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View Full Version : Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing



vicky271
03-13-2018, 06:16 PM
Greetings! I'm pretty sure this is in the wrong area, but i wasn't able to determine where to post so I made my best guess! Recently it's come to my attention that publishing industries won't want to take my books under their wing (books referring to the current set of series) because the first series have a different set of characters than the second, and both series are interlinked. Likewise i've decided that i'll have to self-publish these series.

If I want to self-publish, i'll have to open up a patreon account dedicated solely to my writing so I can support myself. Since I'm a student at this time, i feel like i should start the patreon account now and build up a profile so by the time i'm out of school, i'll have done something with it. But i'm not sure what I should do.

Likewise, if you self-publish now and want to go the traditional route in the future, are you allowed? How much is the initial cost if you want to hire a professional editor, graphics artist for the cover, etc.?

mrsmig
03-13-2018, 06:33 PM
"...the first series have a different set of characters than the second, and both series are interlinked..."

Are you talking about something like Terry Pratchett's wildly successful Discworld series, where each book focused on a different character subset but shared the same world and a few crossover characters? You may be too hasty in deciding that trade publishers won't be interested.

Maggie Maxwell
03-13-2018, 06:49 PM
"...the first series have a different set of characters than the second, and both series are interlinked..."

Are you talking about something like Terry Pratchett's wildly successful Discworld series, where each book focused on a different character subset but shared the same world and a few crossover characters? You may be too hasty in deciding that trade publishers won't be interested.

Or the wildly successful Percy Jackson series and the Heroes of Olympus series? Don't sell yourself short too soon. If they're good books, publishers want them. Doesn't matter how the series tie together.

lizmonster
03-13-2018, 06:49 PM
First - you'll find answers to a lot of your practical questions by looking around the forums. (The cost one in particular is going to vary by region, and by what type of service you're looking for.)

But I want to poke at a couple of things here.


Recently it's come to my attention that publishing industries won't want to take my books under their wing (books referring to the current set of series) because the first series have a different set of characters than the second, and both series are interlinked.

How did this come to your attention? Because while it's not necessarily common, it's not unheard of. You haven't given much detail here, but I'd question this assertion.


If I want to self-publish, i'll have to open up a patreon account dedicated solely to my writing so I can support myself.

Are you planning on this being your only source of income?

There are some specific genres that can do screamingly well in self-pub (erotica is one, AFAIK, and romance to a lesser extent), but ramp-up time is much longer with novel-length work. And the self-pub success stories tend to come out of Amazon, not Patreon. (The successful Patreon folks I know of were well-known before their Patreons took off.)

Many well-known authors (self- or trade-published) are still working day jobs out of necessity, or are subsidized by other sources. My advice is always: don't quit your day job until you know you can quit your day job.


Since I'm a student at this time, i feel like i should start the patreon account now and build up a profile so by the time i'm out of school, i'll have done something with it. But i'm not sure what I should do.

What can you do that you think people will be willing to pay for? Do that. :)


Likewise, if you self-publish now and want to go the traditional route in the future, are you allowed?

Yes, you're allowed. :) You will, however, not be a debut author, which can be a draw for a trade (not "traditional" - self-pub is traditional as well!) publisher. And your self-pub sales, depending on the circumstances, could affect the risk assessment of an agent/publisher looking at your work.

vicky271
03-13-2018, 07:03 PM
"...the first series have a different set of characters than the second, and both series are interlinked..."

Are you talking about something like Terry Pratchett's wildly successful Discworld series, where each book focused on a different character subset but shared the same world and a few crossover characters? You may be too hasty in deciding that trade publishers won't be interested.

Both series were suppose to be written as one, but after finding out that changing the characters halfway through a series is a bad idea, i opted to split the series into two interlinked series. Unfortunately, in the original six book series a character was suppose to disappear with an artifact after the end of Book #1 and not reappear until book #4. He plays a vital role in the second series, but i feel like i should rewrite that now. There's stuff in Book #1-3 (series #1) that doesn't get resolution until the second series. And yes, the character thing too ;)

Hmmmm that sounds encouraging. Perhaps, for now, I'll consider either publishing method an option. That's far in the future anyway ^^

mrsmig
03-13-2018, 07:25 PM
Have you actually finished writing a book yet? If you haven't, all this planning/deciding may be getting your cart well before your horse.

Polenth
03-13-2018, 11:34 PM
Greetings! I'm pretty sure this is in the wrong area, but i wasn't able to determine where to post so I made my best guess! Recently it's come to my attention that publishing industries won't want to take my books under their wing (books referring to the current set of series) because the first series have a different set of characters than the second, and both series are interlinked. Likewise i've decided that i'll have to self-publish these series.

