Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Publishing Choices: One Author's Reflections

A month after RWA 2014, I'm still wondering where to go with my time travel novel. Do I want a New York publisher? An agent? Frankly, I'm not sure I do, especially after hearing the horror stories of authors at recent conferences I've attended.

Let's face it: publishers expect to make money publishing your work. If the sales numbers do not add up, you're toast. It doesn't even have to be your fault. It could be the greatest book ever written, but if enough readers don't find it, you will likely find the Big Publishing version of a Dear John letter in your inbox. And it doesn't have to be couched in subtlety either, from what I've heard.

Do I need that? Like most writers, I fight my own battles with doubts of my ability. Every single day. Why would I deliberately put myself in a position to be kicked around?

On the other hand, I could be the next Sabrina Jeffries or Elizabeth Hoyt and find myself flooded with royalties, flowers on book release day, and Hollywood producers banging on my door.

I'm beginning to wonder, however, if I'd prefer to be the next Courtney Milan instead.

Advantages of Self-Publishing

For one thing, I can self-publish something a heck of a lot faster than going through a traditional publisher. If I submit A Home For Helena to a publisher, I'll likely have to wait two years (plus the time it takes to get an editor to read it) to see it come out. I'm not a spring chicken anymore. I don't want to be dependent on someone else's schedule. I write because I want readers to enjoy my stories.

I've always valued my independence. I've learned lots about publishing in the two-plus years since being published by Ellora's Cave's Cotillion line. Since that's no longer an option—Ellora's Cave is dropping the entire Blush line except for re-issues—I think I'm ready to try it myself. I can hire an editor and cover designer, and I've learned a lot about the promotional side too, which I would also have to continue doing if I signed with a traditional publisher.

I actually like the idea of being able to design my own promotions, check my sales figures, and be able to keep my royalties without splitting them with a publisher and agent. What's not to like?

I have to say I was quite amazed to find at a recent writers' group meeting that there are still authors who think the traditional agent/publisher route is the best way to go because going through that gauntlet makes it likely you're not publishing trash. The implication being that you may be damaging your career by prematurely publishing your work. Yeah, it happens. But it doesn't have to, if you hire professionals to help you. New York keeps trying to reinforce the myth that what they offer is superior to what authors can do on their own. And it is a myth, folks. Some of these Big P's don't even edit your work anymore.

Advantages of Traditional Publishing

Indie-published books don't get mass-distributed—not yet—so if it's important to you to see your book in a bookstore or distributed nationwide, you'll have to court the Big P's. Mass-marketed print books are cheaper than POD too.

A No-Brainer

Hmm. I don't think it's really worth having to go through what Big P's make you go through to publish with them. Not to mention the fact that you could work all your life and never become one of the chosen few, just because what you're writing may not be trendy or appeal to the editor who reads it, supposing someone ever does.

What do you think?

Susana's Releases

She's a country lady. He's a London swell. They have nothing in common. Or have they?

A wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions. 

Ellora's CaveBarnes & NobleAmazon

About Susana

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley, Central Florida and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

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Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)


ms_tapp said...

Since I got to read an early version of A Home for Helena, I think that the sooner it gets out there for other people to read the better! I loved it.

Rose Anderson said...

Interesting post. I've done both. At this stage in my career I have to say I enjoy the self-publishing more. I have a terrific editor who understands my "voice". I get to pick my own cover. I also pay out of pocket for both privileges. On the other hand, my sales for my self-published have always gone well beyond those the publisher holds rights to. Even in paperback. Best luck, Susana. :)

Tina Donahue said...

I think your best bet is to try a combination of the two. I wouldn't rely on traditional publishing alone. As you said, if you don't earn out, you're toast.