readers kept commenting that they wanted more. After getting that short story to about 40k, I decided it was crazy to keep going at it piecemeal, and completely re-wrote it. I knew that there were readers out there who would like it, and I had received enough feedback over the years that I felt my writing was acceptable.

... and I felt the clock ticking due to what I felt was a time sensitive subject. I took the plunge.

If it was time-sensitive then you really had no choice in a way to get it out there. I've been in that situation with essays on news topics that have a short expiration date. I'm not entirely sure how that plays out with fiction. I totally take your word for it, but would be curious to know some more on the matter. What in general made yours time sensitive?

In regards to your posting your story on a website that puts things in a different light. Did you let agents know your novel started off like that. You sorta should have. And if they knew from you or from looking about the web that your novel had already been published in a sense then that alone would have made them reject your novel, outright, without further consideration.

All in all, it still sounds like you went the right route in posting the story to begin with as you wouldn't have completed a novel if you hadn't. You shouldn't feel down about it's not being picked up though as it may have had nothing to do with your novel, but rather b/c of it's already being pub'd on the web. Still a great learning experience and one that you made the best of.

And like others have said, you can always do both: self-pub and go the traditional route. You should give the later another go with subsequent stuff. You may be pleasantly surprised.

bearilou
09-10-2012, 04:40 PM
And like others have said, you can always do both: self-pub and go the traditional route. You should give the later another go with subsequent stuff. You may be pleasantly surprised.

I don't know, Ken. I've talked with her before on the forums and she's doing quite well for herself with self-publishing. I think all things considered, she may find (and I don't mean to be talking for her, she's capable of doing that on her own) that trade publishing simply can't offer her what she most enjoys about doing it herself now.

I agree that writers can do both, take advantage of the benefits from both routes and not see it hurt them, but sometimes...don't fix what ain't broke?

MMcDonald64
09-10-2012, 06:12 PM
... these stood out in your post:



If it was time-sensitive then you really had no choice in a way to get it out there. I've been in that situation with essays on news topics that have a short expiration date. I'm not entirely sure how that plays out with fiction. I totally take your word for it, but would be curious to know some more on the matter. What in general made yours time sensitive?

In regards to your posting your story on a website that puts things in a different light. Did you let agents know your novel started off like that. You sorta should have. And if they knew from you or from looking about the web that your novel had already been published in a sense then that alone would have made them reject your novel, outright, without further consideration.

All in all, it still sounds like you went the right route in posting the story to begin with as you wouldn't have completed a novel if you hadn't. You shouldn't feel down about it's not being picked up though as it may have had nothing to do with your novel, but rather b/c of it's already being pub'd on the web. Still a great learning experience and one that you made the best of.

And like others have said, you can always do both: self-pub and go the traditional route. You should give the later another go with subsequent stuff. You may be pleasantly surprised.


I didn't tell agents about the previous version because it was a completely different story with different characters, different plot, etc. I totally re-wrote the whole story from scratch and took the original one down just to be on the safe side.

The only thing the same was the premise, and I don't think that should matter. A whole main point (imprisonment) wasn't even written in the original as I started the story after the character's release. That is half the book right there. His return to society took a different path with a new plot and resolution.

MMcDonald64
09-10-2012, 06:21 PM
I don't know, Ken. I've talked with her before on the forums and she's doing quite well for herself with self-publishing. I think all things considered, she may find (and I don't mean to be talking for her, she's capable of doing that on her own) that trade publishing simply can't offer her what she most enjoys about doing it herself now.

I agree that writers can do both, take advantage of the benefits from both routes and not see it hurt them, but sometimes...don't fix what ain't broke?

Thanks, bearilou. :-) I wouldn't totally rule out trade publishing, and one thing I would love is an Amazon imprint to pick up my series. I've seen what they can do, and I've talked with several authors who have gone that route. One was trade published (Penguin) before going it alone, and now she is going with an Amazon imprint with several books that were already self-published. (I don't think those ones were backlist, but originally self-published.) She is very happy with the deal she got and the work that the imprint has done, as well as her own input into the process.

The other thing I would like to do are audiobooks. I had an audiobook publisher contact me several months ago asking if the rights were available. I said they were and expressed interest. Last I heard, they were still deciding on their next line-up of books.

I hadn't really thought much about doing those myself until I had the contact, then I looked ACX and how you can partner with a voice talent. I may go that route if the audio publisher thing doesn't work out. I would have nothing to lose.

Tettsuo
09-10-2012, 07:29 PM
Tettsuo - why do you think authors sign with a publisher?
I think authors sign with a publisher because:

1 - Legacy. It's what they're are suppose to do, or at least that how I believe they feel.
2 - Money.
3 - Professional editting.
4 - Not interested in the business aspect of writing.

StephenJSweeney
09-10-2012, 07:44 PM
4 - Not interested in the business aspect of writing.

From what I understand, this is becoming more and more something that an author must be involved in. These days, it's simply not enough to just write a book, give it to the publisher and stop worrying about it.

Today, being an author means engaging your readers through Facebook, Twitter, your blog, attending social conventions, taking part in panels, going to signings (not just your own), creating marketing materials (flyers, bookmarks, etc.) and networking, networking, networking.

Steph Swainston announced in 2011 that she has quit full time writing to become a chemistry teacher. From the article:

Swainston is also unhappy with the "book a year" ethos of modern publishing: "Publishers seem to want to compete with faster forms of media, but the fast turnover leads to poorer books, and publishers shoot themselves in the foot. And it's as if authors have to be celebrities these days. It's expected that authors do loads of self-publicity – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forum discussions – but it's an author's job to write a book, not do the marketing. Just like celebrities don't make good authors, authors don't really make good celebrities."

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/steph-swainston-i-need-to-return-to-reality-2309804.html

Food for thought.

Tettsuo
09-10-2012, 07:47 PM
Not meaning to sound like a bitch, (no really, but I can't find a way to more eloquently phrase it) but you must not read very deeply in the threads then.

Whenever someone starts yet another conversation of the Great Trade vs Self Debate, many of the experienced people here will post comment breaking down most of the misconceptions about trade publishing and what the benefits and drawbacks are. It's not some well-kept secret. It's discussed here all the time.

I wasn't looking for a debate, just looking for the plusses of trade publishing. Debate is fine and all, but it really isn't the information I was interested in.

So far, most of the benefits are in marketing and placement, both of which are very powerful reasons.

Tettsuo
09-10-2012, 07:56 PM
As others have said, you'll get a better audience, won't have to pay, and a lot more things out of traditional publishing. I suggest researching publishers and agents more and looking at what they have to offer. It really all boils down to money. Do you wanna toss it out there and risk it, or take it from the publisher?
What do you mean by "better audience"? Do you mean larger audience or an audience made up of better people?

I regards to paying, I don't mind that. I absolutely believe in investing in the work.

Self-publishing is a big risk.
It's all a big risk. No risk no reward. That's not just about writing, that's life, no?

Besides the point, you don't even sound like you care about readership. Sounds to me you just want it slapped together with cover art and pay an editor to make it all pretty. You don't expect any publicity? What do you mean you don't care who reads it? What's the point of publishing it at all then?
How do you get the idea I don't care about readership? I have a professional artist working on it, not some guy I knew from high school that can draw. I have professional editors, people that do it and have done it for a living. I've already lined up 10 beta readers, all from varying backgrounds, levels of education and professional lives to review the work.

That being the case, I'd say you've misjudged my commitment to readership.

Tettsuo
09-10-2012, 07:58 PM
Trade-published = cash advance (aka positive cash flow)
Self-published = out-of-pocket expenses (aka negative cash flow)

"Who doesn't like more money?"

Is it a given that trade published books out-earn self-published books? If so, I'd love to read about it.

Al Stevens
09-10-2012, 08:09 PM
Is it a given that trade published books out-earn self-published books? If so, I'd love to read about it.
In my opinion, there are no givens in publishing.

Medievalist
09-10-2012, 08:14 PM
Is it a given that trade published books out-earn self-published books? If so, I'd love to read about it.

That depends on the book.

But the average trade book will earn more than the average self-published book simply because most self-published books don't even sell 1000 copies, and there's no advance.

There are of course many exceptions, but there are so very many self-published books that don't even sell a 100 copies.

The things to ask for each book are:

1. What's best for this book?

A niche book, especially if it's non-fiction or erotica, may do much much better as a self-published book, especially if the author has a following or specific expertise.

2. What's better for this author?

Many people actually enjoy promotion and marketing, and have a skill set that's ideal for producing their own books.

Many just want to write a book, and then go on to the next book, and leave the production, distribution, marketing and sales to a publisher.

The answers depend on the book and the author—and they can change with time.

Terie
09-10-2012, 08:20 PM
From what I understand, this is becoming more and more something that an author must be involved in. These days, it's simply not enough to just write a book, give it to the publisher and stop worrying about it.

There's a lot more to the 'business of being a publisher' than this. Not every writer has the interest and/or skillset to do the 'business of being a publisher' even if they might have a great handle on promotion.

Publishers might be relying on authors for promotion now more than ever, but they don't ask authors to:


Hire and manage copyeditors, line editors, proofreaders, and so on
Hire and manage interior and exterior designers
Hire and manage cover artists
Index nonfiction books
QA both print and e-books, as applicable
Arrange audiobook rights sales
Arrange foreign rights sales (if they contracted worldwide rights)
Produce full-colour catalogues for print books
Make sales calls to booksellers
Manage distribution (print and e, as applicable)
Create advertising and buy ad space (for the books they choose to advertise)
Create sales collateral for books they intend to 'push' as venues such as BEA, Frankfurt, and so on


And that's not anything like a complete list of things that comprise the 'business of publishing'. Not every self-publisher chooses to do all of these things, but all publishers (self and others) have to do at least some of them.

And funny enough, plenty of writers don't want to do any of them.

BenPanced
09-10-2012, 08:30 PM
And taxes. Don't forget about those. :Headbang: When do you DIY vs. when do you hire a CPA/tax adviser?

Sheryl Nantus
09-10-2012, 08:33 PM
My reasons are quite simple.

I can't afford to self-publish. I've put out a few short stories I've already sold as reprints and gotten a few sales - but I don't have the money or the skill or the nerve to spend on self-publishing a novel. I can't take the risk of losing cash.

As I've said before - I may not have gotten into writing to get rich but I sure didn't get into it to get poor.

:)

Sheryl Nantus
09-10-2012, 08:37 PM
3 - Professional editting.

Yeah. And spelling too.

:D

bearilou
09-10-2012, 09:02 PM
So far, most of the benefits are in marketing and placement, both of which are very powerful reasons.

Especially in today's environment of publishing.

But self-publishing has its strengths as well, things that recommend it to be the best choice.

And like Medi said, it all really comes down to what the author thinks is best for them and for their book. Just as long as the author isn't making decisions based on bad information, which really can be detrimental no matter how well-intentioned.

