Tell Me the Truth Now
No matter what I blog about lately—no matter where we go in the blogosphere as a matter of fact—somebody always turns it into a conversation about two things:
(1) Publishing is dead or at least in its final death throes; and
(2) Everyone should pursue self-publishing and if you don’t, you’re an idiot with your head in the sand.
Let me just say this:
I completely disagree with both of those statements.
Yes, publishing is undergoing a tectonic shift, nobody is denying that. But the shift cannot be accurately described as “dying.”
And yes, self-publishing (or indie publishing or whatever designation you want to give it) is increasingly an attractive option for many people, which is a development I completely support. I am, after all, a person in business for myself and I can appreciate that entrepreneurial spirit! I’m totally on board with it.
Many of us are still in traditional publishing, and doing great. Even more important, many authors would still prefer traditional publishing over the self-publishing route.
If that describes you, it’s time to speak up.
Q4U: Why are you pursuing traditional publishing?
Let’s be honest here. Don’t think about anyone else’s reasons. Don’t argue for traditional publishing as a concept and don’t try to convince anyone else of your way of thinking. This isn’t about an agenda. It’s about you.
Just tell us, straight from your heart, why you hope to be traditionally published.
And have a great weekend!
© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
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>Traditional Publishing = Following in the footsteps of many of the greats in history. Self Publishing – I've done and I love that it is an option but for my next book traditional publishing is my dream.
>What a mess we've created for ourselves through our lack of commitment to grammatical discipline.
Not all self-pubbed writers lack commitment to grammar or discipline, and it shows. Some writers, like myself, refuse to put out a book that isn't as close to perfect as humanly possible, and we don't resort to self-publishing because we can't get published the traditional way. Your comment is generalized and doesn't reflect the bulk of self-pubbed authors, speaking as a traditionally and recently self-pubbed author.
>All these comments are from new authors who want to be traditionally published and why wouldn't they? They think traditional publishing will validate them. They are wrong though, its having a readership that will validate them.
This post is a good way to promote a one sided argument. But this is not the whole story for publishing. I have a website that promotes indie authors and there are authors there that have been traditionally published and have taken back their work from publishers to sell themselves. Then there are the big names like Barry Eisler and JA Konrath who have swapped from traditional to self publishing.
The we have Amanda Hocking who has gone from indie to traditional.
What is my point? The publishing world has changed and publishers no longer have a monopoly. Writers have a choice. Some will choose traditional some wont. There is talent on both sides and valid reasons for both. It just means that traditional publishers cant expect all talent to come to them or stay even with them.
I'm still reading the comments. Best wishes as you continue to write.
>As the 219th commentor, I'm not sure what I have to say will even be important (or read), but I'll pursue traditional publishing when I'm ready because I want to know that someone besides me thinks my work is worth putting out in the world.
The physical presence of a paper book is a beautiful thing. It literally makes my heart happy to look at books. My concern with self-publishing and ebooks is that traditional books will disappear also, and I cannot imagine living where physical books do not.
>I like what goes with a name. If I pick up a book by a certain publisher, there's a reputation that goes with that. If you're good enough for them, that's saying a lot.
>I follow Writer's Digest feedblitz and recently read JM Frey's article on why she's looking for an agent even though she already has a publishing deal on her first book. Her reasons for wanting this echo mine and include wanting to be a writer, not a jack of all trades in the industry. I follow your blog too and have seen nothing but amazing advice, empowering information and inspiring affirmations. We need agents, especially agents like you who are willing to guide us while we focus on writing. Thank you for being there for us. Hanna Loren
>Ok, so I'm not going to read anyone else's comments so I'm being perfectly honest with WHY I'm pursuing traditional publishing. I have several reasons:
1. They know how to market the book to the readership it suits
2. Traditional publishers can get the book into more hands, more places
3. They make WAY COOLER book covers (I'm a sucker for a good cover)
4. But my primary reason, is working in the traditional industry opens a network of people who KNOW the industry, KNOW writing, KNOW good editing and can enhance my book and make it and its message better.
>I'm going to agree with comments. I don't want a self-pubbed book that seems unedited or isn't even a decent product. I've read pieces of Amazon self-pub books, and they would NEVER make it in a real bookstore. Obviously, this isn't for every book out there, just what I've read. I want a career, not a one-hit-wonder Amazon thrill of a try.
>If I was a killer heavy metal guitarist I wouldn't want my biggest venue to be YouTube.
If I painted in oils I wouldn't want my work stuck in thirty dollar a night hotel rooms.
I don't get into things to lose or to get that 'good enough' badge.
I write. I'm not a salesman, marketing consultant, editor, imaginary entourage or any of that. Other people are better at those tasks anyway, probably with the same degree of focus as I have with my preffered life.
I don't want a book I could have run off a copier, stuck to my fridge with a magnet like a grade school arts and craft project using macaroni, glitter and construction paper.
I want that immortal foot print left behind.
Call it ego, call it exhibitionist, call it narcissistic…I do love it so, though.
>I want to be traditionally published because I want the professional affirmation and sense of "legitimacy." Also because I don't have the time to do it all on my own. Sure, I know I'll have to devote a lot of time to publishing and marketing even with a traditional publisher. But at least there will be some resources to help me, more resources than if I self-published.
>I want to be traditionally published because when I say I've had books published it will seem more worthwill. No offence and I'm NOT saying it's all bad because that isn't true but ANYTHING, no matter how poorly written, can be self-published.
>I would like traditional publishing because of what it offers me. I don't know all the grammar rules (GASP!) and sometimes I need someone else to look at my piece and critique it. I like the fact of people behind me, whether or not its an Agent/editor/publishing house. I need the reassurance that my book is actually publishable and not something that I want published. I suppose it just comes down to what others think. If I wanted the book to be published just to be published that would work, but I want people in the business to respect my work.
>see the validation comment here, and I agree with it. But I wonder if people really understand the implications. We want validation, because we consider self-published novels 'not validated' – not up to scratch.
I've read through the slush pile of Authonomy and OWW and other online writing groups. There's an awful lot of dreck out there. We all know, we've all read it. So the bottom line is, we as readers rely on the publishing industry to sort through that dreck and find the nuggets of gold. I don't know about you, but I'd rather pay $10 to $20 for a published novel that I know has been through the process than lay down .99c for dreck.
And because of that reasoning, I want my work to be gold, not dreck. I want my work to be good enough to be paid for – to have the rush someone else was talking about when someone laid down good money for my hard work.
I don't want to call myself 'published' because I practically gave away my work in desperation. I want to call myself published – and actually be published by a big house – I want to be good enough for that.
>In addition to the fact that traditional publishing is… well… just plan cool, one major reason I'm pursuing traditional publishing is that I'm seeking the support and covering only a publisher can provide.
My thinking is that if I can't find a publisher, my book is probably not yet ready for the market.
>Holy Canoly!! I hope you've take a week off to read these comments, Rachelle. Did you have any idea you'd pushed such a Hot Button? (Sure you did.)
I hope for traditional publishing because I want "smart friends" to help me make my book the best it can be and then stick their foot in the slamming doors, shouting my name!! : D
>I've tried self-publishing and I didn't like it. I want a publisher behind me and professionals who know what they are talking about.
>Despite the current trends to e- and self-publishing, I need to try the traditional publishing route for my own personal goal. I feel like jumping right to self-publishing without going to traditional route first is a cop out. It's like you (general you, not directed to anyone here) don't have enough faith in yourself or in your work, so you just get it out there however you can.
>Quality control. Traditional publishing means the book has been 1)approved by someone who knows a little something about writing.
2)edited by someone who knows a lot about writing
3)printed/marketed/placed so that it has the best chance to be sold to a wide range of readers, everywhere. (as in not just on the internet or from my garage)
It used to be that writers had to put some effort out to earn the right to the title of author. I've put that work out. I've cried over crappy manuscripts and studied until I understood these rules that seem to be optional to others. To self publish, to me, is taking the easy way out. "I don't want to wait, the editor will ruin my book, I want all of the money and not just a fraction, etc" are all just excuses for "I don't want to wait until I'm good enough."
It's frustrating and yes, I'm about fed up with this agent hunting. after 100 or so rejections, it wears on a person. But I know I can write, I know what I have is worth reading, and I'm not selling myself short by publishing it myself.
>Rachelle – I sent a message to WordServe re: your response to my comment. Hope you get it; if not – in essence – it is a heartfelt "thank you"…:-)
>I just attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference and the best advice I received about self publishing and traditional publishing from an editor was to let God guide your decision. That way you will never go wrong!
>I grew up in a town without a library or a bookstore, and I longed for books. I still do. I love them. I love holding them, reading them, seeing them in my home. Books are my favorite decorating item. I spend a lot of time at the computer. When I relax, I want the friendship of a printed book. I love working with an agent, an editor and the joy of book signings where you meet new people who appreciate what you've written.
Last but not least, I would like to lend my support to an agent by writing a book he/she can sell and my bookstore or library can add to its shelves.
>Anybody can self-publish. Not everything that is self-published is good. Not everyone can traditional publish. Not everything that is traditionally published is good.
As a first time novelist, who doesn't understand the business of publishing very well, I need a strong support network. I want a professional helping me with the process, because I've worked really hard and I don't want to screw this up! I think if you are a seasoned author and you know the business very well self-publishing is a great option for you, especially if you already have a loyal fan base that will follow you along to the digital world. But for a new author, I'm not sure that putting my book up on Amazon and seeing it as #120,000 in their ranking would do for me.
And then lets talk about my ego. I want to walk into a bookstore and see my book on the shelf. I want my kids to pick up a physical book with Mom's name on it and be proud of me. I'm just not sure I will get the same sense of satisfaction seeing a digital thumbnail of my cover online.
>Melissa, thank you for that link to "The Kindle Swindle." That is amazing, and you're right: It's an important topic for people in publishing to be talking about. This is the first I've heard of it! Going to post where I can. (would love to get in touch with you…if you're on twitter I'm at @kelcrocker)
>Because I want to make a business of it. Traditional publishing gives me the best chance of that, because an agent will know the ropes. Also, with self-publishing, there are a ton of marketing decisions that have to be made, and I'm not an expert on that. Publishing houses have marketing departments that will pick a better title (because mine isn't so great) and a fantastic cover, and my agent will give me invaluable advice about, well, everything.
Oops. Long post, but self-publishing just isn't an option for me. Thanks!
>I am pursuing traditional publishing because as both a librarian who purchases books and an author, I see a higher standard of quality in the writing, marketing, and general design of traditionally published material. I have been burned more than once with self-published materials that were full of errors and poorly constructed. Now I only purchase traditional materials. I want my own book to hold up to those standards as well.
>I am pursuing traditional publishing for the credibility it brings, and the opportunity to reach other audiences than I could on my own. I also would enjoy being a partner with a traditional house in promoting my work.
Really interesting to read the varying viewpoints and reasons for them. Thanks for inviting this conversation.
>I am pursuing publishing because I respect publishers and all the expertise there. I want my book to be published by those experts.
>I want my novel published by a traditional print publisher, so I can be sure it's deserving of publication. I'm totally happy if the publisher decides to digitally publish it too, but I still believe that a traditional publisher will not put anything to their imprint unless they're satisfied it's of the highest merit and quality.