I doubt that having two interlinked series would be a dealbreaker. Particularly as you wouldn't pitch all the books at once. You'd pitch the first book of the first series.


If I want to self-publish, i'll have to open up a patreon account dedicated solely to my writing so I can support myself. Since I'm a student at this time, i feel like i should start the patreon account now and build up a profile so by the time i'm out of school, i'll have done something with it. But i'm not sure what I should do.

Patreon is not required for self-publishing. You can self-publish things through it, but you're likely to make more money from creating ebooks for Amazon and other retailers. It's difficult to have a big enough fanbase to earn a living wage from Patreon. I make enough on Patreon to cover my website fees, but it wouldn't feed me.


Likewise, if you self-publish now and want to go the traditional route in the future, are you allowed? How much is the initial cost if you want to hire a professional editor, graphics artist for the cover, etc.?

You can sometimes sell novels to publishers that you've self-published, but it's more likely to happen for books that are very successful. If you're hoping for a trade publishing deal, it's better to try that route first. Self-publish because you want to self-publish.

rwm4768
03-14-2018, 09:02 AM
If they're good books, publishers want them.

True. But just because publishers want them doesn't mean they'll pick them out of the slush pile. It's nothing against agent and publishers. They're simply inundated with submissions.

In the end, though, the same skills are required in both trade-publishing and self-publishing. You have to write a good book. You have to have clean writing with very few errors (there are exceptions in both worlds, but the stories have to be that much better to compensate). You have to write an effective query or blurb (which are similar but also quite different).

Even general marketing skills apply in both realms. Publishers will obviously do a substantial amount of marketing, but some of it will still be up to you as the author.

The biggest difference is that your gatekeepers are now readers instead of agents and editors if you self-publish. This can work out well for some and not so well for others.

vicky271
03-14-2018, 04:18 PM
Thank you guys! I started writing the first novel, but i can tell i have a long ways to go before it's finished. It'll give me a lot of time to think about this!

cool pop
03-14-2018, 08:17 PM
Likewise, if you self-publish now and want to go the traditional route in the future, are you allowed? How much is the initial cost if you want to hire a professional editor, graphics artist for the cover, etc.?

Course you're allowed to do whatever you want with a book you self-published because you own all the rights and have no one to answer to legally but yourself. So going from self-publishing to trade publishing is no issue (if you can get into trade publishing, it's up to luck, fate and a whole lot of other things out of a writer's control).

Now going from trade to self-published can be difficult because when you are contracted to a publisher, they hold the rights. Some publishers allow authors to self-publish while publishing books with them but many don't. Some have clauses where you cannot self-publish or write for other publishers while having a contract with them.

As for how much things cost to self-publish, the price can range from 0 to thousands. Some authors spend nothing to self-publish or a small amount. Some do everything themselves without hiring others and some barter services. Many writers are too broke to pay for a lot of things but they still manage to self-publish. Bartering is popular in the SP community. People trade services to help each other when they can't afford to pay a lot of money for services.

You definitely don't have to spend thousands to self-publish but some do. It's all based on a person's skill level, what they can or can't do or willing to learn. Many authors can't afford editors so they rely on bartering, editing software, beta readers, and some editors will work with you. Some editors are not very expensive but some can be extremely high. All it takes is becoming more familiar with self-publishing and doing research and things become easier. How much an individual spends on his or her book varies. It depends on what services they need and who they use and the writer's financial situation.

One thing I would say is don't get into self-publishing thinking that's a way to get to trade publishing. Most authors who self-publish now do it because that's the route they want to take for the long term. Don't think just because you self-publish that your self-published work will have any impact on whether or not you get trade published. Unless your SP book becomes a breakout, 50 Shades of Grey-type hit, you won't be getting offers from agents and publishers just because you put a book out. You will need to write additional work to be trade published and work that route to pursue that method. If your SP book doesn't sell then no one is going to offer you a contract for it.

It's about what you really want. If your heart is on trade publishing then that's the route you need to pursue from the beginning because it can take YEARS to make a dent in trade publishing IF you actually do. There are no guarantees. Trying to find an agent and publisher is a slow, slow process for most.

My point is, don't SP thinking it's going to be the gateway to trade publishing. That's not how it works unless your SP book ends up exploding.

The most important thing you can do is research and learn the industry before even attempting to make a move. Keep asking questions and visit all types of sites. There are many Facebook groups for self-published authors, blogs, and forums like this one and Kboards which is probably the biggest for self-published authors. There are also forums on Reddit. Read and research as much as you can.

Just my 2 cents (Ex-big-five author turned self-publisher)

Good luck!

lizmonster
03-14-2018, 08:43 PM
Now going from trade to self-published can be difficult because when you are contracted to a publisher, they hold the rights. Some publishers allow authors to self-publish while publishing books with them but many don't. Some have clauses where you cannot self-publish or write for other publishers while having a contract with them.