Tettsuo
09-10-2012, 09:10 PM
Yeah. And spelling too.

:D
Doh!

Proof enough that I needed to hire a professional editor. :ROFL:

Al Stevens
09-10-2012, 10:24 PM
The "time constraint" on the average novel is 2 years.Which means that agents and publishers are making selections from submissions by guessing what will be selling in two years, which they probably base on what is selling today. As volatile as consumer markets are in today's economy, I wonder whether anybody can guess with any degree of accuracy what will be hot that far in the future.

(One might argue that well-written, well-promoted books will sell irrespective of trends.)

How do such projections work? I've watched other focused targets fall flat when the crystal balls clouded up.

I would conclude, based only on fuzzy logic, that if you have a novel ready, and if it is written to one of today's hot-selling genres, self-publishing might be a better choice for the time advantage if only to ride the wave while it's still cresting.

kaitie
09-10-2012, 10:45 PM
It's all a big risk. No risk no reward. That's not just about writing, that's life, no?


I could comment on other things, but had to hit this one: the monetary risk is vastly higher than for trade publishing. I'd actually say the risk in general is incredibly higher.

Risks of trade publishing: 1) not selling well enough to get another contract, 2) publisher goes under and takes rights with them, 3) due to some mistake somewhere along the way with cover, promotion, whatever, the book doesn't sell well.

As for one, this is the biggest concern, IMO. And yet, you'll have still made the money for that book. You'll have an advance, so if the book doesn't sell well, you're still going to have made money on it.

As for two, this is highly unlikely to happen if you go with a reputable publisher. There are plenty of ways to eliminate this risk, such as only going with established publishers, using an agent, and so on. I suppose you could lump bad contract terms in here, too, but again, that's entirely avoidable, especially with an agent, so it doesn't seem right to include.

The third certainly happens, but considering the people making the cover, promotion, marketing, and so on are all professionals who have studied what works in various genres, so the chances of having those types of problems are going to be less than if you were doing it on your own or paying people without the same degree of experience.

So I suppose one could say that there are risks with trade publishing, but they're not really monetary ones, and even if your book didn't sell that well, there's nothing to stop you from self-publishing it later and seeing if you can get it to do better yourself. Overall, not a bad gig.

I'm not sure I see how this would even begin to compare to the risk with self-publishing considering there is no guarantee of getting the money back, and often the number that would need to be sold to do so is enough to make it a rather large risk. Unfortunately, no one has figured out a magical formula for selling a ton of copies.

Sure, we say get a good cover and good editing, but I've seen books sell well that had shitty covers and mediocre editing, and books with stellar covers and top-notch writing/editing get lost. It helps, but it's no guarantee. Until someone does come up with a magical formula, it's a huge risk, unless you have enough money that throwing away a couple thousand isn't a big deal.

Jamiekswriter
09-10-2012, 11:05 PM
Why sign with a publisher at all?
.

It obviously depends on your writing goals. But there is still a stigma attached to being self published. Thankfully, that is changing and it certainly isn't the red flag of death it was a few years ago. But in most non-writer/publishing circles if you self publish, it's viewed that you're not good enough for a "real" publisher. Which is not necessarily fair or true.

I've read some fantastic self published books. If you like steampunk swashbuckling, I highly recommend The Emperor's Edge (http://www.amazon.com/The-Emperors-Edge-ebook/dp/B004H1TDB0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347303409&sr=8-2&keywords=the+emperor%27s+edge) by Lindsay Buroker. It's free for Kindle. (The first one's always free ;D). I immediately paid for and scarfed up the next four books in the series.

I've also read some dreadful self published books. And some self pubbed books I'd really like to read, but their starting price of $15 or more puts me off. I only pay that much for one of my "must buy" authors -- which self pubbed Lindsay Buroker is now one.

I think it was Uncle Jim that said self publishing is the new slush pile. Reviewers aren't afraid to post if a book stinks. Although lately, some antics have made doing that a little dicey.

Every self pubbed book that has a bad cover, little or no editing and a story that is uninteresting, rambling or lacks a plot really makes it harder for the good self pubbed books to break free of the stigma.

There are no gatekeepers to self publishing, no quality control. And while you can argue that the Big Six does put out its share of stinkers, for the most part they publish competant story tellers.

Good luck in your writing. Don't give up!

Old Hack
09-10-2012, 11:54 PM
Which means that agents and publishers are making selections from submissions by guessing what will be selling in two years, which they probably base on what is selling today. As volatile as consumer markets are in today's economy, I wonder whether anybody can guess with any degree of accuracy what will be hot that far in the future.

This would be true if agents and publishers only represented or bought books based on current trends: but they usually pick out the best books they receive, books they think are good and which have strong commercial appeal, regardless of what's selling at the moment.

Al Stevens
09-11-2012, 12:04 AM
Which is why I said...


(One might argue that well-written, well-promoted books will sell irrespective of trends.)

Tettsuo
09-11-2012, 12:17 AM
It obviously depends on your writing goals. But there is still a stigma attached to being self published. Thankfully, that is changing and it certainly isn't the red flag of death it was a few years ago. But in most non-writer/publishing circles if you self publish, it's viewed that you're not good enough for a "real" publisher. Which is not necessarily fair or true.

I've read some fantastic self published books. If you like steampunk swashbuckling, I highly recommend The Emperor's Edge (http://www.amazon.com/The-Emperors-Edge-ebook/dp/B004H1TDB0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347303409&sr=8-2&keywords=the+emperor%27s+edge) by Lindsay Buroker. It's free for Kindle. (The first one's always free ;D). I immediately paid for and scarfed up the next four books in the series.

I've also read some dreadful self published books. And some self pubbed books I'd really like to read, but their starting price of $15 or more puts me off. I only pay that much for one of my "must buy" authors -- which self pubbed Lindsay Buroker is now one.

I think it was Uncle Jim that said self publishing is the new slush pile. Reviewers aren't afraid to post if a book stinks. Although lately, some antics have made doing that a little dicey.

Every self pubbed book that has a bad cover, little or no editing and a story that is uninteresting, rambling or lacks a plot really makes it harder for the good self pubbed books to break free of the stigma.

There are no gatekeepers to self publishing, no quality control. And while you can argue that the Big Six does put out its share of stinkers, for the most part they publish competant story tellers.

Good luck in your writing. Don't give up!
Downloaded The Emperor's Edge at your behest. Will check it out. :)

From my estimation and limited understanding, even a moderately successful self-pub book will net the writer more money than a moderately successful trade pub book. The difference in royalty rate is extreme, no?

Old Hack
09-11-2012, 12:17 AM
Not only might I argue that, Al, I do. Ha!

Al Stevens
09-11-2012, 12:29 AM
And I would root for you to be right, Old Hack.

shadowwalker
09-11-2012, 12:33 AM
From my estimation and limited understanding, even a moderately successful self-pub book will net the writer more money than a moderately successful trade pub book. The difference in royalty rate is extreme, no?

Difference in royalty rates doesn't include the advance. Not to mention that trade published will get into book stores (bigger audience), print (bigger audience), audio (bigger audience), overseas (bigger audience), review sites (bigger audience)... and, of course, subtracting the out-of-pocket costs of self-publishing (if done right). Yes, self-publishers can do some of the above - for a cost, many times prohibitive.

There's a lot more to it than royalty rates, in other words.

Sheryl Nantus
09-11-2012, 12:40 AM
From my estimation and limited understanding, even a moderately successful self-pub book will net the writer more money than a moderately successful trade pub book. The difference in royalty rate is extreme, no?

Ah, if it were only about royalty rates...

Look, if you want to self-pub then self-pub. Go ahead. No one here is going to badmouth self-publishing. But we will tell you to check your facts and be sure of your decision before going out there and doing so.

It sounds like you're trying to either justify self-publishing or mocking those of us who do both or just do trade publishing. Either way this is old, old ground gone over many times.

Do what you feel is right for you and your book. But don't be dissing those of us who choose the same way or alternates.

MartinD
09-11-2012, 12:44 AM
But the average trade book will earn more than the average self-published book simply because most self-published books don't even sell 1000 copies, and there's no advance.

According to this (http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/01/24/book-writing-not-rewarding-on/), in 2006, Publisher's Weekly reported that the average American novel (not self-published) had sales of less than 500 copies. As the blog says, "Book writing not rewarding, on average".

Does anyone have more current numbers for trade publishing?

MartinD
09-11-2012, 12:48 AM
According to this (http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/01/24/book-writing-not-rewarding-on/), in 2006, Publisher's Weekly reported that the average American novel (not self-published) had sales of less than 500 copies. As the blog says, "Book writing not rewarding, on average".

Does anyone have more current numbers for trade publishing?

My mistake. The "less than 500 copies" referred to all American books, fiction and nonfiction.

bearilou
09-11-2012, 12:53 AM
Difference in royalty rates doesn't include the advance. Not to mention that trade published will get into book stores (bigger audience), print (bigger audience), audio (bigger audience), overseas (bigger audience), review sites (bigger audience)... and, of course, subtracting the out-of-pocket costs of self-publishing (if done right). Yes, self-publishers can do some of the above - for a cost, many times prohibitive.

There's a lot more to it than royalty rates, in other words.

Exactly. If you made up numbers and plug them in, just as a quick and dirty exercise, you'd see that the self-publisher would need to sell a lot of books at the beginning just to break even with the advance made by selling one book to a trade publisher.

Not saying it can't be done. Not saying that a good self-publisher can't make a very nice living, even possibly a better living than a trade published writer. In fact, there are many on the board who are.

There are further considerations than just the money. Like in the timing of receiving the money. About how long it takes on average (not the instant breakout hits because they're still the exception and not the rule) to build those sales for a self-published author as opposed to a trade published author.

Everything needs to be weighed against the usual results and one can't simply count on being the next Hugh Howey. For every Hugh, there are so many nameless authors who won't see 500 sales ever. The trade equivalent is that the trade published author can't count on being the next EL James.

The problem with many of these discussions, sadly, is someone coming into them with skewed perceptions about the glory of self-publishing and the tragedy of dying trade publishing without really taking a hard, closer look at the numbers, the work, the investment in time, energy, resources that go into both. Or in the history and the agendas behind those who are pushing self-publishing as the second coming of publishing a book. They buy the soft shoe routine and then end up making uninformed decisions because they've bought into the hype without learning how to discern when they're being sold something.

Tettsuo
09-11-2012, 01:05 AM
Ah, if it were only about royalty rates...

Look, if you want to self-pub then self-pub. Go ahead. No one here is going to badmouth self-publishing. But we will tell you to check your facts and be sure of your decision before going out there and doing so.

It sounds like you're trying to either justify self-publishing or mocking those of us who do both or just do trade publishing. Either way this is old, old ground gone over many times.