I'm sure many self-published books go through rigorous editing too, but I think a traditionally published book offers an implied level of quality and editing.
Walking into a bookstore and seeing my novel physically on the shelf is the stuff of dreams. Also my novel holds broad appeal, and I could never market it adequately myself by self-publishing, and couldn’t guess how anyone would find it as an e-book without a name or publisher backing.
I’ll feel much more validated and supported in getting out there and promoting my book for all I’m worth with the blessing of a traditional publisher behind me.
I don’t believe publishing is dying. Changing, definitely. Publishers/traditional publishing will change to meet the needs of readers, but I think it is far too premature to sound the death knell yet.
>I originally planned on self-publishing, but I realized that it is not the proper route for my novel. I would like the message in my work to reach a wider audience, and since my professional job is not in publishing I know I need help with it.
Although I have not shut the door on self-publishing, it will be my last resort.
>One word: Validation.
I totally agree on you on the quality concern. It irritates me to no end that some “writers” are treating self-publishing (e-Pub) like a get-rich scheme. Flood the market with masses of sub-par books (penny dreadfuls), and cash in on people who don’t know any better? That’s so unethical. And so is this:
(BTW, I’m amazed that no agent or legitimate self-publisher has blogged about this topic; it’s relevant. Highly relevant – to all of us who purchase eBooks.)
When Amazon, et. al figure out a way to prevent people from “gaming” the system, only then I would consider e-publishing a viable method of delivery. That hasn’t happened yet.
>I definitely admire anyone who self-publishes his or her writing, because it requires a lot of work. But I don't think that I could do that, especially because I don't really know anything about publishing; I'm afraid I might do something wrong and it would have a negative impact on my book.
>Thank you for this post, Rachelle! 🙂
I'm pursuing traditional publishing because, if it is God's will, I want to share this story He has given me with others, for His glory and to remind others of His love for them. 🙂
>When someone tells me they have a book published I go," Wow!" But when they add that they published it themselves I mutter, "oh," and lose interest. My dog could self publish-if I lent him the money.
I want, "Wows!" for my novels! And "Wow!" in my own heart.
>When all's said and done, mainstream publishing still carries a hard-won, well-deserved credibility and acceptance that self-publishing, no matter how good the material within, will never achieve.
>I want to publish with a traditional house because I am not a sales person. oh I can promote my books and do but I do not want 200+ boxes showing up on my door step waiting for me to go door-to-door pushing my wares. I believe editors, agents,illustrators and me, an author all do our jobs to our very best, working as a team we will produce the best possible book.
>I'm still going for the trad publishing route, but if my agent doesn't find me a publisher, I'll self publish on ebook.
>With my partner, I've self-published two books reasonably successfully (before the e-publishing revolution). Marketing and selling were the aspects I disliked the most. I self-published a magazine (print) for seven years. Selling advertising was the most difficult aspect.
I'm e-published by The Wild Rose Press and have found their editors to be wonderful – particularly the most recent editor who worked with me to polish an 11,000-word Regency. I learnt so much during this process.
With e-publishing, marketing is once again the most difficult aspect, although I do enjoy online marketing much more than cold-calling in person or by telephone.
I've been traditionally published with short stories in magazines and two series of oral histories for children.
So I've had a go at everything. Do I want to be a traditionally published novelist? Yes. It still seems the most credible way to be published. I'd love to see my novels in retailers, to receive my package of complimentary books, to sign them and give them to the people who've helped me along the way, to stack them on the bookshelves beside my desk.
I love printed material – books, magazines, newspapers – even junk mail. I can no more imagine a world without books than I can a world without bees or frogs. If some of those books could be written by me and stacked on readers' bookshelves I'd feel validated as a 'proper' novelist.
>Would you consider Tate Publishing self-publishing or traditional–even though they do require you obtain a marketing agent?
I've been offered a contract by them, twice (about a year ago & then today I was contacted again). I'd like to be published traditionally. For the same reasons mentioned–good quality editing, an agent/publisher (other than me) who love it, and wide marketing opportunities.
>So many reasons. Number one, I LOVE BOOKS, I do not enjoy the e-readers other devices, I prefer to hold the real thing. Books meant life and escape to me, and I spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book. The smell and feel of books have not been emulated by e-readers.
Number two – I've read a lot of bad self-published books, there are very few professional books that are self-published.
Number Three – If you have a good story, it needs to be well told. Dealing with agents and publishers and their guidance will help my story evolve to the best it can be.
Number Four – There is still way to much that I don't know about publishing and using professionals will help me to get my material to a wider audience.
Number Five – don't re-invent the wheel.
Besides, I think it would be awesome working with an agent and sharpening the words in a book.
I hope you have an awesome weekend.
>Because I equate self publishing with being fleeced by dishonest agents and publishers. The field has zero governance, and authors, new and old but especially new, are prey to scams.
Writer Beware can only do so much, and they are up against it, in many ways.
Also, what do you mean by self publishing? Ebooks? The ones for 99¢?
Well, shut my mouth.
Why bother working for months or years writing a book? Create something funny, frightening, insightful, useful, only to discover it's valued at less than one dollar. That increasingly, readers begrudge that 99¢. Like tunes after the napster era, books should be F R E E.
The lure of self publishing is the cachet of the word "published." Sounds much nicer than saying, "Oh, I write a blog! You want my website address?"
Publishers, by and large, will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. So newbies need an agent. That's why we read blogs written by agents or staff, thinking free advice and suggestions might help us get published.
As if …
I would want an agent who isn't writing a blog (with an eye to getting published one day).
Meanwhile, agents are overwhelmed, jaded, cynical, or playing Farmville.
There are less and less readers. That ain't doom n gloom, that is fact. Getting published has become an ever diminishing game of musical chairs to see who becomes this years Grace Metalious, Harold Robbins, Jacqueline Susann.
Authors we don't read any more.
>I prefer traditional publishing to validate my writing and receive support and promotion of my book.
I regret publishing with a vanity publisher (POD) a few years ago, but didn't know much about publishing a book at the time. Since then, I've researched and also find your blog interesting and informative.
>In all honesty, traditional publishing is my dream. It always has been. I want the backing of a professional team (agent, editor, publisher) behind me…or in front of me for that matter. I need the wisdom and guidance of such a team. It would take too much away from my writing to go it any other way.
>Hmmm! Excellent question.
Traditional publishing for me because
1. I want to be that good. I may have a longer journey because of it but I want to learn what I need to know and apply myself to the discipline as well as the creative process.
2. I am not the best at marketing and sales so I want support in that endeavor.
3. I would like accountability. Someone (my agent and/or publisher hopefully) who knows me and can challenge me as well as enourage me and maybe even help me see outside of my own little flashlight circle. Two flashlights are always better than one. 🙂
However, I am intrigued by the small publishing houses (one I'm thinking of is recognized by ACFW- not a vanity press but a small corp.) that publishes books by demand not in mass. It targets online booksellers (which is the direction book sales seem to be going) and a target audience.
The reasons I would consider going that route are
1. because there is still the accountability, the need to write a good book etc.
2. I actually like the fact that you don't get a bonus for yet to be sold books. Instead you make only what is sold. I don't like the idea of a book bonus (I know I'm nuts) but it makes me feel like I'm indebted.
I guess this is just me thinking out loud. I'll stop. Thanks for asking the question, Rachelle
>So I post my reasons for wanting a traditional publishing deal on Twitter/Facebook, and am immediately told I need to follow two well known authors who advocate self-publishing.
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because my genre (Regency romance) is glutted…and I don't have the time to do all my marketing myself, without the name of one of the big 6 behind me. I'd just feel much more comfortable calling stores and doing marketing for myself if I can say it's published by (*wishful thinking*) Avon or Berkley.
I don't mind doing marketing, but the self-promotion is just that much harder if you're self-published.
>Traditional publishing…what's that?
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because:
1) I will not feel fully validated as a writer until I have published a novel with a traditional publisher. For me, self-publishing would be an admission of failure.
2) I want my work to be professionally edited, designed, and marketed, and I cannot afford to pay for those services myself.
3) Related to (2), I want a team on my side. I don't want to be all alone out there in that dog-eat-dog world.
>Since I had a book that appealed to a niche market, I have already tried self-publishing (with WinePress, a great company). However, I am pursuing traditional publishing now because I am writing books with broader appeal and because I am not good at marketing my own books. I need help in the areas of marketing and distribution.
>I'm pursuing it because I want to know my work is of professional quality. I want to know that I meet the standards required by professional publishers. If I don't make it, I will have learned a lot and if I do make it, I will know it's by God's grace and a lot of hard work.
>Traditional publishing appeals to me because I don't want to feel like I'm in it "alone." I like the idea of having a team of experts supporting me and helping me to make my book its best.
>Kellye- thanks for that! I agree; the bottom line IS quality- impeccable sentence construction, appropriate vocabulary, and good spelling and punctuation
>Lance, I thought you were going to say something about "…and then I didn't earn as much as if I had produced it myself," or something. Anyway, yes, cool.
Melissa: Thank you for the link to Jenny Bent's blog. It's a great companion piece to Rachelle's post and all of these comments.
I agree with Jenny Bent in that I hate that elitist attitude. (I'm a Midwestern Girl who spent 10 years writing for New York magazine editors, where I experienced a bit of that.) When I think of the gatekeeping role in publishing, I think of it more in terms of quality. (Even when a Reality Star publishes traditionally, you hope that there won't be tons of typos or grammatical mistakes.)
I'm also excited about all the new things happening today–with traditional publishers and others. I think there are a lot of cool opportunities for writers and readers. Again, the bottom line for me is quality. Every story isn't for every reader, but I believe every book (e-book or paper) should meet certain standards for grammar, story-telling, formatting, etc.
>A few years ago when I was working in electronic games, I walked into a store and saw on the shelf a copy of the game I'd just worked on.
I did that, I told myself. That's my game.
Then someone came by, took the box off the shelf, and bought it.
There's no cooler feeling. That feeling paid for months of long hours and frustration on my next project.
That's what I want from trad pub. It's not the supposed mark of quality (I mean, Snooki?) or the marketing team I probably won't get or the relationship with an editor I probably won't have. I want to watch a real person not related to me take my book off a shelf and plunk down real money for it. It's a better rush than crack, and it's legal.
>I want to produce the best books I can and get them to as many readers as possible.
There has been so much on the Internet lately about self-publishing. I wouldn't rule it out for myself, if I don't make it in traditional publishing and IF (only if) I could guarantee the quality of my books.
I am sure there are good self-published books out there, but I haven't read them. I'm NOT trying to be snarky. I simply have a huge TBR pile. I don't have a problem finding more than enough good books through traditional publishing venues, so I'm not looking elsewhere. (If one of my fave authors self-published something, sure, I'd take a chance. As others have said, it's about platform. Also, I would hope it would be the highest quality.)
As a former book reviewer in the mid-2000s, I received many self-published books. The best of them were what I would call "sort of okay," and that's not good enough.
As I've followed various debates on this issue the past few weeks, I keep coming back to this: I'm afraid that many (not all) self-published authors simply do not realize what it takes to write and revise a good novel or nonfiction work.
