Trade publishing. Traditional publishing. The big five (or however you want to count them). This is how most people measure an author’s level of success but is it accurate? As I mentioned in the previous post, I did a whole lot of research before choosing my publication method. It was shocking! Just like the music industry underwent a revolution because of Napster in the early ’00s, I think literature is verging on that same renaissance.
As I mentioned in the previous post, I did a whole lot of research before choosing my publication method. It was shocking! Just like the music industry underwent a revolution because of Napster in the early ’00s, I think literature is verging on that same sort of renaissance. The consumers are getting more options, making their own choices, and authors are the true winners of this change – if they can learn to adapt.
Well, let me assure you, I love adaptations. No, wait… not the same thing.
At any rate, I did research. I’m well aware that all of the information available is very biased. People tend to comment loudly when they feel strongly. This means that the two extremes (self or traditional publishing) get the most attention. Regardless, a few commonalities stood out.
- Publishers are spending less money pushing out books, unless they are convinced there will be a return. (So more marketing is left to the author)
- Indie authors are more likely to pay their own way, even if they get less name recognition.
Yeah, I was already starting to lean toward “self” publishing by that point, and basically, that tipped me over the edge. I’ve always been rather rabid about how little artists are paid. Unless someone reaches celebrity status, the creation of things is considered to not be valuable. Makes no sense to me.
Rant aside, none of those things were what convinced me to move to independent publishing. Instead, it was the time frame.
You see, with traditional publishing, they expect a return on their investment – and quickly. The company needs to bring in money to make more books. As an indie, I’m not in as big of a rush. I put in my own investment, and I can leave the book to sell at its own rate for as long as I want. For a trade published book, if the initial sales aren’t huge, it’s bumped down, the author gets dinged for not being hot right out of the debut box, and their eventual checks probably will never pay out their advance.
Never mind the lottery factor. What’s that, you ask… well, lemme tell ya. The chances of becoming a successful trade published author are similar to that of winning the lottery. First, you should try to land an agent. Most of them are inundated with others trying to do the same, so they only pick work that they feel strongly about. Nothing wrong with this at all, until you run the numbers. In order to play in the field, you have to get damned lucky, or write such an amazing query/synopsis/intro chapter (all together) that the agent is left dooling in shock. As a newbie, who has no idea what to do? Yeah… good luck.
THEN, you get to play the lottery again. The agent must try to sell your book to someone who will give the author money for it. Hello circle, we’re back for some more. Yeah. Here, it all depends on whether the “guy” (or girl) in charge of that department on that day is the kind of person who reads your stuff. Maybe they like their vampires to be evil bats and not sparkling teenagers. See what I mean?
AND THEN, you still have to make it into print, and hope the readers not only can find you (or know that your book exists) but also to hit them hard enough with your story that your book flies off the shelves…. or amazon’s digital services.
Hey… wait…. what do you mean most book buyers are shopping online? Yeah. Interesting little tidbit with all that, eh? Most buyers are shopping in the EXACT same place that indies are pumping their wares. The gatekeepers have been thwarted. The big boys are competing with millions of little ones, and charging a lot more for the same basic experience. Hmm. How long is it going to take before people figure this out? From the look of the statistics, not that long. Ebooks outsell print in general and are coming close for the most popular titles.
So the only real reason to go with a trade publishing contract over managing your own deals is the business aspect. Maybe you suck at marketing? Maybe you don’t have the time, and aren’t looking to become a full-time author? Maybe you need someone to hold your hand and help with the hard choices? This is why the old school style of getting a book out will never disappear.
The rest? From bookstores to libraries, I think all of that will change. I think that books will once again go back to being made by the people who care enough to sit down and pour their hearts onto the page – and the readers will pick the best and discard the rest. Yes, there’s a mountain of crap out there. There’s also an entire mountain ridge of gold, if you just take a chance on an indie author. All the rules can now be broken. Sometimes, that’s even a good thing.