Do what you feel is right for you and your book. But don't be dissing those of us who choose the same way or alternates.
I'm factoring in potential advances and overall costs to produce a finished product. I'm even factoring the higher print cost due to POD (I worked for a large printing firm that produced financial reports doing cost analysis). Obviously, self publishing will has a higher startup cost for the artist, because I would be absorbing all of the cost myself.

You're assuming a lot I think. I'm asking because I want to know about, not to crap on, trade publishing benefits.

I don't need to justify self-publishing, for me that's already the path I was considering and there are a large number of websites extolling the virtues and pitfall of self publishing. I want a good reason to go the traditional route.

The best reason I've read so far is market reach.

bearilou
09-11-2012, 01:15 AM
The best reason I've read so far is market reach.

It is.

For you.

But for someone like me, it's more than just market reach. It's about money upfront. It's about available time to write my next book instead of having to do all the heavy lifting myself. It's about the fact that I am simply not built to be an 'out there' marketer and hitting all the boards and being social in order to advertise my book. It's about not having to research reviewers who will review self-published books. It's about the learning curve in creating a book cover (or coming up with the money to get a really good one done). It's about coming up off the cash to get my ms edited like it should be.

So the reasons that you would self publish or trade publish are bound up in what you're willing to do and what offers advantage over the other. But those same reasons for you don't hold for me, or for any other individual.

And honestly, while I appreciate your desire to know so you can make the right decision for yourself, you came in with some erroneous pre-conceived notions stated as fact, so your question read more like a challenge for someone to prove something to you, than an earnest request for more information.

I wish you luck in whatever route you ultimately take.

Medievalist
09-11-2012, 01:20 AM
I want a good reason to go the traditional route.

The best reason I've read so far is market reach.

Again, it depends on the book, and the writer.

There's no one-size-fits-all response.

Unimportant
09-11-2012, 01:47 AM
I reckon either way you're signing with a publisher. Them the publisher, or yourself the publisher. How you choose depends on three things: how much money you want to make, how many readers you want to have, and how much time/money you're willing to put into the publishing end.

In general, the publisher plans to break even (with profit being gravy). I'm assuming that booksellers will in general take a 50% cut.

I can sign with Tor, perhaps, for a $7500 advance and 6% royalties on a cover price of $7.99 -- a profit of 48 cents per copy sold. They'll probably chuck around $30,000 into cover art, layout, editing, copyediting, proofreading, marketing, and a print run of 12,000. If I sell 1000 copies, I earn $7500. If I sell 5000 copies, I earn $7500. If I sell 10,000 copies, I earn $7500. If I sell 30,000 copies I earn $14,000. The publisher will break even when the book has sold about 10,000 copies.

I can sign with a smaller but established e-press. No advance and 25% royalties on a cover price of $4.99 -- a profit of $1.25 per copy sold. They'll probably chuck around $3000 into cover art, layout, editing, copyediting, proofreading, and marketing. If I sell 1000 copies, I earn $1250. If I sell 5000 copies, I earn $6200. If I sell 10,000 copies, I earn $12,500. If I sell 30,000 copies I earn $37,500. The publisher will break even when the book has sold about 2400 copies.

I can sign with the Unimportant Self-Press. No advance and a profit of $2 per copy sold. I put no cash into it: I make my own (laughably bad) art, do my own (laughably bad) editing, do my own layout (all of which begs the question of how much is my time worth?) If I sell 1000 copies, it'll be an effing miracle, and I'll make $2000.

Or, let's say I sign with the Unimportant Self-Press. No advance and a profit of $2 per copy sold. But I spend $3000 on an editor and cover artist. I'll need to sell 1500 copies to break even. I'll need to sell 5200 copies to make a profit matching the Tor advance. If I sell 10,000 copies I'll have made $17,000 after expenses, which is more than any other scenario -- but what are the odds, given my market penetration is pretty much zero?

thothguard51
09-11-2012, 02:00 AM
I got no horse in this race but these are my observations...

Self publishing...

1...The writer incurs all the cost up front.

Not many self published authors can afford professional editing, cover artist, graphic designers or advertising cost. But this has not stopped them and unfortunately, readers are noticing and complaining. They also do not have a professional team guiding them and helping to develop their skills.

2...Limited distribution

Generally, distribution is limited to on line sales, no matter if the writer does print or e-books. Few self published writers can get their books placed in books stores where 60% of all sales still occurs because of higher prices and return policies.

3...Limited reviews in national publications.

What I mean by this is that lots of major publications do not review self published writers. Some will do a review of a best selling SP writer, but few will review just anyone. Lots of SP do not even know who to contact for reviews and lets face it, blog tours and blog reviews only go so far. So what is the advantage of a review in a major publication...exposure to buyers for libraries and book stores for one.

4...Competition is higher.

Last I read, it was reported in 2010 that over 750,000 titles were published in 2009. They got to be higher today. The report estimated that 450,000 to 500,000 of titles published were self published.

All publishers, commercial or self published compete for the same reader $$$. But if the commercial and some indie publishers are getting their books onto book store shelves, then they are not competing against the 500,000 who can not. This has got to be good news?

5...Tax reporting and Legal representation.

Every writer has to report earned income, so there is no plus or minus here, except for the Self published author keeping up on the tax forms from all the places he/she has had books sell from.

Then there is legal representation, the self published writer is totally on their own, an out of pocket expense that hopefully they will never need.

Commercially Published...

1...Author incurs no cost to them.

This means the author does not pay for editing, copy editing, are work, graphic designers, print runs or advertising. The cost is on the publisher.

2...Royalty's Paid up Front...

Once a contract is signed, the publisher pays the writer based on how the payment structure is listed in the contract. The writer does not pay anything back if the book does not sell, or does not go into publication. The writer keeps the royalty. Now if they sell over the allotted number of books in the contract, then the publisher continues to make royalty payments for how ever long the book is in circulation.

3...Professional Reviews

The writer does not have to worry, the market team of a publisher takes care of making sure copies of the book are sent out to nationally recognised magazines well before the book is published. This helps to assure the reviews are used in marketing to libraries and book sellers.

4...Competition

Commercially published writers are still competing against other commercially published writers as well as self-published writers. But since their books are also carried in book stores, can be featured in book clubs and discount chain stores, they have eliminated the 500,000 self published writers from the competition.

5...Tax reporting and Legal representation.

As noted above, all writers have to report income, but by going commercial, then the commercial publisher is responsible for gathering and sending the proper forms, which makes it easier for the writer and or tax preparer.

Legal representation. Even commercially published writers are not entirely off the hook about employing their own legal advisers. Still, the commercial publisher may at their choosing represent the interest of the writer against such things as pirating, other writers plagiarizing the work, and a such.

There are a lot of other things I can list as pluses and minuses, for both sides of the debate, but it really depend on each writers goals and what they want in the long run.

I feel like we are still in the early stages of the new self publishing wave compare to the past self publishing efforts. In a few years, I think a lot of self published writers will fall out because it was not what they thought, or they are not making the money they thought they were going to make.

Anyone who goes the self published route needs to look at the big picture down the road. What do they gain? What do they lose? What do they do to their reputations as writers? Those who do will do what they have to do to improve and succeed. Those who do will fall by the wayside only to be replaced by a new generation who believes self publishing will solve all their writing problems. Traditionally or Commercially published writers will continue as they always have, and some will succeed and others will fail here as well.

What interest me is that many self published writers believe the big six are failing. That self publishing is gaining ground in sales. Does anyone really believe that the big six, or even small indies do not have the financial means and technology support to succeed?

Or so are my thoughts...

benbradley
09-11-2012, 02:03 AM
I think authors sign with a publisher because:

1 - Legacy. It's what they're are suppose to do, or at least that how I believe they feel.
2 - Money.
3 - Professional editting.
4 - Not interested in the business aspect of writing.
If you're trying to sell your written words to anyone, whether an agent, a commercial publisher, or directly to readers through self-publishing, you're already doing the business aspect of WRITING. If you're doing self-publishing, you're also doing the "business aspect" (it looks like nothing BUT business to me!) of PUBLISHING.

Is it a given that trade published books out-earn self-published books? If so, I'd love to read about it.
I'm sure there are statistics out there, and I'm sure it's strongly in favor of commercial publishing.

I recall reading (in one of these many AW threads on self-publishing) the average self-published book sells something like under 100 copies. Commercially published books pay the author royalties in advance for the first 5,000 copies (not sure, but I think that's the minimum commercial print run for most novels - if the publisher REALLY likes your book and thinks it will sell better they'll print more and pay a larger advance), regardless of how many or how few of those 5,000 they end up selling. Even from the publisher's point of view, the WORST-selling commercially published book surely sells more copies than the 100 copy figure for the average self-published book.

Commercial publishers put these books on the shelves of just about every new book retail store in the nation. How much would it cost a self-publisher to do that?

Ken
09-11-2012, 02:07 AM
I don't know, Ken. I've talked with her before on the forums and she's doing quite well for herself with self-publishing. I think all things considered, she may find (and I don't mean to be talking for her, she's capable of doing that on her own) that trade publishing simply can't offer her what she most enjoys about doing it herself now.

... thanks for filling me in. You never know who's who around here :-O

Captcha
09-11-2012, 03:21 AM
I'm doing both trade (with reputable e-publishers) and self publishing. I'm in a niche market where I've established a name, and while I love working with my publishers (I've learned a lot from them, stuff that I can now use with self-pubbing), I'm curious about other opportunities.

For me, the test is going to be how much extra time is taken by self-publishing. Rough estimate (because my books are still selling and I'm not sure when/if they're going to stop) is that I make well over $50 an hour from writing for my trade publishers. This includes the writing itself, the editing time, and the promo I do (not a lot to be honest).

The novel that I'm in the process of self-publishing has taken probably 30 hours of extra work that I wouldn't have done with my publishers - finding and coordinating the editor and cover artist; requesting reviews; figuring out how to get the book up on the different sales sites, etc. So in addition to the cost of editing and cover art, I've spent more than $1 500 worth of time on this project.

So there's an investment of well over an extra $2K (expenditures plus time) on this novel, compared to a novel that I put out with my usual publishers. I think the difference in royalties will be enough to justify this, but I don't know it. And that's for someone with a fairly established audience (albeit in a niche market).

Trade publishing, even with e-pubs, is definitely safer than self-publishing. Do you want safety, or are you ready for a risk?

shadowwalker
09-11-2012, 04:09 AM
Do you want safety, or are you ready for a risk?

I really don't like to see it put it that way. It implies that writers who want trade publishers are wusses, or self-publishers are some kind of heroic adventurers. It's not "safety" that makes me want to trade publish. It's not wanting to mess with being a publisher, pure and simple.

Jenbro
09-11-2012, 04:41 AM
I think you forgot. We "self publishers" also have cooties.


:roll:

amergina
09-11-2012, 04:55 AM
You know, as soon as I opened that HuPo article, my cat tried to bury my computer. Perhaps he smelled something...

