I've got a bit of uncertainty going again. See... I'm coming closer and closer to finishing the edits to Doorways. And... I'm starting to think I don't know what to do with it.
I mean... now is the good time to start drafting my query. But do I really still want to go the traditional route?
Yes, it would be a huge feather in my cap to have my ms accepted by one of the big 6. Or even just by an agent. But... in the current climate where traditional authors are pushed harder and harder to produce more and compete with the self-publishers, do I really want to sell my soul and contract my art in that way?
All this came about when I was speaking to my mother about how authors making a lot of money and producing best-seller after best seller... while they're actually not writing the books with their names on it.
Or people producing books to the exact same formula. Again. And again. And again.
I have to say that I don't have a lot of respect for those authors. In fact, (and I'm sorry if any of you do this), I feel that those books don't really deserve to take the space that could have gone to authors who spent hours perfecting the craft. Honing it to get to agents' and publishers' standards. Only to be told no because the quota has been filled.
But. As time has passed and I got more attuned to the comings and goings of the publishing market, I realize that a lot of this has to do with pressure. Those authors seem to be trying to produce enough books a year to stay fresh in the readers' minds. And now, they need to produce even faster to compete with self-publishers who need a lot less time to get their books published.
Where am I going to draw the line with my writing? Am I willing to publish less than my standards in order to keep a publisher happy? Do I want the added pressure that if my book does not compete, which it can't because it's at least three times as expensive as most self-published books, I'll lose the deal with the publisher?
How much of my soul am I willing to risk in order to get my stories trad-published?
How do you/did you decide your chosen publishing method?
I want to be traditionally published because. honestly, I couldn't do it on my own. Forget about covers and publicity and all that - I couldn't decide on my own that my book was really ready to be put out in the world. I think self-publishing is great if you're confident in yourself and especially if you want control. But it's not an easy decision to make!ReplyDelete
I think mine chose me rather than the other way around!ReplyDelete
Many, many people are making the foray into self-publishing these days, as it's become so easy. And it pretty much goes without saying that most of those are publishing digitally, though there are lots of companies offering print-on-demand services too.
My personal feeling was that I wanted to try the conventional method first, and if I failed to find a publisher, I'd consider self-publishing. It was never my first choice though, because marketing and promoting aren't particular strengths of mine, and because I've always wanted to experience the writer-editor relationship which is an important part of the conventional publishing model.
Like many, I always thought of print publication when I imagined being published - but there seem to be more opportunities for new writers in the digital publishing world these days, and my first publishing offer came from a digital-only publisher.
I think it would be wrong to assume the entire big-six publishing world is filled with ghost-written bestsellers. Or with authors who write more than one novel per year. I think both are probably the exception rather than the rule.
I agree with you that there's a pricing problem with e-books from some big publishers (ie, that they're pricing themselves out of the market, well above the level charged by self-pubbed authors). But I think this has to, and is, changing.
And don't forget about the entire print segment of the market! This is an area where the big print publishers still have a huge advantage over self-published authors, due to their distribution arrangements with bookshops. The famous example of Amanda Hocking reminds us that however much success she achieved on her own, she welcomed the opportunity to work with a publisher. Her publishing deal allowed her to gain access to high quality editing, to share the promotional and administrative workload associated with her books, and free herself up for more writing.
Makes sense to me!
If writer write to formula or let others ghostwrite under their name it's always for the same reason. Money.ReplyDelete
While I dislike being forced to select from only those books, I know booksellers carry them because in the end, they make money for them.
I think you do give up some things going with a publisher, but that also depends on the size of the publisher. I'm happy with my small publisher because they can do things for my books I can't, and they also work with me without a lot of pressure.ReplyDelete
Me? I want to go the traditional route. Before e-pubs and self-pubs were on the scene, I wanted this. Now that the times have changed, I still want what I wanted. If all fails...then I'll consider e-pub.ReplyDelete
Like Alex, I want to speak up for the small publisher. Not sure how it has happened but writer blogs everywhere are posting about how it's a choice between self-publishing or going with an agent and the Big 6. When actually there's this huge world of publishing between the two. It doesn't need to be either or. Writers can get lucrative contracts without an agent, without a New York publisher, and still have all the benefits of traditional publishing through a small press. Check them out carefully though because some of them talk like traditional publishers but don't act like it. For instance, you should not have to PAY for services like editing, cover design, promotional and marketing. Traditional publishing--even the small presses-- are where the publisher pays you, not the other way around.ReplyDelete
The best thing about being a writer nowadays is we have options. It also makes it harder to choose which option to go with. It can be different for each book too. All options have pros and cons.ReplyDelete
I have enjoyed working with small publishers for my shorter works. I never would've tried self-publishing without having gone through a small publisher before. They can be great, especially if you find the right one. But now I really enjoy the control of publishing my shorter works myself. I can get them out quicker, but they still involve so many choices placed upon me between cover art, editing, and formatting. I like having that choice, though. It's not for everyone.
I'm not 100% positive which way I want to go with my novels. All sides have benefits. All sides have downfalls.
You will do the majority of the marketing yourself no matter how you publish. It just depends on what type of control you want and what you're willing to give up.
