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Monday, March 19, 2012

Midnight Crossroads

A lot has happened to me in the past couple of months. I got more involved with Twitter to the point of addiction. There I met some awe inspiring authors. They brought to may attention a side of publishing I never considered. Self-publishing.

For years I have been perfecting my writing in hopes of one day being chosen among the thousands to have my book published by a Trade publishing house. I soaked up agent and publisher blogs on writing advice, query letters and of course the horrible odds. Still, I heard the best way to beat the odds was to write a great book. But that's not completely true. Great books are being passed up because publishers only have so many slots to fill. So, then I started looking into the self-publishing/indie movement. I weighed my options and here are the pros and cons of both and my thoughts on them.

Traditional Publishing route:

-You get and advance up front. This can be anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 as a reasonable estimate for new authors.
-Placement in brick-and-mortar stores like Barnes and Noble. (I don't know about you but my Barnes and Noble has shrunk the amount of paperback books they carry. On whole, they take up a quarter of the store. So, this is not really impressive anymore.)
-The prestige of being published buy a trade publishing house (I thought about this and decided that the only people I need the approval of is my readers.)
-Possible promotional push (Not likely unless they think you'll be a bestseller)
-Free editing by professionals
-Commissioned cover art

-Book contracts (Now if you have a good agent, they should help you navigate this)
-Low royalty rates
-Danger of publishing house going out of business (This has happened with several small publishing houses, and in this market who knows?)
-15% of your payment goes to the agent
-Odd/offbeat genres not wanted
-The danger of having your series cancelled after the contracted books are completed
-Time and frustration spent on the phone/email with publisher, editor, or agent (Yeah, they have other authors as well)
-Publisher controls cover art, deadline, and publishing schedule
-Backlist orphaned (No I wouldn't have one yet. but I have heard a few horror stories)

Indie/Self-Publishing route:

-Higher royalties per sale, both ebooks and print
-Real Sales numbers (I'm the kind of person who likes to know this and I'm not sure if you can get this with trade publishing)
-The ability to fix typos
-Branding control over covers, blurbs, typesetting, and layout
-Deadline and Publishing schedule control
-Genre control, you no longer have to write to type (And yes I see a lot of this in tradition publishing. It's why we have the back tattooed heroine in leather pants in Urban Fantasy.)
-Control of backlist (when you have one)

-Learning Curve (Hey, we're all bound to make mistakes)
-No up front advance money
-Expenses before you've earned anything-(artwork, editing, formatting, marketing...Now depending on if you know a few people, there are workarounds.)
-No respect, leads to problematic placement in brick-and mortar stores (so?), certain blogs will not review you, and other looks down their nose at you.
-Time and headache spent formatting

So, I have spent the last few month reading many different sites and have decided to self-publish. I have set a goal to have A PRESCRIPTION FOR DELIRIUM published by my birthday. That's August 26th. It's a tight schedule but I'm confident I can get it down. I've met a lot of great people who are happy to help make this possible.

Now, this is a personal decision. If anyone feels that they want to go the traditional publishing route then more power to them. In fact, my readers, which do you prefer?


  1. I say GO FOR IT! I faced the same facts and realized that the only real benefit to traditional publishing is that it's somehow considered more "legitimate" than indie publishing. However, if my readers enjoy my work, I don't CARE if someone in New York thinks I'm a "real author". I write for my readers - the only ones who's opinion truly matters in the end.

    1. Thanks for the support! And I came to the same conclusion. I find it funny how some aspiring authors say they like the challenge of getting chosen by a publishing house. To me the challenge is writing a good story and making my readers happy.

  2. I would like to try traditional publishing first hand so I could make a fair comparison, but I have to say that on paper, I think indie publishing actually wins out overall. Your assessment of pros and cons is spot on and my opinion *personally* doesn't veer from any of the points you've made. I'm happy with self publishing so far.

  3. Thanks. It took some research but the more I looked into it the more certain points about traditional publishing began to bug me.

  4. Good luck! Self-publishing can be challenging, but also worthwhile, as long as you're willing to put in the extra time and effort, which it sounds like you are! I self-published back when I was in high school, and I honestly think I should have waited so I could have prepared myself better and grown as a writer a little more, but it's still a route I'm considering for future books. (I will probably try giving the traditional route a try first, but I haven't written off the possibility of going indie again!)

    It saddens me how disrespected self-published writers are sometimes, especially when those in other professions (whether it involves art, music, etc) are applauded for going indie. As challenging as the more technical aspects of self-publishing can be, the disrespect is easily the toughest part about this.

    1. Thanks Heather! And good luck with the Traditional route. I think both need to survive for the good of authors. We just have to choose what is best for us.

      Yeah, it saddens me as well. It's like the authors who disrespect do not look at how indies are trying to turn the reputation around. All they think is it's for people who can't make it the traditional route.