Again, I'm not trying to put anybody down and hope that I'm not misunderstood, but I've read comments from people who say "I've worked really hard" and "this is my dream." I don't think they're lying, I just don't think they have anyone in their lives pushing them to do better; perhaps they haven't had the experience of having someone push them beyond what they thought they were capable of. I had this in graduate school, and am grateful. However, I will be paying off my MFA student loans for many, many years. (Do I think you have to have an MFA to make it? Absolutely not. Of course, that's a whole other topic. But it does show that I am committed, not just to random publishing, but to craft.)
Many of us who want to break into traditional publishing also are working hard to make our dreams come true. Sometimes it can seem as if some self-published people are just looking for a shortcut, and that rankles. Why? Because books and stories and literature are important.
>BTW- thank you to Rachelle and all commentators for stimulating ideas. This has certainly made me think hard about what I do, and has made me define it to myself more exactly. Good luck to all of you out there, and er– my list is full!
>I was always one of those super shy kids who had to be invited to a party formally before I would consider going. I could never, ever invite myself. That has carried over into adulthood, especially as it pertains to publishing. The traditional route means I'm being invited to the party.
However, I absolutely respect people who choose to self-publish. I read two short story compilations this year that were both self-published and they were quite good.
Thank you for keeping up such an awesome blog, Rachelle. First time commenting, but I read every day.
>Kathy T- Cynthia H and many others- having someone on your side, but also looking in a cool critical way at your work is certainly one of the advantages of traditional publishing, and I have to say that my decision to "go indie" was taken after I had looked at, and rejected various self-pubbing channels, from YouWriteOn, through Lulu to extremely exploitative and expensive "packages" presented as if they were real publishing. In the UK, you HAVE to be a publisher to buy isbns and to use Lightning Source. And as one American correspondent warned me- it wasn't for the faint hearted. The amount of sheer hard work involved means that I would not take on any book which I didn't believe to be very well written, well constructed and of weight and quality. I suppose in that respect i am like any other publisher, except that, working on a smaller scale, I can afford to take risks with more unusual books, which perhaps have a minority readership.
>I'm bad at marketing. I'm bad at selling. I'm quiet and have a small voice.
This is why I write, it's the only place my voice is loud and bold and uninhibited. My voice finally matches my ideas.
In fact, the hardest part of traditional publishing is selling myself to an agent.
I need help. My big ideas and big thoughts need a big voice. Mine won't do.
(Now I just need to find that one agent who can hear my voice and give it all I've got!)
>I urge anyone who considers self-published books uniformly bad to read literary agent Jenny Bent’s take on the subject:
A lot of those “bad” self-published eBooks you see may have been written by authors who came really close to getting published. However, for some reason, a publishing house decided that their book didn’t have mass appeal (and I think that Bent summed up the reasons very nicely – these books were either too “quiet” or too quirky). If you dismiss these authors, you could be depriving yourself of the best book you’ve read this year. ☺
There’s room in the publishing business for everyone. IMHO, self-publishing should be a business decision, nothing else.
>I prefer traditional publishing because I don't want to navigate the publishing waters alone. I want someone who's in my corner and who has my best interest at heart. I also think the final product is more tangible.
>My queen bee of all reasons: I have been "co-published," and I am far less than pleased with the results.
>I've carefully considered both options, weighing the pros and cons. I have opted to pursue traditional publishing, but I also have great respect for anyone pursuing self-pub. It's hard work. Honestly, if they can succeed at it, it is an admirable achievement. I'm not knocking it. There's more than one way to do something right.
It's not about validation for me, but an extra set of eyes is always welcome so that I can put out my best work. I don't read e-books…yet, but I can tell you that there are plenty of books in print that have errors in them. I'm eager to touch readers with my writing, but I'm a writer, a storyteller, not a publisher. Let's keep it that way. I'm also a team player. I like having someone at my back helping out with the dirty work and sharing in my joy.
Times are changing, so is the quality of writing. Sadly, I see more of that with texting taking over. Kids are completing job applications in text form. Huh, I cringe if I can't locate the puntuations marks on my phone.
Marketing. Editing. Promoting. Distributing. Le's see, with day job, family, writing, why don't I just give up sleep?
>An awful lot of what I see that is self-published/e-book is a lot of awful.
I cannot count the number of self-published books or e-books that are well-constructed stories, because I have not come across one yet.
There are a lot of published novels that are not beautiful or lovely or great, but they mostly meet the bar of consistency and form.
I don't see much difference between self-published book or e-books and fanfic.
Now, the caveat is that the self-published or e-book that stands on its own has been, in my experience, uniformly bad.
The e-book that is based upon an existing, published book is, of course, as good as the original.
The "traditional" publishing process serves to be a gatekeeper between the truly awful and the merely unwanted.
>I want the validation. To know that someone besides my husband and my mom thinks I should write books.
>Once my manuscripts are ready to be published, I plan to pursue traditional publishing. I have numerous reasons why–many of them listed by posters above.
Perhaps the primary reason I plan to seek traditional publishing is the wide perception that self-published books are not up to the same standards or as respected. Whether true or not, I don't want my hard work thought of in such a way.
I feel there are exceptional authors in both categories. Labels can be unfair and hurtful.
Thanks for the thought-provoking question. Fabulous post.
>I think those who are slamming self-pubbing haven't read very much outside of the box. I've recently been reading several indie authors and LOVED them! The books were well written and well edited.
I am pursuing traditional publishing because I want my books to be in stores across the country. I want people who actually still read PAPER books to have access to them. As hard as it is for "us" to believe, everybody isn't glued to FB, twitter and the interwebs all day everyday! I am a newspaper columnist and I meet readers consistently who don't know that I have a blog or even know what a blog is. They want BOOKS. They want to be able to tell their friends where they can buy my books.
That said, if my agent (and I do have one) came to me tomorrow and said she couldn't sell my books traditionally, I would pursue self-pubbing with gusto. I believe in myself. Go big or go home! 🙂
>1) I'm already self-employed in another field. I want to use that experience to help my book, but I don't want to be the only one on the team.
2) My best writer-buddy spent TWO YEARS significantly revising his book, first before his agent would take it, then before his agent would submit it. I read it in several incarnations, and it's a better book now. It's the best book he could write at this time in his life. A major publisher picked it up, and guess what? Almost no revisions from them, because he'd already made it as good as possible. Charlaine Harris blurbed it. It's getting released at a good time of year. The cover is beautiful. AND IT'S GOOD.
I want that for my book. I want someone to push me – someone who has the power to say no to me – to make the best book I can, and complement my best efforts with theirs, so that my book will be the best I can write at that time.
My buddy's agent died, and he's not screwed, because she set up great things for him and it was easy for him to get another agent and his publisher's committed to him. I want that, too.
It's all about having someone with the power to say no, not good enough yet. I've read comments (here and elsewhere) from people who express strong resentment that the publishing world is a world of no. But that's what makes yes so worthwhile. And it's hard to accept that our best efforts may not be good enough to get to yes, but it makes the yeses sweeter for those who get them. (Life's not fair and neither is publishing)
>Sorry, Rachelle. I didn't think my reply constituted a "cat fight" — just responding to someone who was obviously "demeaning" self-publishing. But, not to worry. I'll just continue to lurk and keep my "disagreement is welcome" comments to myself.
>Getting published "traditionally" is my goal for three reasons: getting space on bookstore shelves, the possibility of a little bit of help with marketing, and the perceived credibility of having been published. Self-published books are sooo difficult if not impossible to get into bookstores. I know that getting a publisher is no guarantee but it still is a better shot than self-published.
And as for the quality of books being better if they are published traditionally, I think that's utter nonsense. I have read quite a few books from traditional publishers that were garbage. Look at some of these books by celebrities or politicians – ugh! And established writers come out with some dogs too (sorry for that analogy, my canine friends) which we know were published just because of the writer's name and reputation.
I believe that there's a place for both traditional and self-publishing and it's up to the author to determine which best suits him or her and the project.
Have a great weekend everyone!
>I did NOT intend this post to trash self-publishing or start having cat-fights across the aisle. The sole purpose here is for people to talk about the reasons they're pursuing traditional publishing, and I don't think you have to demean those who choose self-pub to do that.
>Fatboy said: A fool can spend his own money to self publish garbage. I don't think agents and publishers are foolish enough to spend their money publishing some one elses garbage
For the record, I didn't spend a dime "self-publishing." Plus, before you consider calling it garbage, please read it.
As for agents/publishers foolishly spending their money on "some one elses (sic)" garbage…well, I read enough trad-published books to know better.
>I have every sympathy with most of these comments, and have seen some truly terrible self published books. On the other hand, I have also read some seriously badly written traditionally published books. I can only comment from my personal experience as a writer, and friend of the writer whose book I decided eventually to publish myself. This after doing the round of agents and publishers on her behalf (she is incapacitated by a stroke) Kathleen is a former prize winning historical novelist, so I thought that it would be easy to find her an agent. Not so- and I was assured by the various agents I contacted that this was nothing to do with the quality of her writing. In the end, I decided to form my own publishing company, using PoD but a scaled down model of traditional publishing: I invested the money and time- employed an editor and a designer and undertook promotion and some very limited local distribution as I live in the area which is the book's setting. After just over a month, I have nearly covered my outlay, although I am unlikely ever to get paid for my time! This isn't SELF publishing, strictly speaking, as I am not the author, and am able to be a gate-keeper for what Trifolium Books UK publishes, but it isn't really traditional publishing either. PoD made it financially viable for me to do it is all! I do understand the desire of a writer for external and disinterested validation, but it is with books, reading and publication as with everything else- we are grown up now, and can make our own judgement: just as I can now read Lady Chatterly's Lover and judge it to be a not very good book- in fact somewhat dull and over-written, certainly not DHL's best, so can we all judge each book, self published or traditionally published, on its merits. For Kindle e-books, you can and should always download a sample three chapters. You will at least find out if the author can write. Many print books also have a see inside option on Amazon too- this is more reliable than reviews as far as quality of writing goes. "Caveat emptor"- at least emptors now have a real choice, not one decided for us by nanny publishers!
I am pursuing traditional publishing for one main reason and for one secondary reason.
Primary: I care more about getting my 'message' out to the broader Christian audience than I do about making more than 10 percent per book purchase. My dream is not about making big bucks, if that was the case I would have gone into a profession that isn't pastoral ministry 🙂
Secondary: I believe that with a publisher comes credibility. It means that they have chosen to partner with someone they believe in. There are too many self-published titles out there that are well… no good. Unedited. Uninspired. And the "un's" could go on. But I believe that credibility goes a long way.
Great post and no… publishing is not dead, for if it is… one of my dreams may die as well!
>After going through the publishing process for the first time, I cannot imagine trying to do big revisions, line edits, copy edits, proofreading, cover design, and marketing alone. And beyond all that, there is no way my work would be what it is without the careful prodding and praise of my editor and the many hands that have had a role in the process.
>I agree about disagreeing with those two disagreeable statements, Rachelle. 😉 Back when TV was invented, many gloom-and-doomers predicted the death knell of movie theaters. More than half a century later, we still have movie theaters all over this country (even though we did eventually lose most of the drive-ins). So, sure, things always change, but not as drastically as the forecasters think.
Why do I like being published in the traditional way? I stand with those who understand that the Good Ship of Publishing is far from sinking. It hasn't even hit an iceberg. Some wannabe passengers who can't earn the ticket have opted for sailboats, speedboats, or even rowboats as alternatives on their personal voyages, but for now I'll stick to the tried and true cruise liners, thank you.
