In part two I talked about time being a factor in my considering going the traditional publishing route. The other consideration is promotion. I have to say that I’ve heard and read that traditional publishers aren’t promoting like they used to. They expect you, the author, the new OMG I just wrote a book and I never thought I would, but I’m so excited so I’ll tell my family and friends, author. Family and friends are good but here’s a little secret, unless you physically put that book in front of them, send them direct links to purchase, ask them personally for a review, they will probably just say “Congratulations! It looks great,” and keep on moving. You’ll know from the flat line of your KDP Report in Amazon. It looks and feels like death.
When I decided to write seriously I used the domain names I owned for myself (yes, go buy your name right now) and got a Twitter account and Facebook page. I invited people I know to like my Facebook page and have been trying to get a following on Twitter. Some days I feel like throwing in the towel on social media. But I can’t. The days are over when a publishing house spends thousands of dollars promoting a new author. These platforms are essential for me to be found because if no one finds me, no one finds my books. If no one finds my books, no one buys and reads my books. That means all the time and energy of bringing life to that story that once existed in fragmented pieces in my mind, is akin to putting pretty wrapping on it, hiding it in the closet, and forgetting about it.
Promoting your book is a constant effort. It takes time away from writing, and writing is a constant effort – that and the writing process. I don’t hold a college degree in writing or literature, though I helped my ex-husband earn his, and have always been a writer. I got As in English and Lit, took AP English in high school and had my poetry featured in a college poetry magazine my freshman year. I won Miss Black Georgia Metroplex 1996-1997 with an original poem as my talent, and have notebooks of poetry, song lyrics, essays, and random thoughts that I swear I will go through one day. The stack is only a foot tall. But none of that matters if no one knows you fricking exist.
That’s where a traditional publisher might provide some benefits. They do expect you to already have an author platform so if you haven’t started, go sign up for Twitter, get on FB, and get your website. Right now. If they do love your book, you can say ‘so and so’ picked up my book and gave me a deal, giving instant credibility to your talents as a writer. You appear on their author list, your books are on their SEO optimized websites that garner higher ranking and have massive mailing lists. They send your book in to those expensive review places and because of their distribution network, you actually have a shot at landing on a best-sellers list other than Amazon. I’ll be honest, it’s a longshot but it’s still a shot.
For those reasons, I am considering submitting my stand-alone novel to a traditional publisher but perhaps not as an agented submission. I just don’t do traditional anything very well. There are publishers who accept unagented submissions all the time or during certain open windows. I figure I can prepare my work to the best that I’m able and give it a try. With this book, publishing it before 2017 is out isn’t a big deal. I have book 2 of the Chosen Series that is begging me for attention (and books 3 and 4). As of this writing, I’m okay with letting that simmer through the dog days of summer for a release probably around September. What I realize, is that I can wait the weeks or months for a response if it means someone will help me get that book ready for the world. And if they do, that one book will help my other self-published books sell better. A win-win.
There are a few publishers stepping up their end of the bargain by offering more attractive 50/50 splits which are attractive if you know the amount of work and time and money it takes to do this right. If you are willing and able to pay for the services of editing (the full suite), promotion, book cover design, book layout and formatting, and have an author platform you may find it is a better financial decision to self-publish and take home 70% of an ebook price on Amazon (when you price it between $2.99 and $9.99).
In the end, it’s up to you and you have to make the choice based on how well you think you can get through the process to create a quality book that can compete in the big leagues. No book is perfect, even the big publishers have spelling and typographical errors, but don’t be that guy or girl who indie publishes a book riddled with distractions and inconsistencies because you failed to invest as much as you could into editing. And saying you had nothing to invest, means you may want to look at priorities in other areas before putting showing your baby to the world with a diaper that may be soiled and ready to soak through.
Before you decide how to publish, you actually need a book worth publishing. I’m assuming you’ve gotten that far, but have someone read it who will be honest with you before you go any further. Once you past that test here are a few questions to ask yourself before you decide how you want to publish:
- Do you have the patience to wait for the traditional publishing process?
- Do you mind losing some of the creative control or having your message edited?
- Do you like having to do all the self-promoting yourself?
- Do you have an author platform?
- Do you enjoy the editing and full writing process? Do you have time for it?
- Do you already have a good team consisting of an editor and a couple beta-readers?
- Do you mind learning how to format your ebook and/or paperback? If not, are you willing to pay someone to do this?
Are you already published? Which route did you take and what’s your experience been?