Jenbro
09-11-2012, 04:58 AM
You know, as soon as I opened that HuPo article, my cat tried to bury my computer. Perhaps he smelled something...


Wow...

Sorry. I'll edit.

amergina
09-11-2012, 05:13 AM
Wow...

Sorry. I'll edit.

I'm new here - is it not acceptable to be in favor of Indie?

It's fine to be in favor of self-publishing. I think it's wonderful that it exists and that there are now tools and support to make it easier to do. I'm supportive of those that do self-publish and I think it's a wonderful option for folks. I've bought and read self-published works. (Both e- and print, BTW. And back before KDP publishing.)

I don't think that equating trade publishing with vanity publishing (and thus basically saying that authors who trade publish are vain, vain, vain) does anything good.

Cutting down others is not a good way to rise above them.

That article basically craps on authors who choose to be trade published, and their publishers by repeating a good number of the myths about publishing.

Here's a thoughtful response to that article:

http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2012/08/vanity-vanity-turning-label-around.html

Cyia
09-11-2012, 05:18 AM
Hi Jenbro.

Being in favor of what works best for you and your book is always acceptable here - so long as you get the facts straight and don't insult those who have chosen a different path. This site is all about protecting authors and helping them make informed decisions, so you'll see a few posts get shredded for repeating information known to be in error or for not supporting their assertions with links to back them up.

Honest questions and discussions are welcome, no matter which side of the fence you stand on, or even you want to try things from both angles.

amergina
09-11-2012, 05:18 AM
And on a much lighter note, Welcome to AW. Sorry about jumping on your link.

I was being vehement against the article, not against the messenger. :)

I can't speak for all of AW, I'm not even a mod, but I think AW is for authors of all stripes. The goal that I've seen is for factual and informative information so that authors can make the best decisions for their books and their careers.

There are many paths, and no one-size-fits-all.

Jenbro
09-11-2012, 05:19 AM
I edited my post because I saw in the topic description that it's okay to express support for SP here.


Cutting down others is not a good way to rise above them.


That's very true.

Since you posted a response to the link I deleted, I'll put the link back up:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernard-starr/the-new-vanity-publishing_b_1821945.html

I thought that Mr. Starr made excellent points, although I certainly understand the resistance to his position (generally speaking).

Al Stevens
09-11-2012, 05:20 AM
Publishers might be relying on authors for promotion now more than ever, but they don't ask authors to:


Index nonfiction books
Then things have changed. I had a choice on all my computer books starting in the mid-1980s and through about 2003. I could do the index myself (I did) or have the cost of an index charged against royalties. And this was with some heavyweight publishers.

(Of course, with such books, which reference keywords, library identifiers, namespaces, and so on, an indexer would need some serious and specific technical chops to do a proper job.)

Unimportant
09-11-2012, 05:25 AM
For me, the test is going to be how much extra time is taken by self-publishing. Rough estimate (because my books are still selling and I'm not sure when/if they're going to stop) is that I make well over $50 an hour from writing for my trade publishers. This includes the writing itself, the editing time, and the promo I do (not a lot to be honest).

The novel that I'm in the process of self-publishing has taken probably 30 hours of extra work that I wouldn't have done with my publishers - finding and coordinating the editor and cover artist; requesting reviews; figuring out how to get the book up on the different sales sites, etc. So in addition to the cost of editing and cover art, I've spent more than $1 500 worth of time on this project.

So there's an investment of well over an extra $2K (expenditures plus time) on this novel, compared to a novel that I put out with my usual publishers. I think the difference in royalties will be enough to justify this, but I don't know it. And that's for someone with a fairly established audience (albeit in a niche market).

Thanks for sharing that! It's very valuable data -- I could not have begun to guess at those numbers, myself, never having done it.

A lot of it, it seems, comes down to how much money and time the author is prepared to invest, how multi-talented the author is (some are also cover artists, frex), and how much risk they're willing to bear.

The last self-published book I read was excellent. The one before that I couldn't get past the first chapter because it was so riddled with errors, clumsy writing, and an unlikeable character. I'm wondering if, for self-published books (particularly debut books) sales are slower to get going? That, perhaps, any self published book will sell a hundred or so copies and then sputter out, while the high quality ones will sell a hundred copies and then get talked about and reviewed and recommended to readers' friends so that sales slowly but surely continue to rise? Sales beget sales, only it's slower to get going with self published books because they don't get the same degree of marketing and distribution that commercially published books do?

Jenbro
09-11-2012, 05:26 AM
Hi Jenbro.

Being in favor of what works best for you and your book is always acceptable here - so long as you get the facts straight and don't insult those who have chosen a different path. This site is all about protecting authors and helping them make informed decisions, so you'll see a few posts get shredded for repeating information known to be in error or for not supporting their assertions with links to back them up.

Honest questions and discussions are welcome, no matter which side of the fence you stand on, or even you want to try things from both angles.

Thanks. It's a massive site, and it's easy to think you've missed something when you're just getting your feet wet here.

In my case, I didn't really try for an agent with my novel.I simply don't have the personality (as in patience, etc.) to go that route. I spent almost nothing on publishing my baby, and so far, I'm thrilled with the POD source I chose.

I can see it being a mistake - going self-pub - if a writer enters into it without knowing the business; that said, there are authors who can thrive in doing it themselves. (Especially control freaks, like yours truly.;))

Thanks again for the clarification.

Al Stevens
09-11-2012, 05:39 AM
Since you posted a response to the link I deleted, I'll put the link back up:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernard-starr/the-new-vanity-publishing_b_1821945.html

I thought that Mr. Starr made excellent points, although I certainly understand the resistance to his position (generally speaking).
Thank you for reposting the link. I was wondering what all the ado was about. I found the article to be interesting and to accurately reflect a growing attitude among authors who are making similar choices. When he tried to hook his readers by calling trade publishing the new vanity publishing, he pressed a lot of hot buttons, which he probably expected to do. I wish he'd carried the analogy a little further to back up his argument. It kind of fell flat.

Medievalist
09-11-2012, 05:49 AM
I think some of my objections to Dr. Starr's piece is that he is woefully uninformed.

I note that his publications are all academic or scholarly. He has no experience as a self-publisher or in commercial publishing, as an author or production worker.

In general, unless the book in question is a textbook, scholars are not paid for scholarly publications. The idea is that, first, it is incumbent upon scholars to publish in order to give back to the general scholarly community, and, second, that publication is part of the drive towards tenure and promotion.

Speaking as someone who first self-published in 1989, who has worked in commercial and academic publishing, in editorial and production, and published in both scholarly and commercial venues, I know that many of his assertions are inaccurate.

To wit: My publisher in addition to editing, proofing, indexing, typesetting and compositing my books, has made them available in multiple formats, print and digital, and several languages, as well as prominently seeing to it that my books in bookstores and online venues.

I've received advances, and royalties, and I have not been asked to promote my books in any way, other than providing a photograph, and agreeing to report any reviews I see.

It really, truly, does depend on the book and the author, with respect to which method is best, self-publishing or commercial/trade publishing.

tamara
09-11-2012, 05:56 AM
Then things have changed. I had a choice on all my computer books starting in the mid-1980s and through about 2003. I could do the index myself (I did) or have the cost of an index charged against royalties. And this was with some heavyweight publishers.

(Of course, with such books, which reference keywords, library identifiers, namespaces, and so on, an indexer would need some serious and specific technical chops to do a proper job.)

Following a rabbit trail: My grandmother was an historian writing academic books from the 1970s through 2000 or so. She always compiled her own indices. It wasn't such a burden for her since she had been a Library of Congress indexer as her profession before retiring to write, but I was always amazed at the amount of labor and detail work that was required. I recall her saying that if she wanted the publisher to do it, she'd have to pay for it in some way, likely against royalties as you say above. And with obscure academic history books, there weren't likely to be any. :)

Captcha
09-11-2012, 06:04 AM
I really don't like to see it put it that way. It implies that writers who want trade publishers are wusses, or self-publishers are some kind of heroic adventurers. It's not "safety" that makes me want to trade publish. It's not wanting to mess with being a publisher, pure and simple.

I don't mean safety in a derogatory way - more just the opposite of gambling.

Medievalist
09-11-2012, 06:32 AM
I partially paid for my education by working as an indexer, at first with shoe boxes of 3 x 5 index cards, then with various kinds of scripts and software.

shadowwalker
09-11-2012, 06:44 AM
I don't mean safety in a derogatory way - more just the opposite of gambling.

:)

quicklime
09-11-2012, 05:02 PM
The best reason I've read so far is market reach.


what are you doing now? the odds are, for anyone, you'll be keeping your day job for smoe time, tettsuo. So for me, I can write in a couple hours a day...unless I sell my wife and kids, or get a divorce, or neglect them completely, I cannot write for a couple hours and then market and promote for a couple more, and also remain employed, fed, and with a house that has any level of upkeep--my job doesn't pay for a full-time housekeeper to cook and mow the lawn and I enjoy time with the kids and spouse.

I also have no doubt the folks with fancy-pants degrees, and careers built around successfully marketing product are apt to do a better job than I would in that spare time I don't really have.

And by the numbers, it appears trade pubbing still makes more money for the average author, and now. As James McDonald likes to mention when he shows up here (and he's done both) a $10K advance that doesn't lead to residuals but is still a $10K check, right now, is more money than $4K, paid over three years.


as it stands I have strong beliefs for me I would make more, and have more writing time, going trade. ymmv, but for me those are both pretty significant.

Tettsuo
09-11-2012, 07:06 PM
what are you doing now? the odds are, for anyone, you'll be keeping your day job for smoe time, tettsuo.
I have no illusions about publishing a book (self or trade). It would be foolish for me to quit my day job without having a means of supporting myself and my family. The only way I'd quit the day job is if writing can provide a sufficient salary to do that.

So for me, I can write in a couple hours a day...unless I sell my wife and kids, or get a divorce, or neglect them completely, I cannot write for a couple hours and then market and promote for a couple more, and also remain employed, fed, and with a house that has any level of upkeep--my job doesn't pay for a full-time housekeeper to cook and mow the lawn and I enjoy time with the kids and spouse.

I also have no doubt the folks with fancy-pants degrees, and careers built around successfully marketing product are apt to do a better job than I would in that spare time I don't really have.

And by the numbers, it appears trade pubbing still makes more money for the average author, and now. As James McDonald likes to mention when he shows up here (and he's done both) a $10K advance that doesn't lead to residuals but is still a $10K check, right now, is more money than $4K, paid over three years.

as it stands I have strong beliefs for me I would make more, and have more writing time, going trade. ymmv, but for me those are both pretty significant.
I'm not pressed for time. I'm fine working on my off-hours writing (I write at lunch, on the train ride to and from work and a few hours on the weekend) and doing what I can to promote. I have nothing against trade pub, but at the moment, I don't see it as the best choice for me the more I look into it.