>There are plenty of traditionally published writers who go on to self-publish for many reasons. For me, after having thirteen books traditionally published (anthologies and novels), I wanted to see how the other half lives.
I like having more control and being able to choose my cover. I had no say in any of the covers for the traditionally published books. I did, however, have one thing that most beginning self-published writers don't have and don't take the time to get, a good editor, one I've worked with for years.
Not all self-published books are poorly done and badly put together, as evidenced by the proof of my new novel, which looks as good as any traditionally published book. And not all traditionally published books are without errors or problems, as I can attest from my own experience as a reviewer for Authorlink, and I have reviewed nearly 300 books in the past 7 years.
However, that wouldn't stop me going with a traditional publisher who saw merit in my work and offered me the right deal. I decided I was tired of waiting after too many personal rejections that included comments where the agents/editors were really enthusiastic about the book but not enthusiastic enough, or they loved the book and the story, but just didn't see it as a good fit. I was complimented on my writing and the story line, as well as the execution (plot, characters, etc.), but no one wanted to take a chance, so I took the chance for myself.
Sometimes the validation isn't enough when people like Snooki (SP?) and an MTV reality TV star get the star treatment and good books written by authors with solid track records are ignored. Validation comes in many forms, including self-publishing.
>1) I have certain personal standards of professionalism that I want to be sure are met. Having an agent or publisher take me on serves as an objective sign post that my work is finally ready. Gatekeepers are there for a reason.
2) I want to prove to my extended family that writing is a job to be taken seriously. Traditional publishing shows that someone believes my work is valuable enough to invest money and time in. As sad as it is, I hope that will earn a modicum of respect for what I do.
3) I’ve read too many self-published books with a great concept but poor writing, and it makes me sad to think what they could have been if they’d waited.
>I want my book to be the best that it can be. And I know that traditional publishing will help me achieve that goal. I can't do it all by myself, and I'm certainly not going to try.
>Personal pet peeve (by the way): It really bugs me when an author tells me she's a published author, but then I find out that she's a self-published author.
There is a vast difference, in my eyes, because I've found very few self-published books (if any) that meet with the quality of the traditionally published books. I've found some I liked, but I could see huge flaws in the content and also the presentation. The only thing that saved them was the writer's voice.
>I think my reason that I'm pursuing traditional publishing boils down to this: there is a level of quality that comes from that team effort where everyone has a vested interest that rarely shows itself in the self-publishing world.
Think of some of your own posts. When does a writer's work really start? Often when a manuscript has been accepted for representation or publication. No one produces a perfect manuscript, and as soon as you get feedback from others, you're going to have to change something to make it better. When you self-publish, you miss out on this honing process. Plus you miss out on all the team experience available for a person who is going the traditional route.
Self-publishers get a fee. Since they have their money up front, and there is little incentive for them to give you a selling cover, a selling interior, etc.
Plus, I like the challenge of making the cut. That means something.
>The traditional route is my first choice for many of the reasons already mentioned. I want my product to be the best it can be. It is nonfiction and hopefully will be used for ministry. Having skilled sets of eyes making sure it is on the level both technically and spiritually is key for me. Also I like the benefits of being on store shelves, and book stores having easier access to the book. The downside for me is the "back of the room" sales which I believe will be huge and perhaps less of an advantage financially for me. But this first one is not about the money. Thanks for asking the question. more to think about!
>Why I am pursuing traditional publishing:
1) It's the best fit for my project, in terms of market, material, editing, packaging, distribution, and audience.
2) It's the best fit for me. I work extremely well as part of a creative team; it's what I do every day.
3) I very much respect professionals – agents, editors, graphic artists, PR experts, etc. – and I know I simply cannot do their jobs (or even supervise/ project manage their jobs) and still produce my best writing. Noooo way.
That said, I'm very open to innovations in publishing, such as e-books and/or books with more web integration. And who's to say – someday, I might come up with a different project and self-publishing will be the right route for that. You don't ever know.
My main goal is to continue building a solid, professional career in the company of other professionals whom I admire and respect, and in the service of an industry that I very much believe in… the art of telling stories.
>"We can safely assume that many other writers self-pubbed in Mark Twain's day. We don't know about them because their work didn't prove itself popular with thousands (now millions) of people like Twain's did."
I think, Rachelle, the above refutes your comment to me about self-publishing. Many writers self-published in Twain's day and do so now, but the good writers will be remembered. It takes time, good writing, good stories and a lot of perseverance to get to the top. The real validation, for all that traditional publishing offers, is in being read and remembered, and having thousands, and hopefully millions, read your work. However that happens, it counts.
>J.M. Cornwall: It's not relevant to compare today's "self pub" with writers of the past such as Mark Twain who started by self-publishing.
In their case, history has proven the enduring quality of these writers' work. Validation has come from generations of readers.
We can safely assume that many other writers self-pubbed in Mark Twain's day. We don't know about them because their work didn't prove itself popular with thousands (now millions) of people like Twain's did.
In the end, it's still all about validation and whether the readers like our work and choose to buy it, read it, and recommend it to others. Whether we are pursuing traditional or self-pub, we each choose the route we think will be most effective at helping us reach these goals.
>Because traditional is legit. Anyone can self-pub. I want to be counted among the few (or many) that find a house.
>I'm pursuing the traditional route with Rachelle as my agent because I want my career to be a marathon instead of a sprint and as much as I thought I knew everything, I don't. A guide (an agent) through the process who can help me where I'm weak and applaud where I'm strong has helped me to focus and raise my game. Self-publishing, for me, would have indulged my weaknesses and I would have wondered why I kept hitting a ceiling. It's not just about the writing.
>I am pursuing publication through the traditional route because I want the chance to have a print distribution, and I think it's somewhat easier to develop a following since you have the stamp of approval of a name house. BUT I don't need a traditional publisher to "validate" my writing.
Traditional publishers go for the books they believe they can sell. Not the one's that are necessarily the highest quality. I believe in my writing, and for the first time, I believe indie publishing may become a real option for me if the NY houses reject my work.
>I am pursuing traditional publishing for several reasons. Sure, it's partly validation that I was able to make it through the slush. But it's also because after my first novel was out being rejected, I moved to a new book and in that process saw tons of mistakes in my first. The process of rejection has made me a stronger storyteller, and I would not have had it with the self-gratification of self publishing.
Also, it's for the team. Agents know the business, they know their job. Some people are capable of self-publishing and breaking out quickly with a platform. I am not one of those people.
As an analogy, I'd rather make the jump tandem with an experienced skydiver, than go it alone.
>I want to be published in the traditional sense because anyone can self-publish. I (perhaps vainly) want the affirmation that comes from having an agent/editor say – you're good enough for me to take a chance on. I need to go through those gatekeepers to know that I've reached that level of professionalism that means I've 'made it' so to speak.
I know people who have self-published for really great reasons and done very well with it, and others who self-publish because they're afraid to send it and possibly be rejected. That's fine for them – but for me, I want to be published as a marker that I'm good enough to call myself a novelist or author.
>Because I want the validation that I'm good enough, and I'll never know if I was good enough if I didn't do it. And I'm the kind of person who is patient enough and willing to keep working enough, and who believes determination will help me accomplish my goals, so I have no problem if it takes years to get there.
If I self-published first, I'd never know if I was good enough. I'd be embarrassed at the possibility that I might be putting out substandard work, and more than anything, I wouldn't feel like I'd actually succeeded at this goal I've worked at for so many years.
For less emotional reasons, because I can't afford to self-publish, I don't believe I have what it takes to successfully market myself to the extent that I could sell well, and because I want my book to be carried in bookstores and be available to a wide audience. I also am not comfortable taking that kind of risk on a book I've worked so hard on. If I self-publish and fail, that book is basically dead in the water (unless I can manage to get famous at some point in the future, and really, how often does that happen?). I'm pretty confident in my skills, but I don't want to start at a disadvantage. I'd rather give my book the best chance it possibly has first, and if I can't manage that, then I see it as a statement that my book isn't good enough or professional enough yet, so I need to keep working and learning until it is.
>Joanne, much of Mark Twain's work was self-published. Do you view him differently because of that? He also hired a team of door-to-door salesmen to sell his books.
>So far, I've only managed to get through half the responses to your question about why we'd still choose to go for traditional publishing and, at the risk of sounding sappy, I agree with everything everyone's said in favour of traditional publishing.The word 'validation' comes up a lot. We work hard at staying buoyant, but the insecurity demon is always lurking. For me the 'v' word is key.
>For me, it's also validation. I KNOW I'm a good writer – but I feel like a publisher/agent would help me make it better accepted–and a better book.
I also can't afford to put the necessary money into self-publication.
>A fool can spend his own money to self publish garbage. I don't think agents and publishers are foolish enough to spend their money publishing some one elses garbage
>I want to be a traditionally published writer for the validation. If an agent thinks I'm good enough to represent then, Yea Me. If that agent finds a publisher that thinks my book is a worthwhile project then, Way to go Me! And if readers actually find it a good read then, Good for Me! Can you tell I'm insecure? I feel the process of working in a traditional system would be best for a newbie like me.
>I want traditional publishing because:
1. I get help/tips/support with how to be a Published Author
2. Several someones who aren't related in any way with me has approved of my writing – and these have seen a lot of writing and I trust their opinions.
And a some various other reasons.
Basically, I wouldn't try my hand at start up a building business on my own just because I'm good at making doors. I'd love to work for a building business, but not run it. I understand that some want that, but it's not for me.
Publishing is a trade – and I don't have time or interest to become an EXPERT in it. Not when I have a day job on full time, and write on "full time", and want a family.
>I would much rather go the traditional-publishing route because I know that I can't do it all alone. I can write the story, I can punch it up and do everything I can to get it publishable (with some help and input). But as far as the marketing, the advertising, the publicity? That is more than I feel like I can handle. So I feel like I need a traditional publisher to handle those chores for me.
>Self-publishing must be held as a viable option, and while those (like the previous Anonymous contributor) continue to attack it, we (writers) as a whole must embrace it and support it. Don't be afraid that it might get lost in the masses of other books…would you rather hope and pray you get accepted by the ever shrinking traditional publishers, or see your book in print and then let the market decide, not a line of "gatekeepers". For me the choice is obvious.
>Because I want to write and let the editors and agent handle the money and the details and organization. Besides, creating a book is best when it's a team effort between dedicated individuals who all love the book, but can bring their own skills to the table–writer, agent, editor, designer, printer.
But mostly–I don't want to have to pay for publishing. If a publisher has that much faith in it, I'm more than happy to let them pay me an advance and front the costs.
>I want a writing career. Right now, self-pub is a workable option, but it feels like the Wild West–some people succeed, some people fail. And who knows when the gold rush will die out and leave all the self-pubbers out there in ghost towns? Sure, trad pubbing is a risk, too, but it feels like the safer route for someone who wants to spend a lifetime writing and publishing books.
I feel like self-pubbing right now, especially with e-pubbing now an option, is a free-for-all. It's the dizzying, uncharted, unboundaried world of the very, very new. It won't stay that way forever. It will either remain a very open frontier where anyone can succeed with some luck and lots of work…or it could end up closed off as e-pubbing is controlled further by traditional publishing. My bet is on the latter. So I'm sticking with the stodgy old-fashioned way because I think the stodgy way is going to win out over the frontier. Frontiers never last forever.