This is getting into good contract vs. bad contract stuff, but personally I wouldn't sign with a publisher who told me where I could or couldn't publish. They're paying for the rights to publish a specific work or works, and that's it.

Having said that, there are contractual restrictions I'd consider reasonable, but only around related work. (If I choose to publish a novel-length book in the same series with a different publisher, for example, I have to wait a specified period of time before doing so.)

There are bad contracts out there, which is why it's worth doing your homework before signing with a publisher (having an agent can be a MASSIVE help on this front). But a good place to start is not to sign away rights to something that has nothing to do with what the publisher has actually bought.

rusoluchka
03-14-2018, 08:43 PM
Thank you guys! I started writing the first novel, but i can tell i have a long ways to go before it's finished. It'll give me a lot of time to think about this!

Before thinking about traditional v self publishing, focus on writing the ms, then revising. Then write more mss. Don't worry about anything else except craft and developing your voice. Hold on to your debut until you're ready. You only get one debut. Make sure the writing is the best it can be.

AW Admin
03-14-2018, 08:55 PM
Course you're allowed to do whatever you want with a book you self-published because you own all the rights and have no one to answer to legally but yourself. So going from self-publishing to trade publishing is no issue (if you can get into trade publishing, it's up to luck, fate and a whole lot of other things out of a writer's control).

Now going from trade to self-published can be difficult because when you are contracted to a publisher, they hold the rights. Some publishers allow authors to self-publish while publishing books with them but many don't. Some have clauses where you cannot self-publish or write for other publishers while having a contract with them.!

They only hold the specific rights you assign to them. Don't sign a contract that grabs all rights and/or that doesn't have a specific time limit.

Rights include things like derivative works, subsequent non-related works, film rights, international rights, audio rights, ebook rights, translations . . . this is one of the areas where having a good professional, knowledgeable agent negotiating for you is an asset.

ASeiple
03-15-2018, 07:01 PM
If you go the self-publishing route, please understand that odds are good your first book won't be a hit. Nor will your third, or your fifth, or maybe even your tenth or twentieth.

This is okay.

Because sooner or later, if you keep writing, your odds get way, way better. And like any skill, the more you practice, the more you improve. And the more you improve, the better your odds. And the more books you have out there, the more they sell when you DO have a hit. It took me seven books, and holy hell, it was all worth it. And WILL be down the road, because I ain't stopping.

Don't expect your writing to support you out of the gate. Get a job to pay the living expenses, and work on writing when you can. About the best you can expect starting out, is that the writing profits might pay the writing expenses. (If you're lucky.) You'll probably have to put some money into the first book, at least, but there are ways to keep those expenses under control. If you want we can talk about some of those. I don't know your talents and specialties so I don't know which would apply for you, but we can discuss and figure that out, if you'd like.

Definitely do set up a Patreon account. I've resisted this myself because of possible issues with my day job, but I'll move to one eventually because they work well for web serial specialists like myself. Bear in mind that not only will you need something behind the paywall to draw people in, but you'll need to update it regularly to keep them in. From the people I've talked with and the research I've done, a Patreon is a good way to smooth over poor sales months, and keep a baseline going. Relying solely upon it isn't a good idea.

As far as making the leap into trade publishing, once you self-publish...

Yep, you totally can. In fact, if you get good enough, they'll come to you. Mind you, you have to be good, but...

...well, if you go the trade published route you have to be good anyway. Otherwise your book goes nowhere and the publishers might not be so nice about giving you a deal when you shop your second book around.

Don't let fear of what trade publishers might think of you in the future hold you back if you want to publish now. Just focus on getting good, and finishing that first manuscript. After that you can try one route or the other.

Because until the book's written, there's no point in worrying about the future. Get'er done!

andiwrite
03-21-2018, 09:50 AM
A big part of choosing between self and trade publishing should be what sort of experience you want. Authors can thrive either way. If you want ultimate control and to feel like a boss of your entire project, self-pub. If you like handing the project away to someone with more expertise in other areas, and you don't mind being out of control in some ways, go with trade.

Consider things like the fact the publisher could go out of business. Or they could decide to end your book deal, which happened to me. I got my rights back, but it was still a pain to go through. That doesn't mean it wasn't a valuable experience, of course. Everything happens for a reason. There are so many crazy situations (as well as awesome situations) that could arise with both self and trade publishing that it's impossible to even begin discussing them all. Anything can happen, but that's the fun of the adventure. :) Your journey has to be for you.

Having done both, I prefer self-publishing so far, but I do feel blessed I got to experience being published. It boosted my confidence a lot at the time.