My book doesn't fit neatly into any niche.
I'm a first time author.
I have most of the pieces available to me to produce a good product (access to professional editors and artists).
I'm comfortable with my current life situation.
The possibility of losing a few bucks doesn't scare me.
I love the idea of having my own business.

Outside of market reach (the most compelling reason I've read so far), I'd have no reason to go trade. But, even market reach that can be addressed if I want to make it my hobby to do so. My wife is very willing to provide assistance and encourages me to do more all the time. My friends are very much on the same path (lots of artist friends).

So unless there's something I'm missing, I don't see enough reason for me to go trade.

bearilou
09-11-2012, 07:28 PM
I love the idea of having my own business.

I won't lie, this is something that appeals to me, too.

And publishing is a business, whether it be trade or self (and both are businesses with different details that still focus on the same end). I'm finding with just my little experience so far (self-publishing shorts), there's something very gratifying about it. A different sort of gratification than the work I also do on the novels I'm writing in the hopes of landing a trade publishing contract.

I'm all about the gratification! :evil

quicklime
09-11-2012, 07:35 PM
I have no illusions about publishing a book (self or trade). It would be foolish for me to quit my day job without having a means of supporting myself and my family. The only way I'd quit the day job is if writing can provide a sufficient salary to do that.

I'm not pressed for time. I'm fine working on my off-hours writing (I write at lunch, on the train ride to and from work and a few hours on the weekend) and doing what I can to promote. I have nothing against trade pub, but at the moment, I don't see it as the best choice for me the more I look into it.
here's the thing: do you have TWICE the free time you are using to write? Or more? That isn't saying you don't, but that is a very real limitation--go half-assed, and you are sure to fail. The reason Hocking took a contract when offered one was she was sick of spending over half her time as a business manager; she wanted to be a writer.

My book doesn't fit neatly into any niche. as opposed to Water For Elephants, which tapped the rapidly-growing circus love-triangle market, or The Time Traveler's Wife, which found a home shelved under "Sci-fi tearjerkers"....wait, that didn't happen.....are you SURE your story has no niche, and isn't simply "mainstream" or something similar? The genres are pretty broad.....
I'm a first time author. as is anyone published for the first time. this is a nonissue. houses take first-timers all the time; I know four or five here, and I'm not exactly a social butterfly
I have most of the pieces available to me to produce a good product (access to professional editors and artists). maybe. a lot of folks think they do, and find out they don't
I'm comfortable with my current life situation. not sure how this matters, because neither one is likely to change your finances much. So again, a factor which isn't really a factor at all....
The possibility of losing a few bucks doesn't scare me. fair enough, though I'm not sure that's a major motivator for anyone, it is the realization they are better writers than businessmen.
I love the idea of having my own business.

Outside of market reach (the most compelling reason I've read so far), I'd have no reason to go trade. But, even market reach that can be addressed if I want to make it my hobby to do so see, here's the thing again: I thought you intended to make writing your hobby. granted, one can have multiple hobbies, but that's the limitation again--given ten hours, do you want to write a half-dozen chapters, or blog and beg reviewers to read your book, and tweet? Note there's no real answer to this, just the choice to be made....... My wife is very willing to provide assistance and encourages me to do more all the time. My friends are very much on the same path (lots of artist friends).

So unless there's something I'm missing, I don't see enough reason for me to go trade.


you can go any direction you choose, but a lot of the above sounds more like you've already hit "gospel" and you aren't as interested in hearing advantages of trade pubbing as you claim to be. The bottom line is you get to run your own boat in self-pubbing, and every bit of your baby is your own, but you are a tiny, tiny drop in a ridiculously large bucket.....and some of your free time that could be spent writing now has to go to other "housekeeping" duties. and on average, that means more time, coupled with less cash. But again, you do get total control.

I'm not all that interested in control--I don't self-medicate my kids, do my own brakes in the car, etc.....I'm good at many things, including handing off things I am not good at. So for me, trade has huge advantages, but if you really want your hand in everything that can be a powerful incentive for self-pubbing. the problem is most of the other arguments you've cited as reasons to go into self-pubbing are, on a scale of holiness, someplace between Swiss cheese and the Shroud of Turin.

Make your choice, there is not right or wrong, but make sure you aren't doing so from a position of ignorance, or from listening to a single preacher with an axe to grind.

Tettsuo
09-11-2012, 08:10 PM
you can go any direction you choose, but a lot of the above sounds more like you've already hit "gospel" and you aren't as interested in hearing advantages of trade pubbing as you claim to be. The bottom line is you get to run your own boat in self-pubbing, and every bit of your baby is your own, but you are a tiny, tiny drop in a ridiculously large bucket.....and some of your free time that could be spent writing now has to go to other "housekeeping" duties. and on average, that means more time, coupled with less cash. But again, you do get total control.
Why do so many here have this assumption that I'm not interested in hearing the virtues of trade publishing? I asked because I wanted to know. That's it. There are no ulterior motives for me here, so please can we stop affixing those false assumption in responses?

I've very much aware of the sheer volume of books out there, self and trade alike. I don't see how going trade is going to launch me on top of the piles that already exist. And yes, I've read more than just information pumped out my self-publish advocates and they often prove that 1st time writers are not a huge commodity to publishers. I understand it from the publishers perspective. First timers are unproven, and a far bigger risk that someone's who has published and has a following intact (which translate into smaller advances and less royalties for newbies).

I'm not all that interested in control--I don't self-medicate my kids, do my own brakes in the car, etc.....I'm good at many things, including handing off things I am not good at. So for me, trade has huge advantages, but if you really want your hand in everything that can be a powerful incentive for self-pubbing. the problem is most of the other arguments you've cited as reasons to go into self-pubbing are, on a scale of holiness, someplace between Swiss cheese and the Shroud of Turin.

Make your choice, there is not right or wrong, but make sure you aren't doing so from a position of ignorance, or from listening to a single preacher with an axe to grind.
Fine, you like trade publishing, I get it. Yet, I don't see how any of that relates to me directly. I'm only asking for the virtues of trade publishing, not a comparison between the two or what's wrong with trade and how awesome self it.

If you believe there's more to add to MY list other than market reach (even that is becoming a thing of the past http://www.barnesandnoble.com/help/cds2.asp?PID=8148), please feel free to add it with a nice explanation. I welcome the information.

Time is not crunch for me as I have no children yet. Upfront cost is not problem. Whether you believe I have professional editors and artist available to me is irrelevant as it's just your uninformed opinion.

With the above factors, what can trade publishing do for me? That's the question.

Cyia
09-11-2012, 08:16 PM
So unless there's something I'm missing, I don't see enough reason for me to go trade.

Then don't.

You've thought out what you want and what your capabilities are. You've heard our answers to your question and you still think self-publishing's the way to go, so give it a whirl. Hopefully, you'll get exactly what you want out of it.

quicklime
09-11-2012, 08:28 PM
With the above factors, what can trade publishing do for me? That's the question.


well, if you missed the fact it gives you more time to write, a greater odds of return and wider audience, cost, and known marketers where this is THEIR specialty, I'm not sure how I could make any of the above any clearer, Tettsuo......

kaitie
09-11-2012, 09:25 PM
Then don't.

You've thought out what you want and what your capabilities are. You've heard our answers to your question and you still think self-publishing's the way to go, so give it a whirl. Hopefully, you'll get exactly what you want out of it.

This. Tettsuo, I think it's because you started out saying that you hadn't seen any good reason, which comes across in two ways: one, that you've already made up your mind, and two, that you not much we can say will matter (because this information is already way out there, so when you say you've read and haven't seen a good reason, it can come across that way).

Honestly, what you wanted isn't a thread about whether trade publishing has any value, but a thread about whether or anyone could give you a reason for you personally. There are definite advantages to trade publishing, but that doesn't mean you have to do it. If you want to self-publish, go for it. There's no one here stopping you or trying to convince you otherwise. We're just responding to the initial question of "what are the advantages of trade publishing."

Go ahead and self-publish. Maybe your book will sell a ton of copies and you'll be happy with it. Maybe you'll hit snags you didn't expect and decide that you'll go for trade publishing with the next book. Honestly, if you want to self-publish there's nothing wrong with that.

Old Hack
09-11-2012, 09:26 PM
Why do so many here have this assumption that I'm not interested in hearing the virtues of trade publishing? I asked because I wanted to know. That's it. There are no ulterior motives for me here, so please can we stop affixing those false assumption in responses?

Tettsuo, I've just read through the whole thread and you do come across as being against trade publishing. It could be because you've read some of the more evangelistic self publishing blogs and so the language you use to talk about it carries some markers; or it could be that some of us are mistaken, and have judged you too harshly.


If you believe there's more to add to MY list other than market reach (even that is becoming a thing of the past http://www.barnesandnoble.com/help/cds2.asp?PID=8148), please feel free to add it with a nice explanation. I welcome the information.

Time is not crunch for me as I have no children yet. Upfront cost is not problem. Whether you believe I have professional editors and artist available to me is irrelevant as it's just your uninformed opinion.

With the above factors, what can trade publishing do for me? That's the question.

I suggest you re-read this thread, and pay closer attention. You've already been told, several times, what trade publishing has to offer writers, and it's a lot more than "market reach".

bearilou
09-11-2012, 10:06 PM
Okay. The way I see it there are two lists.

One list is all the things that Trade Publishing has to offer compared to Self-Publishing. It's a list. Period. Of all the things Trade can do for the author that Self-Publishing doesn't offer. It's a list with quite a few line items on it.

This was in answer to the first question you asked:

Why sign with a publisher at all? emphasis not mine.



The second list is all the things that Trade Publishing has to offer you compared to Self-Publishing. This list is substantially shorter which you pretty much answered for yourself, tbh:

With the above factors, what can trade publishing do for me? emphasis mine


Nothing else said will give you more considering you've dismissed the other list items as being unimportant or things you don't mind doing yourself or putting your own money out for.

So the list of what it has left to offer you is there. It's pretty evident. The decision should be equally easy at this point. :)

Al Stevens
09-11-2012, 10:09 PM
I'm only asking for the virtues of trade publishing, not a comparison between the two or what's wrong with trade and how awesome self it.
Virtues as compared to what? Not publishing?

Have you already made up your mind? This seems to me like a variation of the old "Why don't you...? Yes, but..." game.

http://www.amazon.com/Games-People-Play-Eric-Berne/dp/0394171349/

Jenbro
09-11-2012, 10:59 PM
I'm sure I'll regret this, but...

I can see where Tettsuo is coming from. I didn't read his comments to be those of someone who just wanted to "yeahbut" everyone, and the discussion was useful.

That said, there does seem to be tension when (some of) the TradPub devotees respond, and it's distracting. I logged off last night after feeling pretty insulted - by not only (again, just some of) the comments, but by a direct put-down against one of my own.