>For me, it has to do with validation. I have a story that I believe should be told. I want someone else to believe that too. Someone who will believe in it so much they will fight for it.
I know that there are a lot of really good self-pubbed books out there, but there are also a lot of not so good ones. (Poor grammar, poor writing) I want someone to take a look at my work and say, "Yeah, this is really good. Let's show it to others…together."
>As an author who has struggled for many, many years for his talent to be recognized and has finally broken throigh with a traditional publisher, I can understand why so many flood to the self-pub industry, especially at the urging of certain high-profile writers who already possessed a well-known name going in. But the titanic majority of people self-pubbing are getting a wakeup call the size of Gojira to learn that they're not going to perform as well. Not nearly as well. A new successful elite has formed within the self-pub world, a very select few, many of whom are previously traditionally published authors and already have a name and a platform, so anyone going that route had best be very, very well aware of that fact. But the real reason I pursued so long the traditional route without giving up or self-pubbing is simple: it was the path the Lord Jesus Christ desired me to take, and upon which to remain. Had I departed from that path, this blessing would not have come my way. For all of you out there, there are only 3 doors: do nothing, refuse to give up writing and persevere with traditional publishers, or do it yourself. Door 1 answers itself. Both Door 2 and Door 3 require commitment, perseverance, hard work and risk. Regardless of the door before which you stand, follow the heart the Lord has given you, and stay on the path. Enough said.
>I want somebody to sell my books who has some skin in the game. I want real marketing and real distribution (which doesn't necessarily mean a printed book). Your chances of getting noticed without a publisher is slightly lower than your chance of winning the lottery.
I want an advance.
I want a professional product in every way.
But mostly it's the marketing and drive to sell the book because the publisher has an investment in the product.
>Every time my novel encounters someone from a new and higher level of the publisphere, it gets a little better. I want to publish traditionally because I believe that will be the best possible form of the book. I'd rather go through the rejection, revision, and perseverance and end up with a book I can be really proud of than rush to self-publishing with something that's not totally-awesome-to-the-bone.
In short, I'd rather embarrass myself in private and hold out for glory in public. The world doesn't need to see my drafts.
>I go back and forth on this one. I don't need validation, necessarily. I should be a self-starter, able to set and keep deadlines. I should know by gut instinct whether my work is ready for publication. My problem is a lack of knowledge and training in the area of publishing. And, honestly, writing itself is such a difficult process that I don't know if I have room in my life to study publishing in depth. I have limited funds and limited time. Therefore, I choose to pursue the traditional route, regardless of whether traditional publishers ever choose me.
>I want the traditional publishing for three reason:
1) I want validation. I want someone other than myself, my writing mentor, my crit partners saying, "This is good!" All those people have some kind of personal investment in me. I want to hear from a totally non-biased professional.
2) Following on #1, I want the completely non-biased, professional help from everyone involved in the process.
3) I want to be pushed to bring my novel to the best I can achieve. Somehow, unless I spent tons of money, I don't think that would happen with self-publishing.
>I am looking at both traditional and self publication. I have enough connections to create a novel with professional artwork and editing without a company. I am confident I can sell it pretty well too (not like a big name company however). I'm not shy, and I'm not really broke. And to not intentionally sound arrogant, I have a gift for writing I discovered at a young age and spent the last 20 years "perfecting" my skills and talent. I am my biggest critic. Why I would pursue traditional publication isn't because I want to feel successful, or be validated. I will feel that once I'm published either way, and I make my first sale. What I'm looking for is someone to assist me and direct me as I do what I do best. I just want to write. And I've been told the best editors work for companies. My debut may be done through self-pub, just to build my platform. And even though I'm tech savvy, I still buy nothing but paper books. And will continue to read more paper than e-books, even after I get my kindle tomorrow.
>I have been offered a number of self publishing opportunities, but I chose to persue the traditional route for a couple reasons. I don't possess the resources required up front for a first class publication, and second I prefer to focus as much as possible on the writing elements and as little as possible on all the other details that self publishing a quality product requires. Authors have to market their work regardless which route we chose, but the help of an established respected publisher helps move everything forward more efficiently, especially for the first time project.
>Acceptance, legitimacy & affirmation that I am good enough to do it the old-fashioned way. Anyone can self-publish.
>I want as many people as possible to read my writing – I think traditional publishing is the best way to make that happen.
Then I had a brilliant publicist, who built on that, got me onto network TV, all sorts of NPR shows and print. All that came together to land the book (Columbine) on the NYT list its first week out.
No one person could have done even the marketing. Certainly not me, but not anyone. It took a whole team of people, all at the top of their game.
And long before any of that, was a great editor and great agent, who helped me figure out how to cut 500 pages, over four major passes and several minor ones. (After months on it with my editor, the last pass was his assistant reading it fresh and making margin notes in one color pen. Then my editor read his suggestions and commented on the comments in another color ink, so I could see two more points of view on every item and decide.)
There were so many more steps. It all lasted about 15 months, from my first submission to them until pub day. And then my publicist and his assistant were still in overdrive. People were working on it that entire time. Sometimes several teams at once.
It was amazing.
>Thanks for this reality check: the post and the great comments. I saw more of my own reasons than I realized in there.
For me, it's mainly about the huge and talented team that worked on my book. I did one central job. They did so many others.
I had been following the biz for 20 years and fully expected some version of this. But I was shocked at the number of people at Hachette who got so involved, and how good they were at their jobs.
Beyond the obvious ones, the chief counsel for the company did a thorough legal vetting–just the conference call to discuss her list lasted four hours. (It was grueling and kind of scary, but I felt so much more secure afterward.)
The copyediting went so far beyond what I'd expected. I estimated there were about 10,000 individual corrections in blue pencil, plus I think 800 margin questions I had to respond to. She found things like: On p. x you say the killers spent 4 minutes outside, page y you say this many minutes in the hallway, page z so many in the library, and that adds up to 16 minutes and on this other page you say 17 minutes. Wow. There were countless examples like that. And I'd already had it vetted by several people, in different ways, but no one came close to how good she was.
I learned later that the whole approach to how position the book to publishers and the public developed over a whole series of consultations between my editor, the sales staff and especially the national accounts rep for Borders–and by her pitching it to several influential people at Borders six months before publication, getting them to read it, getting their reactions to that approach, refining it . . .
>I'm pursuing the traditional route of publishing because I want to work with professionals who will help me make my stories the best they can be. It's also a form of validation for me that someone thinks my work is good enough to take a chance and pay money for it and publish my books.
>My traditional publisher (Tyndale) and my team there are like a family. Honoring that relationship blesses me and my book-writing. But it also stretches me–to listen and to learn.
>Because I'm of the old school, I guess. If I can't write well enough and then persistently pursue a contract for those books, then I've not reached my ultimate goal. Enduring all the challenges of achieving traditional publishing is a journey of persistence, commitment and growth that I don't want to miss.
>In addition to the reasons above, I will seek traditional publishing because I feel like the audience/readership for the book I'm writing deserves to have a book that is validated,worthy of being published.
It's on a difficult subject and there are only a handful of self-published non-fiction (memoir) books on the topic. So I feel like if a novel came out, backed by a traditional publisher, that these particular readers/writers would feel like their own stories (their life stories) were finally validated.
I'm not sure if that makes sense to anyone but me, but that's my reason.
>I want to be published traditionally because I want people to see my book when they go to the grocery store, to the mall, to the pharmacy, to the airport, and not just when they're online.
I also want a well reputed publishing company brand on my book.
And most importantly, I want professional, experienced help going into this, which I know I can't or don't know how to find if I were to do it on my own.
>I want to pursue traditional publishing because I want the "writer's life".
I want an agent. I want someone in my corner that will help me make career choices and improve my writing.
I want an editor, publisher, the exposure. It's how I've always thought of my writing career. If I am rejected I will assume that means I am not quite there yet.
>I considered going traditional. I even have the query letters written. I was even planning on waiting things out and seeing how (if?) the publishing contracts adjust to reflect e-book sales.
But then I started, y'know, looking at where the few book 1's I was revising would lead to, later in the series. I realized that my books seem similar to all those books I hear about and fall in love with only after the publisher has canceled the series because it didn't sell well enough. It makes me nervous.
Yes, I've stepped into the self-pub waters, but only for one project, right now. I have more. I'm planning on trying trad route first for one project. I even have another penname picked out and domain name reserved.
>I will pursue traditional publication…
…to offer my characters and stories the opportunity to be the best they could be under the tutored direction of seasoned editors and agent.
…to avoid blending into a miasma of mediocre e-books that are flooding the market without sufficient editing. It's embarrassing for every writer, the crap being passed as "published" right now.
…while the publishing industry as a whole is tooth and nail, my limited engagement with it has shown me there are individuals in the industry who are, themselves, kind and encouraging and amazing. I look forwards to meeting those people.
…the day I can gift my book to everyone in my family, and every person I've ever met, wrapped with a bow and stuffed in a stocking…will be a dream come true.
…because I have faith that the traditional publishing model will grow and adjust to our new world. I also have faith that e-publishing or self-publishing will also grow and adjust to our new world. So that both models will be worthy of the creative output of so many amazing authors. That I'm proud to count myself amongst.
>Wow! Lots of comments! I'll just slide my comment in here with everyone elses! 🙂
Why do I want to be traditionally published? It's always been my dream, but I guess when you get right down to it, I want to excell at my writing until I find a publisher willing to publish my work. When I DO, then I know my writing has finally improved enough to be "read-worthy"! 🙂
>I would pursue traditional publishing because I would like the affirmation and bragging rights that I made it through the gauntlet.
>I would prefer to publish with a traditional publisher because I don't write genre fiction. It seems that the authors have the most success with self-publishing are writing paranormal romance, traditional romance, or horror. I write blurred-genre literary fiction. The people who would buy my book MIGHT buy an e-copy, but would more likely find it while browsing a brick-and-morter.
>I would prefer to publish with a traditional publisher, but I have chosen to self-publish because I'm tired of hearing "Your writing is strong; I can't sell it" and "You are a great writer; we don't want it" and "You have a great concept; we won't buy it."
The dues to entry into traditional publishing, to successfully go through the sequential gatekeepers, are too high.
>I want to be traditionally published because writing is all about communicating with the reader. For me, traditional publishing is the best route to communicating with as many readers as possible.
That said, here's a little raw, unedited truth: I also need the affirmation. Deep down, I'm still trying to silence voices from my childhood that say everything I write is ****.
Writing is a solitary craft, but publishing great books is always a collaborative effort. I'm blessed with an agent who believes in me and my work, even though she's yet to make a dime from me. With firm compassion, she tells me what I NEED to hear, not what I WANT to hear (although it's okay if need and want are the same). She's made me a better writer–and one day soon, her investment will pay off.
For me (at this point in my journey at least), self-publishing would be a short-cut leading to the wrong destination.
>Great discussion, Rachelle!
I'm working to be published traditionally because I think my work can reach a more varied audience with a publisher's support (in addition to my own online community-building). And while self-publishing appeals to my entrepreneurial side (selling informational e-books, not fiction), I still think there's a stigma to self-publishing that I can avoid by publishing traditionally.
