Thursday, April 7, 2011

Traditional Publishing Vs. Self-Publishing

The lovely and very talented Chrystalla Thoma has gotten my brain turning on the subject of traditional publishing Vs. Self-publishing, and I think it's a question that every writer needs to be considering at this point.

The traditional publishing industry is shrinking. Magazines are closing, markets are under greater pressure to be selective and publish only the most marketable of pieces. Advances for new writers are small and most authors don't sell out their contracts. Many are stuck on the midlist while bigger ticket items get all the promotion. Some writers are doing well, and deservedly so, but many aren't and undeservedly so.

Meanwhile, the eBook market is not-so-quietly growing. There are still "midlist" authors but they're getting a bigger cut of the proceeds. More and more people are reading in digital formats, eReaders are selling like hotcakes tastier cousin, and most importantly people are reading all those self-published books! Most of which got rejected at some point along their journey. Either way, I’ll be promoting the book myself.

So I'm forced to ask myself, what is it I really want. It's time, as they say, to put my money where my mouth is. If I just want to be read, and I don't need to make tons of money, and I don't need to be a Big Name Author, why am I holding out? Traditional publishing does have that stamp of approval. It's "respectable" publishing. But it's a lot harder to think of it that way when I know people who are selling thousands of eBooks while I sit here, submitting and getting (almost) nothing but the "good" rejections.

I just don't want to wait around forever and never achieve that dream. I've been reflecting lately on all the publishing advice I've gotten (and given) over the years. You know what I mean, all those phrases that end in, "but that's the way it is." You're going to get rejections, and it does suck, but that's the way it is. You can't control when or if you get published, but that's the way it is. You won't have any input on the cover, they may change your title, you'll have to do all the promotion, you can't submit to editors so you need an agent but they won't take you until you've had something published, but that's the way it is.

But it isn't. Not anymore. There was a time when self-publishing was the last resort, but that was when distributing a print book was a nightmare. Now? *POOF* Internet, eReaders, eBooks.

So, I've come to the decision that after the current round of edits on A Sign in Blood--which I'm putting off my short stories to finally get to--I'm going to self-publish through Smashwords as an eBook. I can do the cover myself. Between myself and the wonderful and lovely folks at Critique Circle, I'm pretty sure I can get it up to snuff editing-wise. It's a scary decision, actually, but I think it's the right one for me.

11 comments:

J.A. Beard said...

If you're going to self-publish, I would definitely also include Amazon as one of your outlets.

Marion Sipe said...

Oh, definitely. I wasn't entirely sure from my readings at Smashwords (I keep wanting to type "Smashmouth") if they distributed to Amazon. It's in my notes as something to check out (with "Createspace" written next to it and underlined. Hmm. :D )

Thanks for the tip!

Chrystalla Thoma said...

Hey Mary! :-) Great post. Just to clarify that traditional publishers, especially small ones, do publish mainly e-books. In fact, small publishers are a pretty good option in my opinion, and they offer many benefits such as editors and cover artists (they offer up to 40% of the profits, which is much higher than what the big 6 are offering). I am very happy with my publisher, MuseItUp. The reason I want to go Indie (although I hope I'll keep publishing the traditional way also) is that I like the idea of almost total freedom in setting up the book and cover, getting it out as quickly as I want, and having a higher share in the profit. Then again, I am well aware that it means more work for me. But I'll go with that, because I do want to try it out. Times are changing. :-)

Cinders said...

Great post. I recently went Indie for exactly the same reasons you have, but I have to tell you, I'm inexperienced at the marketing and I'm having a hard time getting any exposure for my book at all because so many are going this route. I recently have tried to get reviews, but all the review sites are backed up for months.

Although the people who have read my novel have said good things. It's a matter of getting readers.

When you publish to Smashwords, opt out of Barnes & Noble and Amazon, so you can do those separately. It's faster, and I'm not sure about this but Smashwords might take a cut if they publish to Amazon and B&N (although I don't think they are ready to publish to Amazon yet)

Good luck with your decision.

Marion Sipe said...

@Chrys - Very true. And I'm not saying I'd pass up an offer from a publisher who did print books. It would depend on the circumstances. It's never a bad thing to distribute work over a wide array of media. I just think that this is a good way for me to get started, you know?

@Cinders - What other means of promotion have you tried? Maybe a blog tour, or a giveaway, or an author interview would help?

Chrys pointed me toward some great links today (once I've got my head wrapped around the subject I'll post all my links)and maybe they could be of help to you!

Victorine Lieske: Marketing Your Ebooks

Katie Salidas: Marketing

And The Book Reviewer List

Let me know how it goes!

Cinders said...

I'm working on some of the things you've mentioned. I've had one interview, and just this Monday I contacted about 20 of those sites on that Book Reviewer list that takes e-books and SF, asking for a review. Three of the sites have responded so far, but all have mentioned being backed up. Most haven't responded yet, but it's still early.

Anyway, any links you have would be great. I don't know how to get on a blog tour?

J.A. Beard said...

Considering how many blogs I read, I feel like I should know this, but what exactly IS a blog tour?

Marion Sipe said...

@ Cinders - Well it sounds like you're making headway! *\o/**\o/**\o/* I'm sure the reviews will pick up, and as more reviews come up, hopefully you'll be able to see which reviewers give you the biggest sales nudges!

@J.A. - A blog tour is when you do guest blogs on a series of different blogs, "touring the blogosphere," so to speak. :D

I'd be happy to offer up this space if either of you wants to guest post here on your tours!

Chrystalla Thoma said...

I also can host you if you make a blog tour - in fact, it would be great to host each other. :-) Just let me know.

Cinders said...

Hosting each other sounds good to me. Count me in!

Marion Sipe said...

Great! I think it's a wonderful idea (I've got nothing to post about yet, but I will! :D). Just let me know when you want to do a guest post!