The way I see it, anything that opens up freedom of expression is a good thing. Indie does that, and it's the ultimate in testing one's own talent - both in writing and in marketing.

A discussion about the pros and cons of any issue will include an enhanced resistance on the side of the challenger, otherwise it's pretty much a validation of the status quo. I thought some good points were made on both sides, and that wouldn't have happened without spirited dissent.

Ducking...:flag:

Cyia
09-11-2012, 11:07 PM
Nah, no need for regrets. But, I'll find a tossing tomato smiley, if it makes you feel better. ;)

:e2tomato:

If you really feel insulted, or threatened, by a comment someone's made, then report it. The mods don't stand for that sort of thing. (Use the little triangle icon to the left of the post.)

Sheryl Nantus
09-11-2012, 11:07 PM
I logged off last night after feeling pretty insulted - by not only (again, just some of) the comments, but by a direct put-down against one of my own.


Who is "one of your own"?

I thought we were all writers here.

amergina
09-11-2012, 11:16 PM
I logged off last night after feeling pretty insulted - by not only (again, just some of) the comments, but by a direct put-down against one of my own.


In case it got lost in the shuffle...


And on a much lighter note, Welcome to AW. Sorry about jumping on your link.

I was being vehement against the article, not against the messenger. :)

Jenbro
09-11-2012, 11:47 PM
Who is "one of your own"?

I thought we were all writers here.

We are.

One of my own comments.

Jenbro
09-11-2012, 11:49 PM
Nah, no need for regrets. But, I'll find a tossing tomato smiley, if it makes you feel better. ;)

:e2tomato:

If you really feel insulted, or threatened, by a comment someone's made, then report it. The mods don't stand for that sort of thing. (Use the little triangle icon to the left of the post.)

:roll:

A tomato toss - love that!

(I did report it, but I haven't heard back yet.)

quicklime
09-11-2012, 11:50 PM
i see this going well......

Jenbro
09-11-2012, 11:51 PM
In case it got lost in the shuffle...

I did see it. It's an example of the tension I referred to.

Old Hack
09-11-2012, 11:55 PM
That said, there does seem to be tension when (some of) the TradPub devotees respond, and it's distracting. I logged off last night after feeling pretty insulted - by not only (again, just some of) the comments, but by a direct put-down against one of my own.

Jenbro, you're new here and might not know how things work, so let me give you a couple of pointers.

First up, if anyone says anything you feel crosses the line of respect, please report the post by clicking on the red triangle sign in the bottom left of the post.

Second, please read the guidelines for this room before you post here again. We ask that you use "self publishing" and "trade publishing", not "indie" or "trad" or "traditional", so that we all know what you're talking about.

Thank you. And welcome to AW.

quicklime
09-11-2012, 11:56 PM
I did see it. It's an example of the tension I referred to.


so, just so I understand, an apology is part of the tension you see here?


this is a writing board; clearly you haven't gotten to the semicolon or adverb threads...folks argue their position.

bearilou
09-12-2012, 12:06 AM
this is a writing board; clearly you haven't gotten to the semicolon or adverb threads...folks argue their position.

Full-body contact writer discussion.

It's not real until someone is bleeding....

And there's a reason why I stay away from the political discussion subforum. :chair Those folks take the hide with the hair.

Cyia
09-12-2012, 12:11 AM
It's not real until someone is bleeding....



Where else am I supposed to get ink for the Red Pen of Doom (dooooooooooooooooooooom!!!)?

bearilou
09-12-2012, 12:16 AM
Where else am I supposed to get ink for the Red Pen of Doom (dooooooooooooooooooooom!!!)?

Take it from the vein I open every day to get my word count. :e2faint:

ResearchGuy
09-12-2012, 12:22 AM
I've been reading this forum for a few months now off and on, getting all of the valuable insight of the professional here, but there's something missing and it's a very simple question I haven't seen answered clearly yet.

Why sign with a publisher at all?
...

I'd love some enlightenment on the topic.
It depends on the author's purposes and resources. See www.umbachconsulting.com/pursuit.pdf . Needs updating, but still on point. BTW, read it, print a copy, for free, a courtesy to AW folks.

--Ken

Sheryl Nantus
09-12-2012, 12:28 AM
We are.

One of my own comments.

Ah!

:e2smack:

I iz idiot...

Jenbro
09-12-2012, 12:44 AM
Jenbro, you're new here and might not know how things work, so let me give you a couple of pointers.

First up, if anyone says anything you feel crosses the line of respect, please report the post by clicking on the red triangle sign in the bottom left of the post.



I did, last night.No response (as of yet.)


Second, please read the guidelines for this room before you post here again. We ask that you use "self publishing" and "trade publishing", not "indie" or "trad" or "traditional", so that we all know what you're talking about.

Thank you. And welcome to AW.

Probably best for me to wave 'bye to this discussion anyway, and just put on my lurking hat again. Thanks.

Jenbro
09-12-2012, 12:46 AM
Ah!

:e2smack:

I iz idiot...

Not if you're a writer - we're all brilliant.;)

I tend to confuse reference when I'm typing too quickly - my fault, not yours.

Jenbro
09-12-2012, 12:47 AM
so, just so I understand, an apology is part of the tension you see here?


this is a writing board; clearly you haven't gotten to the semicolon or adverb threads...folks argue their position.

You're right. I'll bow out now.

JanDarby
09-12-2012, 01:55 AM
What strikes me is that we, as writers, don't know what we don't know about publishing, and that's something, in itself, that should be considered when deciding whether we want to do it all ourselves or work with someone who does know the ins and outs of publishing.

What I mean is, it's one thing to say, "oh, I'm good at marketing," or "I can write back-cover copy like the pros" or "I know what a good cover looks like," or "I know when an editor is good" or whatever facet of publishing we're looking at.

But, the thing is, we don't know any of that until we've done it (and even then, it's hard to tell whether success/failure was because of those skills or the quality of the book or just the zeitgeist that's inconsistent with the story). These skills are very specialized. Sure, maybe we're naturals at those skills, or we can learn them. But it's not an automatic link between "able to tell a compelling story" and "knowing how to convince readers to take a look at the compelling story." (Or whatever the skill in question is.)

It's like non-lawyers doing legal work (I just saw an ad for a new DIY legal-document service, so it's on my mind). It makes me crazy, when I hear otherwise intelligent people saying, "Oh, I'm smart, and I can read the instructions, so I can use boilerplate wills to draft my own will." Or "I'm smart, and I can read complicated sentences and look at boilerplate publishing contracts and represent myself." Or "I can read about criminal defense law and represent myself in a DUI case." Maybe their circumstances are such that it will all work out, but there's a huge element of luck and uncertainty and risk.

Plus, really, it's got nothing to do with smart or being able to learn from books. Those are necessary prerequisites for DIY learning, but they're not ENOUGH in most cases. Because the problem is, the layperson reading about legal documents/litigation, doesn't know the right questions to ask. Something that seems innocuous in the text, so the layperson will just skip over it to get to the meat of the matter, turns out to be the thing that loses them the whole case. There's a lot of background stuff that lawyers understand, in terms of how the legal world works, that's taken for granted in texts on a specific issue. Until you know that background material, you can't effectively use the topic-specific material.

And I think it's much the same with publishing. Most people going into self-publishing don't really know that much about marketing or cover copy (a form of marketing) or graphics (in the context of what really works, as opposed to what we personally like -- e.g., I insisted on "no people" on the cover of my first book, and while the cover was absolutely gorgeous, it really wasn't very effective as marketing -- entirely my fault, not the artist's or the publisher's) or just about anything else that goes into publishing a book, rather than simply uploading a text file.

Anyway, I just think that's an important caveat, that a person without a publishing background, doesn't really know what he/she doesn't know about publishing, even after doing the research, and doesn't really know what his/her skills in the necessary areas will turn out to be. It's that ... I don't want to call it ignorance, because that connotes fault, so let's say, "uncertainty" -- It's that uncertainty that needs to be factored into the decision, along with all the other, more tangible considerations. We can never completely predict what the market's reaction to a book will be, but I think there's a different level of uncertainty when the publisher is someone who's never published a book before than when the publisher has made millions of dollars by publishing books. Different people have different levels of comfort with uncertainty, which can factor into their relative comfort with DIY publishing. Anyone who can't handle uncertainty at all should probably quit writing for anything more than their own amusement; anyone who can handle only small amounts would be more comfortable with trade publishing, and anyone who thrives on uncertainty might well be more comfortable with self-publishing.

Scribble Orca
09-12-2012, 03:20 AM
Here's why this successful self-pubbed author, who morphed into a recognised indie publisher of other people's works as well, has declined to go with a bigger publisher - and it all boils down to the advance and freedom, folks.

http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/nonfiction/intsw.htm

bearilou
09-12-2012, 03:51 AM
Here's why this successful self-pubbed author, who morphed into a recognised indie publisher of other people's works as well, has declined to go with a bigger publisher - and it all boils down to the advance and freedom, folks.

http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/nonfiction/intsw.htm


NG: You've taken an unusual route to finding your audience -- would you recommend self-publishing for other authors?

SW: No. It's a nightmare. Honestly, there is so much to learn. The sceptic in me looks back and thinks: you were mad to do it that way, but the final decision came about via an informed choice.

Hmmm...kind of like what many have been saying in this thread all along...*chin stroke*

I like to see someone who has managed this degree of success! Good on him!

Nightmelody
09-12-2012, 04:39 AM
I haven't found self publishing to be a nightmare. It is a lot less stressful than working with some small publishers who quit communicating, quit sending statements and checks etc etc. I've had some good ones, some bad ones and some horrible ones.

I learned a lot with small presses(digital romance presses). Some of the knowledge was learned by hard knocks.

In contrast, self publishing seems so simple. If you don't like an editor, don't hire them again. Don't like a cover? Change it. Fiddle with price, blurb, keywords, bundles.

The money is much much better than what I got from small publishers. I'm looking forward to Christmas sales.

I write speculative romance novellas, sexy but not really erotic romance, so I wouldn't be looking at Big Six publishers anyway. Only one of my current novellas is new, all the rest are back-list from dead or dying e-publishers.

I find self publishing exciting and fun.

Captcha
09-12-2012, 04:45 AM
I think Nightmelody has a good point. It's been said before, but it's definitely better to be self-published than poorly published by someone else.

For an author just starting out (and depending somewhat on genre), I'd put the order of desirability, from best to worst, as:

Big trade publisher;
One of the top smaller trade publisher (including selected e-pubs);
Self-publishing;
One of the reputable but weaker-selling small publishers;
Trunking the book;
Publishing with a sketchy publisher;
Vanity publishing.

I'm not saying those are the choices someone else should make or that they'd be true for all stages of someone's career, but if I were asked for advice, that's what I'd say.