Have a great weekend!
>Yesterday I ran into an acquaintance who has made several questionable life choices. I don't judge her on that because we've all made mistakes.
She told me she wrote a book about integrity. Thinking it might have something to offer, I went to her website and noticed she claimed to be a "Best Selling Author." She isn't. Needless to say, I did not purchase the $20 book.
With the self-publishing route you have good and bad books mixed together with no way of knowing which is which. Sure, traditional publishing puts out good and bad books but at least we know someone other than the author is giving it credibility.
>Great responses here.
As a traditionally published and agented author, I continue on the traditional route because:
1) VALIDATION matters, as others have said. Many self-pubbed books are poorly written.
2) DISTRIBUTION, relatively nil the self-pubbed route. At least there's a chance of national distribution the traditional route.
3) ELEVATION, the editing process dramatically improves the work.
4) SATISFACTION, honestly, there are bragging rights to being traditionally published. Conquering Mt Everest or something like that. Seeing your book @ Barnes & Noble is awesome.
5) COLLABORATION, it takes a village… and it's very tough to put out a great product alone.
Yes, I'm a preacher… but I believe in bookstores and paperbacks and high quality writing. Even more, I believe in THE GREAT COMMISSION, and every CBA book should further that cause it its own unique way.
Thanks for the opportunity to vent.
>I want the validation of a traditional publisher. Someone thought my book was awesome enough to invest thousands of dollars in.
I self-published my first book, had 4 traditionally-published, and now my FABULOUS agent is shopping one around, and I'm working on another one that I'll most likely self-publish because the subject matter just lends itself to that.
>I hope to be traditionally published because of all the research I've done and continue to do, I feel that an agent is someone who knows the industry better than myself. I feel that they have greater expertise in the publishing industry and are better capable to use that to my and their advantage. I also feel that because the know people in the industry that they know who to connect with and to for a given project. I on the other hand to do not. Also, I believe traditional publishing will allow me more time to write (although I will be doing some promotions and marketing taking this route as well) versus if I did self-publishing. If I chose the latter, I think a lot of my time would be taken up by promoting, marketing, production, distribution, etc. Not to mention I would be coming out of pocket for those expenses. So those are my reasons for wanting to be traditionally published.
>I want to put out the best book I possibly can and I think that can only be achieved by traditional publishing. It is far too easy for just anyone to self publish and I don't want to take the easy way out. In additional, there is something to be said about a traditional publishing house, that sees hundreds (thousands?) of books a year, pick mine out of all of them. What a sense of accomplishment!
The cherry on the top is that I don't have thousands of dollars to throw at self publishing. An investment for some, sure, but I don't want to take out a loan to pay to publish my own book… that no one may buy anyway.
>I'm after a traditional publishing deal because the subject matter of my book requires it, plain and simple. I have self published and I encourage all writers to do this at least once. It is a rite of passage that provides an author with a hands on opportunity to glean a greater understanding of the complexity of the business of printing and selling books.You really do garner a renewed respect for what agents and editors do on behalf of authors they sign. Most writers have no concept of monumental task of marketing and promotion and the degree to which these two areas of publishing affect the sale of a novel. To put it succinctly, it is a reality check and a cure for pie in the sky dreaming. I am now a cured and clean vessel because of this experience and I may do it again in the future, my primary focus is the traditional route.
There is no substitute for having a known press backing your work. None. I need the marketing and promotion they provide for my book or it won't reach the number of people it needs to. I have another novel in progress as well as a volume of short stories partially completed and when time comes I will probably query for those as well. Basically, I will query/pester agents until I'm so old I pass away at my desk and they have to pry my hands off the laptop in order to cart me off to a nearby bone yard where I still won't rest in peace however because I didn't get an agent.
>Why do I hope to be traditionally published? I want the validation from trained professionals that what I write is good and that readers will think so, too.
>Wow, some really great responses out there. And I agree with the validation factor of traditional publishing. Sorry, I'm going to call it traditional because publishing houses have been around for a long, long time, and that's traditional in my book.
And I think validation goes a lot farther than vanity, or lack of self worth. It has to do with readers because, after all, that's who we write for. Otherwise, its basically just journaling. I don't think I would pick up a Jane Austen novel and look at it with quite the same reverence if I knew she had paid someone to publish it for her. Knowing the blood, sweat and tears that she endured to get that published when her surrounding culture was saying "not likely" makes the read so much sweeter. It's victory.
>For the smell of the binding. The feel of the paper. The imprint of a real, live publishing house on the spine. For the knowledge that without the agent and editor(s) my book wouldn't be half as good. For the thrust of traditional marketing that may someday land my book in the hands of someone who otherwise would never have picked it up, and whose heart may be touched forever because of it.
That's why. 🙂
>I refuse to go the self-publishing route, because if I'm not good enough to be accepted by traditional publishers yet, I'd rather keep working on developing my skills than fool myself into thinking that I know better than an entire industry of professionals!
>I want to work with a fabulous editor! Also, I do not want to be the only party interested in marketing my book.
>Simply put, I want a strong, able team to help me get my book to market. I am only the "gifted" writer. It takes a village.
>I learned so many things when I pursued traditional publishing over the last ten years. I don't think I would be the writer I am today if I hadn't tried. I learned to write 25-word log lines, short and long queries/back cover blurbs, short and long synopsis, and how to edit my writing (with the help of writer friends, CP's and beta readers). I became a better writer . . .
BUT I decided to self-publish my middle grade story.
Why? Editors and agents simply weren't interested. Most thought it had 'potential' (std query rejection lingo), but it wasn't post-apocalyptic, vampire, "boy", (insert current 'must have') book.
My previous books (5 of them) were practice books. THIS book spoke to me. I HAD TO GET THIS STORY TO READERS.
Electronically self-publishing has its drawbacks when trying to sell to the younger market, and I believe I'm slightly ahead of the curve. Technology is advancing rapidly and so many kids have various electronic devices, so it's only a matter of time.
My local paper (500+ K distribution) featured me in an article about the emerging publishing technology, but I was more excited when a young 11-year old boy REVIEWED my book.
Why? This was my target audience, plus it was a boy reviewer to boot, since my MC is a girl.
Am I making money at this? No, not yet. I paid for my cover art and I'm giving away more books than I'm selling. What I hope to gain is readership, since I have five more books finished and will be releasing them throughout the rest of 2011.
I'm in it for the long haul. Very few writers are overnight successes and those that are have been working hard at their craft for years.
Is print publishing dead? I don't think so. I do think publishers need to rethink how they do business though.
Should everyone self-publish? NO! It's not about 'paying your dues' so much as 'learning your craft'. Most first books written are dreck, I know mine were–heck, even my current first drafts are dreck! It takes time and a million words to learn to craft a good story. Anyone on the street can write a novel, but telling a story is a whole 'nuther pony trick.
M. A. Golla
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because most of the self-published books I've seen are not well-written or edited.
I attended a Get-Your-Book-In-Print seminar a while back about self-publishing and all of the examples looked hastily-produced and mediocre. The conference director was pretty much selling copies of her book from the trunk of her car.
And I'm sure that without a traditional publisher – and real editors and marketers – to back me, my book will end up the same way. The message is so important to me that I'm willing to wait for a publisher who feels the same way.
>Off the top of my head (or heart, as it were):
2. Confirmation that my book is good BEFORE it goes to readers, because if a bad book with my name on it goes out, my future works will have a harder time.
3. The thought of doing it all myself is overwhelming. Even hiring out the parts I know I can't do, like cover art.
4. I'm currently being pounded on what seems like all sides to self e-pub, which makes me more resistant and, frankly, angry.
Looking back at those, I'd say #3 is the main reason, and #4 a distant 2nd.
>I don't think I can answer this the way I'd originally intended without offending someone. I am a huge supporter of the traditional publishing route, even after all the rejections I've received thus far. In fact, it may even be *because* of the rejections, and the feedback some agents were so graciously willing to give. Let's just leave it at that.
>I believe there is a time and place for self-publishing but in all honesty..I am pursuing the *traditional* means because I believe in going back to basics to build a foundation THEN you use other means AFTER the foundation is established. That goes for anything in my life, not just my writing.
There are definite reasons for all the steps in traditional publishing and I feel I need to follow those steps BEFORE I can pursue other means.
>For me it’s a matter of achieving a personal goal. As a child I dreamed of writing a book and having it published, and I’ll be disappointed in myself if I don’t accomplish that. Doing it all myself, though, isn’t part of that dream—I want guidance on legal matters, cover design, and marketing. I want the thrill of telling my family I have an agent, and I want the peace of mind that comes from working with a respected publisher.
>Traditional publishing still has something to offer, a wider distribution than I get with self-publishing. However, that does not mean I will not pursue self-publishing until and unless a traditional contract is offered. Any contract would have to offer me more value than I can get with self-publishing, and it would be nice to get the kind of recognition that one still finds with traditional publishing. It's not all about money.
For me, it's about creative freedom and getting my name out there. I can have both by self-publishing and pursuing traditional publishing.
>Traditionally publishing says not only do I think I have a well written book, but so does the "establishment." They think it will appeal to the masses.
I also like having someone with experience to lead me, tell me what to do, and when to do it. I like the support system.
Great post to get us thinking this Friday.
>Wow, Rachelle, you've gotten a lot of comments already today. And I didn't read a single one, b/c I wanted to comment w/o being influenced by others. The absolute first answer that popped into my head was this:
I CAN'T DO THIS ALONE. AND AT THIS POINT IN MY LIFE, I DON'T WANT TO.
>Several years ago, my husband and I self-published a gift book for daddies, called I Can't Wait to Meet My Daddy. A hardcover glossy with dust jacket. (We didn't mind the investment.) It's doing great but took a GIANT effort in getting it distributed. It took years to get it into stores. We went through all the right channels–B&T, B&N, Amazon, etc.– and yet it was a frustrating challenge.
I come from traditional publishing, as I was once an editor, so I know that for the big guys it merely takes a phone call to place the book in stores all over the country. And there's a team that puts together the catalogs, writes the copies, sells the books to major distributors, books the book tour and so on.
For the book I'm working on now, I would be more than happy to hand over the responsiblities of design, printing, binding, and especially distribution to a traditional trade publisher.
>I want to be traditionally published because while I'm willing to work hard I don't want to go it alone. I'd like to have that "stamp of approval" from a traditional publisher as well as the marketing and distribution. Although there have been a few big successes with self-publishing, I think self-pubbed authors are going to have a much harder time being taken seriously by readers, reviewers, etc.
>I'm sure this has been mentioned, but I want to be traditionally published because I'd rather have a team of people helping me with my book than just li'l ol' me. I think by wearing the name of a well known house opens doors that self-pub can't. I want to be pushed to be my best, not settle because I can. Because, as a homeowner, sometimes DYI just isn't worth it.
>I'm sticking with traditional publishing for now because I'd like to learn from the pros. But, I've noticed a shift. Many agents are less responsive. I used to get a mix of form and helpful rejections dotted with requests for fulls or partials. Now, many agents don't respond at all. Sorry, but that's just rude. I know agents are flooded, but becoming a locked gate rather than the gatekeeper will only drive writers to the path of least resistance, self publishing. That means many books will never reach full potential and that is a shame.
