Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." ~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When Publishing Becomes a Choice

Nathan Bransford has posted twice this week about the ongoing battle between traditional vs. self-publishing, to get across this message: It's not a battle, people! It's simply a business/career decision!

I was nodding my head in vigorous agreement with every word of his post, especially the following quote:

"There is no "us" vs. "them." Traditional vs. self-publishing is a false dichotomy. It's an illusion created by people who either have let their frustrations get the best of them or are trying to sell you something."

And then I just happened to read this post at the blog of traditionally-published novelist and playwright, Catherine Czerkawska, who recently made the decision to self-publish. I think her blog perfectly outlines what Bransford is saying about it being a business decision, not an either/or conflict.

Catherine writes: "The age bit is important only in that it has made me focus on the horribly swift passage of time. Publishing involves a lot of waiting, even when you have an agent. Here's how it goes. (and then she gives a very good summary/outline of a typical time-line of the agented author which everyone considering their own publishing choice should read) You can see how age becomes an issue, can't you? Well, it did for me, last year. I found myself with several completed and almost completed novels. People were telling me they wanted to read them. People I respected (editors included) were telling me they were good. But there was no deal on the horizon and it struck me that even if there was, the wait would be a long one."

These are wonderful times for writers, where we now have numerous choices before us. If you want to go with a publishing company, there's the agent route to the big publisher or the small press traditional publisher or the ebook only publisher. If you want to self-publish, there's the companies that will help get your work out for a fee or the set up your own company and hire it out to freelancers or the do it all yourself.

When does publishing become a choice? It is when you have a really good, completed manuscript and you must now decide how to publish it and get it into the hands of readers. What a very nice dilemma!

31 comments:

  1. It is a battle when publishers don't offer authors good contracts. Why would I sign with a publisher and have them take most of my royalties when I can self publish on my own and earn what my writing is worth? That is if it's good writing ;)

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    1. Suz, If you are willing to invest the time and money into doing the work that publishers normally do (editing, design, typesetting, covers, providing ARCs for contests and reviews, etc) then you are most certainly due 100% of the royalties coming to you. A major reason that many choose to not self-publish, is because they're not comfortable taking on all of the various roles.

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  2. Writers have to do all that stuff now days anyway. But I suppose you're right, it doesn't have to be a battle between traditional and self publishing.

    I'm reading a blog post by Joe Konrath at the mo about publisher contracts. They seem quite binding and limiting. I suppose I'm simply terrified of signing with a publisher, but also terrified of self publishing on my own! Sheesh!

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    1. Suz, Contracts can vary widely. It's important to know what you are signing! Don't be terrified, just write your books and get them out there, one way or the other!

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  3. It is a choice. And as a reader, I see quality books on both sides and it gives me more to read.

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  4. You are so right. Getting published is only a matter of when and how. Writers have more control now and that is a positive. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog. :)

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    1. Honey, I think yours is one I found on the A to Z Challenge, just trying to get back to all the new ones I followed!

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  5. Great post! I love this! I realized the other day as I skimmed through Writer's Market 2012 that I'm closer to the self-publishing side of the spectrum, and that doesn't make me angry, it just makes me realize that my current WIP just fits a self-pub market better than a big pub market. I have another project that might work better the other way, and I'll find out as I go.

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  6. And good luck to you brave writerly souls whatever route you choose! And being able to choose is a great! I think if you're told your story is good enough by so many agents, editors etc but the trad route continues to exhaust then go another route! Take care
    x

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  7. I think as a general rule most people are not good self-editors, so it's ideal to have a second party involved when it comes to publishing.

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  8. And make that choice after much research. Know what you are getting into before you leap. That applies to either path.

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  9. I completely agree. So many different routes opens up many doors.

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  10. Hi, Karen,

    Thanks for this info. You are so right ... we do have choices and it isn't us against them, although it does feel like that sometimes.

    The "TIME" factor is an important one. Two to three years to wait for your treasured novel sounds INSANE, yet we all want that coveted big six contract.

    At some point I will do the self publishing route. It has been several years since I have written my first novel and I completed another last year. Neither have been published, even though there was interest in both, but nothing ever happened. So thankfully, we as authors, DO HAVE A CHOICE.

    Thanks for the positive reinforcement for EITHER decision. To me keeping a level, non-emotional head is the best we can do to make the right decision for us.

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  11. Enjoyed your post. How reassuring and logical. Thanks.

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  12. Now Nathan Bransford has stopped agenting, I respect his words even more.

    I agree with Alex: it's all about choice, and aren't we writers lucky that it has never been so good for us.

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  13. Great post Karen. I think it's a wonderful time to be an author with so many choices! Just do what is right for you! Have a lovely week.

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  14. There are some excellent books out there that have been self published or gone through small presses. The choices are better. I've read some authors and novels that I can't believe ever got a rejection.

    ......dhole

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  15. It's true that the landscape is opening up wider and wider. Everyone has to do what they feel is right for them and their work.

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  16. I'm so glad to see more people agreeing that all of the chocies available to authors are valid, and it's just a matter of choosing the one that best suits the individual author. I've grown tired of seeing one side bash the other. We live in a big, big world. There's plenty of room for everyone to follow their own path.

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  17. Hi Karen .. totally agree with you - also we can filter our thoughts much more easily through blogging - and get clarity for ourselves.

    After all we are individuals and we can make our own mind up and go our own route - whichever path we take - all good experience ..

    Cheers - I think we are in a land of opportunity ... Hilary

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  18. Karen, you're right. It's not us v them.
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

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  19. Very good point. It just is about choosing what is best for me and my book. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Good post, Karen. I too made a choice. Time played a factor, and I have no regrets. (Only the faulty file I uploaded with a name close to the edited one!). That is an age thing, and a lesson learned! LOL

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  21. I went to a workshop for writers and Catherine Coulter's suggestion was to find a publisher first, then get an agent. Would this work?

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    1. It may work with some publishers but others might not like to sign with the author then have an agent enter the picture afterward.

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  22. I like to think we're all in the same business and just taking different paths.

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  23. It takes a lot of work to self-publish, but it also takes a lot of time just to find an agent and then a publisher. If I were younger I would search for an agent. Age is not on my side right now.

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  24. I love self-publishing and happily support Indie published books as much as possible. The only downside I find is distribution. In Australia it is almost unheard of to get a self-published book onto a shelf. There's pros and cons to both, and as you say, it's a decision not a battle.

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  25. Thanks to Dr. Q, I actually saw that post! I think it's fantastic that authors have so many options now, but you hit the nail on the head. You're not ready until you have a complete, polished, repolished, repolished, re... OK, I'll stop. But a baby that's READY! :o) <3

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  26. That's a great dilemma, and I'm just about there. Planning to query agents and small presses this summer.

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