I think I would definitely go through the steps as if you are GOING to publish traditionally. I think the steps of writing the query and perfecting the synopsis help you whether you decide to ACTUALLY query or self-publish. It is time well-spent.ReplyDelete
On the issue of the formulaic--I am beneficiary of that with my cozy mysteries--there IS a much easier route in if you write those genres that sell really well, but see... that's the thing... those genres are SO HIGHLY READ that they are sure money-makers for the system. Do I feel a little annoyed that James Patterson is hiring hundreds of writers for those collaborations and every one of them makes the bestseller list? Sure. But did you see the end there? They all make the bestseller list because that's what readers buy by the billions. And like it or not, traditional publishing is a rather conservative business and so LIKES sure sellers. The PROBLEM is that readers are really looking for comfortable and familiar far more often than they are looking for 'out of the box'. Now every year a few out of the box books go gangbusters, but of the number of bestsellers in a given year, it is a very small percentage. Formula thrillers sell best, but all those formula books sell well.
You have a dilemma, but it's not a bad one to be in. You might want to try the traditional route first, but research the best self-pub route to take while you're waiting for a response. Dive in the right pool when you're ready and be prepared to hit the promotional route hard and heavy if you want a bigger success. The hype and promotion is the real key to book sales. If you're not willing to take on that then it probably doesn't matter too much which direction you go, but the traditional route would probably be a better way to go for getting a hard copy book published. If it's just ebooks you want to produce, then maybe doing it yourself will have the biggest payoff for the least risk.ReplyDelete
Either way, I wish you well.
A Faraway View
An A to Z Co-host blog
Really think about this before you make any decisions.ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your comments, Ladies and Gents! They've really been a great help to me. ^_^ReplyDelete
I work at a magazine that writes book reviews on self-published and small press books. The small presses are mostly just as good as one of the big 6, so you probably can't go wrong trying to query for an agent, and I wouldn't worry if they can't get you into one of the big publishers. Self-published books, on the other hand... Even though I believe in my company's mission, seeing these dozens and dozens of self-published books makes me quite wary of going that route. I personally would feel offended by the stereotype of self-published books being low-par, but seeing them every day also makes me see that I would not particularly want to be published alongside of some of these sparsely edited books... Not to say they are all like that, but many are. Good luck with your decision!ReplyDelete
As others have said, one of the great things is that we have so many options now. We can take our writing careers wherever we want, and can, take them. Like many I always dreamt of the trade route and print novels since that's what was realistic during my childhood when I started writing. But since the coming of (feasible!) self-publishing in the e-book world, I'm just so excited for my own possibilities and other authors'.ReplyDelete
Because of this economy, I've had to make writing my income. Which is scary. I've talked to a new publishing house interested in seeing some of my work and maybe going "all the way", but they were upfront that it wouldn't happen until...2014! I can't wait that long to start getting my work (that's ready) out there. I needed to start publishing yesterday, but as I said, I can't until something is truly ready. Hopefully that'll be by the end of this year, but yeah, late autumn 2012 is a lot sooner than 2014.
Of course, I don't think you're in the same position as I am. There are also authors who go trade with some works and self-publish others (usually shorter stuff, like novellas.) Regardless of what route you end up taking, it doesn't hurt to research the hell out of both, because you just "never know".
I'm not close to having a book to be queried or published, but my inclination is to go with traditional publishing. Partly because of the satisfaction it would offer to cross that hurdle--but also because I don't think I could manage all the editing, marketing, and other work that (good) publishers are able to do for their authors.ReplyDelete
Well as you know I went for self publishing and will do it again.ReplyDelete
The key to success will be how well and how much effort you put into design and promotion.
You know my writing, I'm Ok at design but I just don't have time to self promote, so I have had pretty miserable sales.
But if you go traditional or small publisher your promotion service will probably be you anyway.
One of the greatest fears is compromise but it seems so many authors end up doing just that. Is it worth selling out just to sell a few more books? I never thought so.ReplyDelete
I'm too exhausted at the end of the day to even think about marketing, so this is a debate I'll put off for a few years. Either way, I'm thinking small pub is going to be my preferred method of attack.ReplyDelete
Oh yeah, Misha, since you add so much sunshine to the blogging world, I've nominated you for the sunshine award.
I'd love to publish traditionally, though reading your post had me considering things I hadn't thought of before (the need to keep up, speed-wise, with self-pubbed authors, whose process is faster, for example). The creative control aspect's so important, but I kind of would like to have the benefit of experienced professionals to guide me, at least the first time around. Exciting and tricky times, eh? :-)ReplyDelete
Some Dark Romantic
I've been on this roller coaster too. I know all the negatives of being traditionally published, but for now it's still my preferred route.ReplyDelete
For me, I'm aiming for hybrid. I'll start indie and see how well I do. If I do well I'll see if trad become interested in my work and what they may or may not offer, then go from there. I won't say no to one way or another. Why do so? The best way forward can be a personal fit. For me, I'm open to all avenues. :)ReplyDelete
It's really interesting to see how many authors are now seriously considering self-publishing. For me, it was the level of control I can have over every aspect of the publishing journey, as well as being aware that the length of stories I wanted to publish wouldn't be accepted by a traditional publisher.ReplyDelete