>I hope to traditionally publish one day because that is where my audience resides. I am sure some of my readers own an e-reader (I do) but the bulk of them still buy books in paper form.
I also don't want to travel the road alone. I want an agent who can see the bigger picture, while I am deeply involved in the next book. I want an editor who can take my book to the next level. And ideally, I would want a publishing house who believes in me.
I wouldn't be a good writer without my beta readers and mentors. I consider the traditional publishing route as part of that team that elevates my work and others.
>It's all about the libraries for me. I write MG, and I want my kids (and their friends)to be able to check out my books from their school libraries.
Oh, and the advance checks aren't bad, either. 😉
>Professional agents and editors can help me improve more. I want to share my books with a wide audience, and I want them to be as strong as possible when they do that.
For me, writing is NOT a solitary pursuit. It takes a village– I mean a publishing house to help my little book grow up into something I hope many people will love and appreciate.
>I'm still a "wanna be", but I'm working hard to hook an agent because I still feel that's what will bring me validation. Plus, I don't know all the ins and outs of this business and it would be nice to have someone on my team who could direct me when needed.
>It’s primarily about trust and teamwork for me.
And I hate math.
>I self-published my first book and made all the classic mistakes with it. I want to go the traditional route this time because I learned a lot of lessons (helpful to either approach), because the traditional path still offers the largest network of personal contacts, and because this path still holds a lot of weight/clout as a recognizable achievement that few people attain. That latter distinction still means a lot in the publishing world. The self-pub world is becoming too much a "me too" path. I want my work to stand out.
>One, because I lack the ability to do two things at once (ie: write a novel AND market it). If I self-pubbed, I'd need the resources to hire someone to do that part for me, and I am too broke to do that currently. 🙂
Two, because I have no problem pushing my work to the best level it can possibly reach, and that's what you have to do in order to be successful in trad pub. I like the challenge.
>I am pursuing traditional publishing because it is more professional and I want someone with knowledge in the business to promote my work. If a traditional publisher accepts my MS, then I will know that it is marketable.
>Whether a teen waiting to be asked to the Prom or a forty-something waiting to get the nod for CEO, we all glory in the approbation of our peers. Having a publisher select one’s manuscript and be willing to stake its reputation and finances is similar. Especially now that self-publishing is so easy and inexpensive, the publisher’s imprimatur has special meaning. One is selected, not because it is easy to do so, but because one is deemed worthy.
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because it just seems more professional. Traditional publishing would confirm all the hard work I have done.
>I chose to go with the traditional publishing route because I knew my limited knowledge of the industry would never lead itself to a well-done self-published book. I didn't have the marketing, design and editing skills to pull it off.
>I've been offered help to self-publish by two friends at my writing groups. They both have their own publishing companies. They have seen my book win awards and competitions and so encourage me to go down this path.
Personally, I want my book to sit on a book shop shelf, because professionals have confirmed that my novel is worthy to sit there; to have been accepted as publishable by the traditional method of finding an agent and publisher.
I'm delighted to be represented by literary agent Juliet Burton who approached me in January this year. Now I have another wait to find out if a publisher also wants to represent Lies and Linguine, but I think it's worth the wait and angst!
>Personally, I'm going the traditional route because I want an advocate on my side. If I go through a literary agent (my biggest hope) or eventually get an editor, I'll know that they chose my book BECAUSE they love it. I'll know they see something worth fighting for within the pages. If I do self-pub, then yes, I see merit in it but will anyone else? Plus, with the literary agent I hope to acquire, they are a sounding board and a friend to help me through the publishing process – and as a college student, I know I'll need all the help I can get. So…traditional publishing all the way!!!
>It is interesting to me that so many people have begun to equate self-publishing with eBooks. I’m sure that’s because many people haven’t given self-publishing enough consideration to know what it really is, so I suppose we can forgive them that. But in a discussion like this, it makes for some interesting answers. The advantage of traditional over self isn’t that traditional produces a physical book and self doesn’t or even that the author will spend less money when going the traditional route, because that is often not the case. Or even that traditional offers validation that self does not because there are some traditionally published books that only five people in the world think are good and they all work for the publisher.
The things I see that traditional publishing offers that self-publishing does not is that once the book is traditionally published the book is on a much shorter list of books being considered for placement in bookstores. Reviewers are more likely to welcome free copies for review on their blogs. The title of the book may appear in the back of other books available from the publisher. Someone other than the author is telling people they should consider reading the book. Those are the things that self-publishing has a hard time overcoming.
>I want traditional publishing because I want the benefit of years of experience and knowledge behind my work. I've seen friends self-publish and they haven't polished their work. I want mine the best I can get it to be and that comes with people who know what they are doing.
>I’ve got to admit that after reading some of your recent posts, I couldn’t see a compelling reason why anyone would want to be involved with traditional publishing. The thing that would make me want to get involved with traditional publishing is if that it would free me to focus on what I’m good at and let others handle the other things. It is really hard to keep that attitude when we read so much about the publishing industry that says that isn’t happening.
>I hope to continue to be traditionally published because:
1. I need an editor
2. I need a marketing expert
3. I need the affirmation of my work
4. I love being one of a team
5. I need sales people
6. I need a lot more brain power than just mine in the whole book creation process
Guess I'm just a very needy person. (And these are also the reasons I love to work with an agent!)
>I want to peacefully pursue traditional, commercial publishing.
I know I am a good writer. But good writing is not good enough. I want my books to be excellent. With the help of a good agent, and publisher who gets my work, we can all shine. And give more glory to God.
>Oh – and also, I want to work with a team of professionals on my book and I don't want to have to pay them all in order to do it.
>Part of it is affirmation. Part of it is wanting my books to be available in places like Barnes and Noble. Part of it is my competitive nature – anyone can self-publish, not anyone can get a deal with a traditional publisher. Maybe not the most noble reasons….but there they are.
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because I trust its process the most.
>I am within two weeks of holding my self-published book in my hands. The company I am working with is a print-on demand publisher and offers access to all markets. My book will be available in three formats–hardback, paperback, and e-book. I have been more than pleased with the work this company has done, and if the physical book is as nice as the electronic files are, my book will be beautiful. I have had complete artistic control, I own all rights, and the whole process has taken less than four months. By the way, I've been writing for twenty years and am an English teacher.
My book is about God's absolute love and is far enough away from traditional theology that I believe agents and publishers probably would have rejected it. And to add to that, I don't have the requisite degrees after my name to take on a theological discussion, so I'm not qualified to write a book like mine. Oh, well, we'll see what happens.
>Self-publishing for e-readers has been very lucrative for a small a small group of authors in the last few months. However, for the vast majority of authors trying to sell books, self-publishing won't bring much exposure and it won't earn them much money.
The case-studies for self-publishing success are J.A. Konrath and Amanda Hocking. These two authors have been very good at self-promotion and their books are better than virtually all their self-published competition. These authors distinguish themselves from commercially-published authors on the basis of price; their books cost $3 or less.
Amazon pays a 70% royalty to authors who self-publish on Kindle and sell their books for between $2.99 and $9.99. By contrast, a hardcover royalty is usually 10-15% of the cover price and a mass-market royalty is usually 6-8% of the cover price. That means a royalty on a $3 e-book is close to the same as an author earns selling a $15 hardcover (which has a $25 cover price).
$2.99 was a great opportunity when very few people were selling books in that price range. This high royalty made it very easy for self-published authors to undercut the price of commercially-published books, because these authors were able to keep a much larger percentage of their readers' money. This arrangement was also very beneficial for Amazon and BN because it attracted a huge cadre of value-conscious consumers to e-reader platforms. However, Amanda Hocking's success story is now common knowledge, and everyone with an unpublished novel believes they can replicate that success.
These authors don't have the imprimatur of New York publishers. They don't have authoritative praise from critics or famous authors. They don't even have professionally-designed book covers. So they use price to compete.
That means it's very hard for an unknown self-published author to price a book at $2.99 right now; most other self-published books that are ranked high in Kindle sales are priced at $0.99. But if you sell a book at $0.99, you get only a 30% royalty, or 33 cents per copy. It's very difficult to earn a substantial amount of money at that price, with that royalty, and the 70% royalty is no longer the game changer it seemed to be six months ago because most authors can't earn it.
E-book growth has been huge in the past few years, but we shouldn't overstate its market-share. For a published author, bookstores are still roughly 70% of the market, and e-books are only about half of online sales.
That means that, while a $.99 cent self-published John Locke title may be selling as many e-books as the new Michael Connelly, the Connelly book is selling the same number in hardcover as it is in e-books on Amazon. And brick and mortar bookstores represent nearly triple the total online sales.
Meanwhile, the attractive 70% royalty rate doesn't benefit Locke, because that rate only applies to books priced between $2.99 and $9.99. An author of a bestselling hardcover like Connelly makes ten times Locke's per-copy royalty, and sells five times as many copies.
Locke claims he sells an e-book every ten seconds. If that's true, he'll sell about three million copies in a year and he'll earn a million dollars. That's ten times as many copies as a commercially published author has to sell to make the same money.
Nearly everyone who can publish with a commercial publisher goes that route, especially in fiction. And there are good reasons why this is the case.
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because there are no guarantees. And somehow, that makes the journey a bit sweeter for me. It makes me pull from a deeper place within myself. I just realized this when you asked the question. Maybe that makes me like those folks on American Idol.
But for the record, I can't sing. 🙂
>There are a lot of reasons, first of which is time. Yes, I know that even in print publishing authors are expected to do a lot of the marketing, but a publisher and agent aid in navigating the rest of the process. Book covers, editorial process, and even a little bit of marketing are done via team effort with the author, meaning I don't have to spend as much time arranging all of that on my own. I don't have to hire a graphic artist for a cover. I don't have to locate an editor that I can work with.
That's not my primary reason, though. I consider myself a smart guy, a very smart guy. I can pick up numerous disciplines both technical and academic, but the publishing world is very confusing. I don't really get it, and in order to become skilled in that world would take a lot of time and failure. I want to give my writing the best possible chance to succeed, and that means going with the experts. Agents and publishers know what they're about, and I would be foolish to think that I can pick up the nuances of the industry by simply self-publishing. While blogging, tweeting, and other social networks of the day have given a good amount of transparency to the publishing industry, there are still facets that are unrevealed to the public. Those are the areas I believe are most important to the success of a book.
Lastly, faith. I believe that the publishing industry evolved the way it has for a reason: it works. There are so many factors to consider when it comes to publishing, it's simply too complex a system to believe that self-publishing can be panacea and elevate all authors to bestseller status.
>Hey! My blog readers and I just talked about this!
My answer (from the post):
I'm still aiming at traditional publishing because it's not (strictly) about chance, and I believe I can do it. Because I wouldn't be the writer I am today if I had self-published the first thing I wrote, and I want to see how much better I'll be in the future. Because I'd rather hold the novel for some point in the future when I can make it better, than make a couple hundred dollars today.
But that's today. Who knows what the future holds?
>Self-publishing? Writing is edits, edits, edits, and how far would a narcissist like me get if I only had to answer to myself?
Traditional book vs. E-books? No contest! You can find a world between the pages of a book. With an E-book it's just not the same.
>I am pursuing traditional publishing because I need all the help I can get. I think I am a good writer (but I would say that) but the rest – the editing, the marketing, the contract negotiations… Oy. Don't get me wrong, I am trying to learn it all, but it helps to have a few people help me along the way.
