17 Apr

Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing – Part Three

Read part 2

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?


Need help getting through that first draft? Try this.FOCUS 4 Week Draft Cover KindleFOCUS: How to Write a Four Week First Draft

17 Mar

Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing – Part Two

time is money

Read part 1

Scroll to bottom for video of part 1

As I mentioned in part one, time and promotion are reasons I’m considering pursuing a traditional publisher. I’ll start with time. There are many writers who work full-time and then write in what little spare time remains. I count myself lucky that I consider being a writer, speaker, and coach my full-time work. Even with that, the time to write is impeded on because of all those things mentioned above – remember the re-writing, editing, re-editing, beta-reading, etcetera.

self-editing1

This is where I think a traditional publisher has the edge. That mess takes time. A heck of a lot of time. Time I could use writing another book or first re-write of maybe the other 3 books that are written in my Chosen series. Yeah. The whole dang series is written but at the pace I can read, re-write, edit, and do it again, it may be a couple of years to get it done. Daunting! Oh, but you say, you can just pay for someone to do this. Yeah, you can…try…and I have…

It’s quite possible I’m not going about it the right way, but finding a good editor has been a challenge. Especially one that the ROI is going to be worth it. I hate to say it, but a lot of them aren’t that great. I look at the reviews of their books on Amazon and see comments that indicate poor editing (like literally there will be reviews that say ‘poorly edited’). So, I’m like WTH? But editing is crucial because the lack of good editing will get you rocked in reviews.

The truth is, this is a hit and miss game when it comes to finding freelancers who edit, beta-read, do covers and the other things helpful in getting your book ready for the market. I learned this the hard way with book one. It was a gut punch and after having to pull it back TWICE from Amazon to make corrections based on solid feedback, not only is the book stronger, but so is my writing. A publishing house probably would’ve caught the things everyone else missed the first go round. They would’ve saved me from the egg on my face, the agony of going through 100,000 words to bring it to a tighter book of just under 90,000 words.

time is moneyThat time is money and that energy is my creative process. It goes both ways. You have a book that is an amazing story for right now. You have a book that you want to see out in the next six months not next two years. They can save you from personally agonizing over fine-combing a lengthy manuscript. The energy they save you can be used in the creative process not the editing process. These savings of your personal labor for this part of the process, still carries a cost. The question you need to ask yourself is whether it is worth that cost.

Do you have a budget to personally pay for the services or the personal skills needed to bring your book to life by way of editing, book cover design, formatting? What’s your experience been in doing this yourself or having others do it for you?

To be continued with part three on March 24th.

 FOCUS 4 Week Draft Cover KindleFOCUS: How to Write a Four Week First Draft

09 Mar

Self-Publishing versus Traditional Publishing – Part One

Being a self-published author isn’t all rainbows, bubbles, and blue skies. As I delve into taking my music from my computer to something more public, I’m learning that being an indie artist of any kind isn’t.  (Don’t hold your breath just yet). In fact, being a published indie author is often hard, long, thankless work to create something that it is quite possible no one else will read. The countless hours add up as you write, re-write, find an editor (or three or four), edit, edit again, find beta-readers, incorporate feedback, revise again.

You get the point, and I haven’t even gotten to covers and promoting your work. It’s no picnic on the serene edge of a beautiful lake with luscious greenery as a backdrop while you sip on cool raspberry lemonade.

BUT – yes, thankfully, there is a but…

When you birth that book and you hold that baby (whether on a tablet or in paperback) you will cherish it because by the end you will have cried, laughed, celebrated, holed up in a room to get a way, and gone through a myriad of emotions that are only appreciated when it is you that is 100% invested in your book baby.

I started this journey as a serious writer and author at the end of December 2015 and since then I have published one full length novel, two novellas, a short story, and a few non-fiction works. I have come to appreciate the arduous labor of love and commitment it takes for anyone to make a book come to life and I hold a truckload of respect for self-published authors and indie artists in general.

Before you crap on an indie author who has labored to bring a story to life, take a moment and consider there is no full-scale team of paid employees to catch your every mistake, hold your hand as you go, do some of this time-intensive work for you so that you shine brighter, and then give you a platform and the clout to promote your books. See, traditional publishers make the magic happen for those authors – to a point.

I say to a point, because even the traditional publishing route has changed. I’m sure if you are reading this, you already know or at least suspect that. When self-publishing was taking off in 2011 and 2012 I was busy preparing to give birth to my second child and then raising him and my daughter. I missed the golden age.

However, in that time, regular publishers were going through a huge change too, floundering in this new ocean crowded by people who didn’t seem to need them but were filling the market space with books competing with theirs. GASP! SHOCK! HORROR!

When I was writing my first manuscript for book one of the Chosen Series I investigated whether it was worth publishing with a regular publisher. I looked at the math and the time-frames and the restrictive nature in which you could submit to legitimate publishers. I read success stories of Amazon authors but they’d found their way into the limelight when ebooks were still a new phenomenon. Now that field is so crowded new authors are struggling to find a voice. Where’s Waldo? Who the heck knows? Is he even in the crowd? Probably, seems everyone else is!

After a year, I am again considering whether to pursue the traditional route for my stand alone sci-fi novel that I’m editing now. Why? Time and promotion. Those two things are a linchpin to having a book that 1. gets published and 2. sells. Can I say, duh! about what that means in terms of value as a writer?

Are you an indie author? How much time do you spend on the publishing process and promotion? I’d love to hear your thoughts so drop your comments or personal experiences in the comments.

Check back in a week for the next part of this self-publishing versus traditional publishing series.

In the meantime, you may want to check out some of my books and help an indie author out.

FOCUS: How to Write a Four Week First Draft

FOCUS 4 Week Draft Cover Kindle

Want to listen to me read the blog post instead? Here it is on YouTube.