Old Hack
09-12-2012, 09:58 AM
Captcha, you forgot to include this option:

Not being published at all.

Nightmelody, I'm glad you're enjoying your publishing journey so very much. It's great to hear success stories like yours.

Old Hack
09-12-2012, 10:14 AM
Here's why this successful self-pubbed author, who morphed into a recognised indie publisher of other people's works as well, has declined to go with a bigger publisher - and it all boils down to the advance and freedom, folks.

http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/nonfiction/intsw.htm

The interview dates from October 2005.

Amazon lists 22 books from the publisher he set up, Crowswing Books, the most recent of which was published in April 2008.

Captcha
09-12-2012, 11:22 AM
Captcha, you forgot to include this option:

Not being published at all.

Nightmelody, I'm glad you're enjoying your publishing journey so very much. It's great to hear success stories like yours.

That's what I meant by trunking the book...

I think sometimes it's hard to accept that a book will never be published, easier to accept that it's best not to publish it at this time.

Rubay H.
09-12-2012, 11:35 AM
I find self publishing exciting and fun.

Yeah, same here.

I'm just happy to be living in a time where there are so many choices available for writers and readers.

evilrooster
09-12-2012, 11:40 AM
I did, last night.No response (as of yet.)

It's worth pointing out, not just to you but to others reading this, that we mods don't do all of our work "onstage".

Depending on the problem and the resolution, you may not see a direct response on-thread. That doesn't mean that there hasn't been back-channel discussion, in reppies and PMs. Or, if the conversation moves on to a more natural resolution -- if people come, without intervention, to a better and more constructive mutual understanding, we may leave the matter be rather than pick at scabs.

Our goal is less the punishment of the wicked than the promotion of good conversation. That leads to different choices but does, we like to think, also lead to a place where worthwhile and interesting things are said.

Old Hack
09-12-2012, 12:06 PM
Speak for yourself, Rooster. I'm all about the punishment.

MmeGuillotine
09-12-2012, 12:58 PM
I'd agree that there are instances when trade publishing can mean being very badly published. Before I self published it, my second book was about to be released by an e publishing arm of a fairly well respected small UK publishing press who will remain nameless.

On the plus side, I worked with a fabulous editor and also got to hobnob with some very nice writers in the same 'stable' BUT the publishers themselves were just not great and caused a lot of upset for various reasons. The whole thing had its inevitable collapse just before my book was due to come out and it was with much relief that I immediately got my book rights back again as I would actually have HATED being published by them.

I think that self publishing is INFINITELY better than being trade published by a shady outfit like that. I'm thinking that I'd kind of like to try and get an agent and publisher for my future works (note that I already earn enough from my self publishing to give up my day job and write full time - however just publishing to Kindle clearly isn't delivering my books into the hands of most of the people who want them so I need to make an effort to broaden my distribution to actual shops) and have to keep reminding myself that not all publishers are like that.

evilrooster
09-12-2012, 01:01 PM
Speak for yourself, Rooster. I'm all about the punishment.

Oh, great, now we've lost the element of surprise.

I was lulling them into a false sense of security, though I don't know how likely I was to pull it off, given your Trigger Happy Kitteh avvie.

stranger
09-12-2012, 03:37 PM
For an author just starting out (and depending somewhat on genre), I'd put the order of desirability, from best to worst, as:

Big trade publisher;
One of the top smaller trade publisher (including selected e-pubs);
Self-publishing;
One of the reputable but weaker-selling small publishers;
Trunking the book;
Publishing with a sketchy publisher;
Vanity publishing.



I like this list and agree fully.

Edit: Provided you are 100% confident that the book is good enough to be published.

Old Hack
09-12-2012, 04:10 PM
I like this list and agree fully.

Edit: Provided you are 100% confident that the book is good enough to be published.

Which is a whole other can of worms. It's impossible for us all to judge that one, I fear.

I don't suppose anyone self publishes their work if they think it's a pile of dollop, and yet every week I receive self published books to review which just aren't good enough. Many of them are horribly bad.

It's terribly sad, but I don't know if there's anything to be done about it. Ideas, anyone?

shadowwalker
09-12-2012, 05:18 PM
It's terribly sad, but I don't know if there's anything to be done about it. Ideas, anyone?

I haven't been over there, so have no idea - but do very many SPs post in SYW? I would think, at least for the members here, that would be a great resource particularly before self-publishing.

Katie Elle
09-12-2012, 06:00 PM
The interview dates from October 2005.

Might as well be ancient Rome. Pre- and post- Kindle 2 and Nook are two different worlds for "self-publishing."

shaldna
09-12-2012, 06:04 PM
I think Nightmelody has a good point. It's been said before, but it's definitely better to be self-published than poorly published by someone else.

For an author just starting out (and depending somewhat on genre), I'd put the order of desirability, from best to worst, as:

Big trade publisher;
One of the top smaller trade publisher (including selected e-pubs);
Self-publishing;
One of the reputable but weaker-selling small publishers;
Trunking the book;
Publishing with a sketchy publisher;
Vanity publishing.

I'm not saying those are the choices someone else should make or that they'd be true for all stages of someone's career, but if I were asked for advice, that's what I'd say.

I don't necessarily think that vanity pubishing is a bad thing. A reputable company who do exactly what they say they will at a reasonable price can be a good choice for some people.

What I have a problem with is people paying many thousands of pounds for an inferior product.

Al Stevens
09-12-2012, 06:15 PM
I don't suppose anyone self publishes their work if they think it's a pile of dollop, and yet every week I receive self published books to review which just aren't good enough. Many of them are horribly bad.

It's terribly sad, but I don't know if there's anything to be done about it. Ideas, anyone?
I fear that there is nothing to be done about it. When public expression of the arts is made readily available to the public themselves, a lot of karaoke results.

stranger
09-12-2012, 06:28 PM
I don't suppose anyone self publishes their work if they think it's a pile of dollop, and yet every week I receive self published books to review which just aren't good enough. Many of them are horribly bad.

It's terribly sad, but I don't know if there's anything to be done about it. Ideas, anyone?

Don't think there's anything to do done about it but I think it works reasonably well as is. Buyers have reviews/cover art/blurb/sample to make a decision. And Amazon's algorithms highlight books that are selling well at the expense of those that don't.

Terie
09-12-2012, 06:46 PM
Don't think there's anything to do done about it but I think it works reasonably well as is.

Huh? I don't call really good self-pubbed books sinking in the mire of all the rubbish 'working reasonably well'. And I'm positive that a heck of a lot of perfectly good self-pubbed books do exactly that.

I do, however, agree that, unfortunately, there's probably not much to be done about it.

stranger
09-12-2012, 06:58 PM
Huh? I don't call really good self-pubbed books sinking in the mire of all the rubbish 'working reasonably well'. And I'm positive that a heck of a lot of perfectly good self-pubbed books do exactly that.


I agree that there are plenty of good self-pubbed books that don't get noticed with this system. But there also are plenty that do. Many of which would have languished in a desk drawer without the present system.

Katie Elle
09-12-2012, 08:28 PM
There are many good books that get missed by "trade publishing" as well. How many books did Amanda Hocking have in her desk that had been rejected by publishers?

Sheryl Nantus
09-12-2012, 08:51 PM
There are many good books that get missed by "trade publishing" as well. How many books did Amanda Hocking have in her desk that had been rejected by publishers?

Don't know.

What's your point?

ResearchGuy
09-12-2012, 08:55 PM
I don't necessarily think that vanity pubishing is a bad thing. A reputable company who do exactly what they say they will at a reasonable price can be a good choice for some people. . . .
Vanity publishing is, by its nature, deceptive, and hence by its nature a bad thing. No transaction is good if one of the parties undertakes it under misperceptions. A straight-up subsidy publisher that makes no bones about selling publishing services, fine. But those that fool the author -- exploit his or her vanity -- into thinking the book has been legitimately, competitively published, whether or not requiring payment up front or making money on the back end by selling books and often worthless 'services' to the author, NOT fine.

Not everyone draws this distinction between subsidy publishing and outright vanity publishing (by its nature entirely deceptive), but I do, and I've spelled out why elsewhere. That said, there is a great deal of gray area in which subsidy publishers shade the truth or exploit authors' ignorance of how legitimate commercial publishing works. I cannot tell you how many times I have had to explain that legitimate commercial publishers pay the author, not the other way around. Even the less deceptive subsidy publishers often exploit that misperception.

FWIW, I was saddened recently to see an acquaintance's new book published by one of the large subsidy publishers. It is nonfiction, in an area she knows very well, and she is an able, experienced writer. The subsidy publisher gave it one of the cheesiest, most unattractive covers I have EVER seen. She would have done better to legitimately self-publish, and she has many friends who could have helped her do it at a far lower cost and with better product as a result. (For that matter, I would probably have, again, broken my promise to stop publishing books by people who are not myself or my immediate family and have paid her for publishing rights and have paid every cost of publishing, with far better quality, if I had known.) But I digress . . .

That said, if someone knows what he or she is doing and what he or she is getting for the money, and what the alternatives are, and has the book published by a subsidy press and gets what is being paid for, sure, nothing wrong with that.

My views, for whatever they are worth . . .

--Ken

Cyia
09-12-2012, 09:31 PM
There are many good books that get missed by "trade publishing" as well. How many books did Amanda Hocking have in her desk that had been rejected by publishers?


Better question -- how many did she have in her desk that she knew weren't ready to be published? AHocking self-pubbed something she'd queried for trade publication, and I'm sure there's a reason that title was the one she sent out on submission.

Just because a popular/talented writer has unpublished books doesn't mean those books should be published.

Old Hack
09-12-2012, 10:12 PM
I agree that so long as writers understand what they're getting it's fine if they pay vanity publishers for publication: but from my view, they rarely do, even when they think they're up to speed with everything.

For example, I've been sent many books for review which have been published through a vanity press / self publishing service provider / whatever you want to call it, whose authors have paid the service provider to edit the book. Not one of those books have been appropriately edited: they might have had a superficial copy edit, which has corrected most of the spelling and punctuation of the books concerned, but the facts hadn't been checked and the grammar in them was all over the place, and the resulting prose was flat and dull; and not one of them had been edited for pace, plot, characterisation or any of those other important things which proper editing takes care of.

Then there are the marketing and distribution packages they buy, which don't really market or distribute their books. Gah.

I can't help wanting better for writers, and wanting writers to be better informed.

kaitie
09-12-2012, 10:54 PM
For example, I've been sent many books for review which have been published through a vanity press / self publishing service provider / whatever you want to call it, whose authors have paid the service provider to edit the book. Not one of those books have been appropriately edited: they might have had a superficial copy edit, which has corrected most of the spelling and punctuation of the books concerned, but the facts hadn't been checked and the grammar in them was all over the place, and the resulting prose was flat and dull; and not one of them had been edited for pace, plot, characterisation or any of those other important things which proper editing takes care of.


But here's the problem with this: Good editing doesn't help at all if the writer can't write well yet. Let's say I take a person and give them the best possible editing advice there is. I mark errors, artistic problems, ways to improve the voice and writing, point out problems with the plot, and so on. It's then up to the author to take those comments and make the changes. Short of an editor actually rewriting the entire thing herself, there is no way for an editor to take an author who isn't up to snuff and get them there.

I teach writing and I see this all the time with my students. Some students can take my comments and make a terrible essay a good one, but they're still limited by their skills. My hope is that they then are able to learn from that one and improve a little more next time, and so on.

I just feel like if an author isn't able to actually pull off the writing yet, it would be nearly impossible for an editor to get it up to a publishable level, even if they were the best in the world. I suppose an author could spend thousands and work with an editor for several passes, but even then, I'm not sure it would work.

It goes back to the problem that a lot of people (especially new writers) aren't able to recognize that their work has problems, and as writers we invest so much time and energy that it feels awful when it all ends up being "for nothing." Obviously, I think it's not just for nothing (the learning process matters), but I understand the feeling that when you've worked that hard, something should come of it.

Old Hack
09-12-2012, 11:52 PM
I agree, Kaitie. And I am of the opinion that poorly-edited good writing is far more readable than well-edited poor writing.

Most of the self published books I've been sent for review have featured poorly-edited poor writing, which is a whole other problem.

Tettsuo
09-12-2012, 11:53 PM
But here's the problem with this: Good editing doesn't help at all if the writer can't write well yet. Let's say I take a person and give them the best possible editing advice there is. I mark errors, artistic problems, ways to improve the voice and writing, point out problems with the plot, and so on. It's then up to the author to take those comments and make the changes. Short of an editor actually rewriting the entire thing herself, there is no way for an editor to take an author who isn't up to snuff and get them there.

I teach writing and I see this all the time with my students. Some students can take my comments and make a terrible essay a good one, but they're still limited by their skills. My hope is that they then are able to learn from that one and improve a little more next time, and so on.

I just feel like if an author isn't able to actually pull off the writing yet, it would be nearly impossible for an editor to get it up to a publishable level, even if they were the best in the world. I suppose an author could spend thousands and work with an editor for several passes, but even then, I'm not sure it would work.

It goes back to the problem that a lot of people (especially new writers) aren't able to recognize that their work has problems, and as writers we invest so much time and energy that it feels awful when it all ends up being "for nothing." Obviously, I think it's not just for nothing (the learning process matters), but I understand the feeling that when you've worked that hard, something should come of it.
Being a poor writer doesn't preclude someone from having success in writing.

Katie Elle
09-12-2012, 11:59 PM
There are many good books that get missed by "trade publishing" as well. How many books did Amanda Hocking have in her desk that had been rejected by publishers?
Don't know.

What's your point?

I'm sorry if I wasn't being clear. Ms. Hocking's success was based entirely on books that had been previously rejected by trade publishing. The question was rhetorical and based on people knowing her history.

My point was that good works (or at least works that have an ability to generate a large number of sales) can languish regardless of which route an author takes.

Old Hack
09-13-2012, 12:04 AM
Being a poor writer doesn't preclude someone from having success in writing.

I'm not referring to writers who can't write technically good prose: I'm referring to writers who can't write comprehensible sentences. There's a world of difference.


I'm sorry if I wasn't being clear. Ms. Hocking's success was based entirely on books that had been previously rejected by trade publishing. The question was rhetorical and based on people knowing her history.

My point was that good works (or at least works that have an ability to generate a large number of sales) can languish regardless of which route an author takes.

I thought Ms Hocking had tried to get a trade deal for some of her books, but that she put others straight to self publishing.

kaitie
09-13-2012, 12:05 AM
Being a poor writer doesn't preclude someone from having success in writing.

Well...no, because luckily writing is something that can be learned and improved. So a person can be a poor writer, and go on to be a good writer. Trust me, I used to suck. I've spent years becoming as good as I am, and even now I'm far from perfect. And yes, sometimes even poor writing can sell well, though when I mean poor writing, I'm talking about the sort that is unclear, doesn't flow, is difficult to follow, or is all tell, no show, and so on. I've definitely come across books that sell incredibly well that make me wonder why I'm even doing this, but that's not really what I mean. I think, on the scale of things, mediocre writing can sell well and be successful, but poor writing doesn't. What you see on a bookshelf that is often qualified as "poor" is usually somewhere more around the high middle of the pack, it's just that we only see the top chunk of the pack, so it makes it look worse than it is. Does that make sense?

I see a huge range of writing with my students, and with people I've helped out and tutored over the years. I think mediocre writing can probably be made pretty decent with an editor, but poor writing really can't.

Tettsuo
09-13-2012, 12:08 AM
I'm not referring to writers who can't write technically good prose: I'm referring to writers who can't write comprehensible sentences. There's a world of difference.
100% agree. If you're unable to get your point across, then the tale is lost and reaches no one.

It's like music. Some artists are technically brilliant, but can't sell their music at all. Others know nothing about the technical aspects, but their music is driven by passion that many can relate to.

Then there are those that propped up by the industry that have neither.

parumpdragon
09-13-2012, 12:17 AM
It's like music. Some artists are technically brilliant, but can't sell their music at all. Others know nothing about the technical aspects, but their music is driven by passion that many can relate to.

Then there are those that propped up by the industry that have neither.

I certainly hope this is true for books! :D

I am getting e-published by a publisher, but I don't have an e-reader. I'm old fashioned and would love to hold the pages of my book in my hand [even if I have to visit Createspace to do it]. Not complaining by the way, just wondering how to go about getting the paper part ;)

I know, I think that's everyone's dream. ;)

benbradley
09-13-2012, 02:12 AM
I'm not referring to writers who can't write technically good prose: I'm referring to writers who can't write comprehensible sentences. There's a world of difference.
OMG. This is getting into the writerly equivalent of TMI.

Unimportant
09-13-2012, 06:35 AM
I'm not referring to writers who can't write technically good prose: I'm referring to writers who can't write comprehensible sentences. There's a world of difference.
If anyone has never seen the latter, take a wander (http://www.regretsy.com/2012/09/01/weekend-flashback-a-doliph-tale/) through Regretsy (http://www.regretsy.com/2012/09/06/buy-h-andm-aed/).

Unimportant
09-13-2012, 06:36 AM
I haven't been over there, so have no idea - but do very many SPs post in SYW? I would think, at least for the members here, that would be a great resource particularly before self-publishing.
Some do; I recall critiquing one SP's first chapter, anyhow.

Old Hack
09-13-2012, 10:44 AM
As most of you know, I review self published books. What you might not know is that I have only reviewed about a third of the books I've received, because the other two thirds are so bad I don't have the heart to expose them; and that most of the books which come my way have had some serious money spent on them. The authors almost all claim that I'll not find any mistakes in their books because they've had them professionally edited; they contact me via costly PR services; they've paid to have all sorts of extra things added to their publication packages, but the one thing they've not managed to get right is the writing.

I've thought carefully before posting this, but I can't see a better way to get my point across; and I hope that we'll be able to remember AW's one rule while discussing this. But here's an example (http://theselfpublishingreview.wordpress.com/2009/10/15/romancing-the-claddagh-by-ruby-dominguez/) of a book I did review which has had all that money spent on it. Read the extract at the end of my review. And then read this review (http://theselfpublishingreview.wordpress.com/2009/09/17/the-peruke-maker-by-ruby-dominguez/), of another book by the same author. They both were "professionally edited", went through the hands of a "script consultant", arrived with me via a press release from Bostick Communications (I think that's right), and then were published via Outskirts Press, a pay-to-play company.

Would this writer have been published by a good trade publisher? Nope. Not a chance. Not at this stage, at least. Is she going to sell enough copies to earn back all that money she's spent on her books? I very much doubt it.

This is the sort of book I'm talking about when I say that most self published books are awful, and when I say that writers are paying for things they shouldn't; and this writer is one of a few hundred of this standard I've encountered through my review blog.

Please remember our rule to respect your fellow writer if you comment on this: I don't want the author concerned to be the focus of our discussions, and won't put up with any rudeness. I hope that's clear.

sarahdalton
09-13-2012, 03:15 PM
I've been reading this forum for a few months now off and on, getting all of the valuable insight of the professional here, but there's something missing and it's a very simple question I haven't seen answered clearly yet.

Why sign with a publisher at all?

At the moment, I'm putting the finishing touches on my first sci-fi novel and I'm still not sure of what direction I'll take my baby. I've read all the virtues of self-publishing, but I've yet to get the full breakdown on the other side of the coin. Outside of personal validation (which I don't really care about) I see no reason to go the traditional route of sending out queries and signing with agents in the hopes of landing a deal. I mean, I can fork over the cash for an editor and I've already lined up a friend who is a great graphic artist to produce a cover for me. So is there anything beyond that I'd need to enlist the aid of a publisher? Seriously, as a first timer, I don't expect to get much or any publicity from a publisher for my first novel, so that's out the window.

Sure, I think I'll be cool to sign with a publisher, but beyond the cool factor... why?

I'd love some enlightenment on the topic.

Hey Tettsuo. I've recently self-published so can have a go at answering your question from my point of view.

I haven't read all the way through this thread, it looks like there's been a bit of a heated debate going on. If what I say is repeating other arguments then I apologise.

I think you need a good reason to self publish. If you don't have a good reason, then you really should query first.

The reason I decided to self publish is related to my genre and the timing. It's a glutted genre and whilst I did query some agents (not enough according to some AWers) I decided that attempting the trade publishing route was a lost cause. But, I didn't want my book to never have been read, I'd put too much hard work into it, so I decided to self-publish.

An editor is important, yes. But I would suggest that before you pay out for an editor to enlist the help of Beta readers. You might need to re-draft before getting help from an editor. Or you might prefer to put the money towards a proof-reader instead. I think, as I write the sequel to my book, that I am going to use Beta readers and a proofreader this time around.

Research your genre well. You need a book cover that will stand out. This is really important. But, remember that you don't need a spend a lot of money on this. Shop around. Some artists will have sales and you can grab a bargain. The cover in my sig cost $85 which is a reasonable price.

Don't expect to get your money back. At least not straight away. And do expect to have to do a lot of networking. You will have to spend your time on sites like Goodreads, Twitter, writing forums, Library Thing. You need to contact people for reviews and brace yourself for their opinions.

Most of all you need to have self awareness. You need to listen to the responses from people who read your book. If you are a bad writer someone will tell you and you need to be able to listen to that. On the plus side, you can improve, and if you take publishing your book seriously and listen to the advice given, you should improve.

I hope this is useful for you. I self published just over a month ago. The sales haven't been great but my reviews and responses from others are really encouraging. I think it takes time and patience.

Good luck :)