I am an ordinary, unknown girl from Australia. My agent is an intelligent, well-respected and amazingly connected professional in New York city. Without her I'd still be printing copies of my first novel for my Mum's book club to read.
Thank God for agents and publishers. They make us look good.
>From the heart, I long for my traditionally published book. I dream of the day I walk into a bookstore and hold it. However, the bookstores from my dreams have both closed their doors. There is still one I frequent that seems stable for now. And I do have it in me to wait patiently for the traditionally published method to come to fruition, but in the meantime it would be great to have a real reader or two, something or someone to pass the time between point A and point B.
Is everyone going to make money in self-publishing? No. Is everyone going to make money in the traditionally published marketplace? No. I think at the end of the day this is about what it's always been about, connecting with readers. In the old model you had the biggest distribution possible through the big six because they could launch your novel all over the states and the world for that matter– the internet does the same thing.
The only thing standing between a writer and his/her potential readers is brilliant marketing, or a miracle, either or.
It's been surreal watching my friends self-publish left and right (and most of those were in the last month alone)! Some of my blog followers are openly announcing they're no longer looking for agents. It's a scary new literary world.
I'm prolific. I love to dream up new ideas. I'm already a decade ahead if my publisher allows me to print one novel a year. And that's if I had a publisher, that alone can tack on a timeframe all its own. That's a hard pill to swallow, but the ultimate trophy in my eyes is traditional publishing.
And on a lighter note, I miss the days of writing for my friends in school and having their immediate feedback. I felt so much more like a 'real' writer back then. It's so hollow in this space between here and publication.
I suppose writers will do what they've always done, write.
>Although I'm delighted my first novel (historical romance) is coming out in May with a small Canadian publisher, I'm seeking a mainstream traditional publisher for my other books. And an agent. I want the validation of my work being good enough, and to see my books on shelves, as well as on e-readers.
I'm doing lots of promotion at the moment and have a great cover from the publisher's artists, but I won't be able to walk into a store and see my book! And that's what I've always dreamed of for years.
>I didn't seek to self publish but I got caught in a publishing scam with Publish America. When they said "Traditional Publisher" I thought that meant that they were a publisher like any other. I thought Traditional meant that they followed the standards and practices as other publishing houses. Boy was I wrong! These people prey on people like I was, that were excited to write something and believe in it with their whole hearts, and were "green" about publishing. There should be laws-which there aren't! These places are parasites to the publishing world! I'm not downing anyone for self-publishing their books but these "traditional publishers" I have a problem with. They don't pay their authors-instead they suck money out of them with lures of book expos and having big time authors endorse their books with the dream of making it big in the book world.
>Maybe I'm simply old-school 🙂 but I like traditional publishing!
>I am waiting while my agent shops my MS, and every month that goes on I wonder if I'm on the right track persuing this–but it's my first, best choice for my books to get the best possible accessibility and visibility.
I will self pub if they aren't picked up, but it's by far my second choice. I want my books in stores,in stands in airports, AND on little handheld devices!
>Because as a self-published author, either you are limited to ebooks (which are still only a minor fraction of sales) or you have to pay a lot of money up front – on editing and professional-quality cover art – to produce an attractive print version which you probably won't be able to get into the bookshops anyway. You can do it on the cheap, of course, but the end result will not be pretty…
My publisher takes all of that financial risk and will be selling my books into bricks'n'mortar stores across the US and UK, whilst paying me a not insubstantial sum before the book is even out. Meanwhile I can get on with writing the sequel!
Self-publishing success requires an enormous amount of time and effort put into marketing, and that's on top of the normal self-promotion (blogging, tweeting, etc) that even commercially-published authors have to do these days. I admire those who make a go of it, but it's not for me.
>I pursued traditional publishing because:
1) I want a traditional publishing house behind me lending me credibility as an author.
2) I want my book professionally edited.
3) I want a cover designed by a team of experts who know what will help a book sell.
4) I'm not a marketing whiz and want a publisher's promo pros getting my book into stores across the country.
5) I want my mom to be able to walk into her local bookstore and see my book on the shelf.
6) I want to walk into my local bookstore and see my book on the shelf. =)
>i'm pursuing traditional publishing because i want to, in some way, compare myself to the famous authors of our time and feel great that i made it too ~
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing for several reasons. Regardless of the growing popularity of ebooks, I still want to see my book in hardback/paperback form in real bookstores. I also want to be able to focus more on writing, so I would prefer that the professionals deal with producing the book and marketing it (though I understand the growing role of authors in the marketing portion). Lastly, I am still relatively new as a fiction writer, and though I believe I am talented, I know I still need the help that a professional editor can give me. I don't want to self-publish if it means a second-rate quality job.
>I definitely want to pursue the traditional route when my ms is ready! I want professionals to tell me that they love my work and think it's saleable. I want to work with people who know the industry and can help me make sure I'm putting my best foot forward. And, I know that authors always talk about how anti-climatic having a book published actually is, but I still think it's pretty exciting.
>I'm going the traditional route because I don't want to have to deal with cover art, hiring an editor, and convincing stores to stock my book.
And I want my book to be awesome, and I recognize that no matter how much I read books and study craft, most editors have probably read more books and studied craft longer. They DO know how to make my work better than I can make it on my own.
>My first novel, The Covering, will be out soon with White Rose Publishing. I took the traditional publishing route for several reasons. Here they are in no particular order.
* It’s how I always saw myself doing it.
* I need to be pushed in some areas and pulled in others. I’m not a great self-motivator and I do much better when coaxed.
* I need an editor and there’s no edit fee with a traditional publisher, lol. If there is you might want to see just what you’ve gotten into.
* Self-published (SP) books usually (not always) aren’t as well written as those going through a traditional publisher. In SP there’s too much room for “No, I’m right,” “It’s great the way it is,” etc. That’s not to say all SP is bad. There is some truly wonderful stuff out there. I may do it myself one day, who knows? But like it or not, the prejudice exists that if you’re SP, you have too much ego and not enough talent.
* Because of those prejudices I might not be given a fair read or taken seriously.
* I have no clue how to format my own stuff, buy cover art, etc and frankly I don’t have the patience to learn. I’d rather spend my time enjoying my passion – writing.
>I want the editorial support and accountability that comes from traditional publishing.
And self-publishing to me will always have the stigma of attracting even crappier writers than those who are published through the traditional route.
I'd rather fail at trying to be traditionally published than have a self-published novel.
>3-second answer: I want to pursue traditional publication because I'm a lazy introvert. I don't do self-promotion. I'm uneasy with strangers.
Longer answer: you can get anything and everything off the internet nowadays, even surgical equipment. Search YouTube for a surgical procedure and you can do it yourself! Question is, will people come to you for help?
For the moment, it's the same with the publishing world. Physical books are still in demand, and major bookstores are still filled with customers. People (like me) still love the scent of books, the texture of paper.
True, some bestsellers should not have been released in the first place ("The Lost Symbol", anyone?). But I still much prefer to pick up a book with a beautiful cover, an intriguing opening, and an interesting page 69 sneak peek.
Validation. More than anything, there's something satisfying about getting an acceptance letter, especially from a tough professional market. I'm a published short story writer (plus an unfinished novel or three), and waking up to an acceptance waiting in my inbox is awesome. It tells me I'm not really as sucky as I thought, while waiting for the editor's reply.
I trust editors and publishers to know what they're doing. And I hope one day I'll get an agent who's as enthusiastic about my work as I am.
>Traditional publishing offers a professional level of support for authors. I want to do more than publish a book; I want a career in writing, and I know I'll need the guidance of a good agent, the skills of experienced editors and quality publishers to help me accomplish that.
>Thank you for pointing out that publishing isn't dying. I think there is a threat to publishing, but I also know there are some smart people at the helm who will manage to figure things out, or at least salvage something from the disaster if they don't.
In college I'm a business major and seeing the publishing companies make highly strategic maneuvers in this rough time is very interesting.
I'm happy to see as many paths to 'published' as the market can handle. Big houses and small houses all have their purposes.
As for me, I'm definitely of the entrepreneurial persuasion and will not likely be taking traditional publishing myself, but don't demonize it the same way some of my peers do.
>I love my agent and my editor and there's no way I could write the books I do without them.
>I am pursuing the traditional route because I think it gives my book and future books the best chance to be best books they can. I have critique partners who help me polish my work but I'd like the chance to Work with a professional agent and then editor to make sure I'm putting out the best work I can.
I think self publishing can be a great alternative for many. And I can't say I haven't considered it seeing that others can have success at it but I'd really like the chance to try the traditional route.
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because I didn't dream about being self-published as a kid.
On another note, I recently downloaded a self-pubbed eBook by a well-established, respected author. It is so full of errors and inconsistencies I didn't make it past chapter three.
>I'm pursuing commercial publishing (self-publishing is traditional, too), because
1) I don't want to do every job the publisher does (editing, cover art, marketing, distribution, publicity, etc.) plus my own (writing). Most self-pubbed titles, regardless of the quality of the writing, have absolutely horrid covers. I don't trust my ability to create a good cover, and I'd rather not shell out the hundreds to hire a good artist.
2) I want to know when I'm selling my product to a buying public that it's had some level of gatekeeping to make sure it's worth readers paying money for
3) I want to know I'm good enough to publish. Anyone with a credit card can self-pub, and in the vast majority of cases, it shows. I'd rather be shelved next to Dan Brown or Stephenie Meyer, who are generally considered poor writers but at least made it through the gatekeepers, than have my book "shelved" (in the figurative sense since a literal shelving isn't likely to happen) next to the majority of self-pubbed titles that's out there.
4) I don't read self-pubbed titles.
>I should proofread my comments more thoroughly in the future…
>Once I finally finish my novel, I'm hoping to pursue traditional publishing because of the inherent affirmation, if it is publihed, that somebody thinks the work is good enough for publication. I also want a professional's opinion on my work, plus the wider distribution traditional publishers provide, particularly in bookstores, as print books are still alive and well. I also like the idea of having an agent to help me through the complex world of publishing.
>For me, the more the merrier! There is nothing more that gets my creative juices going than collaboration. I've always imagined the traditional publishing route to be a group of people moving towards a common goal.
That traditional agent who gets the traditional publisher to invest in a traditional editor and traditional printer – you know it's not about "traditional". It's about team work. It's about allowing others to be a part of something they feel is greater than them.
That feeling of excitement and buzz when you've got a team that believes in you is what I want. If you label it as sliced cheese, I'd want to be a sliced cheese author.
Wow, really went into left field with that…
>As a self published author, I know the trials and travails of the craft. You actually become the publisher and quickly learn about pagination, typology, and graphic arts. If you have the time and patience to learn the process, you can produce a reasonable product at a modest price. However, getting this book distributed to book stores and other outlets is daunting at best.
That's why I'm looking into the traditional publishing arena to develop credibility and validation. I know it won't be easy, but I think it will be worth the effort.
>I'd say it should stay with traditional with all the spelling errors today… it is needed. there are also many that take words out of context and their grammer 'like mine' sucks lol Traditional NEEDS TO STAY
>I intend to pursue traditional publishing for my first novel next year. As a fiction writer with sights set on a writing career, I want the legitimacy of acceptance into the traditional publishing industry. I want my name on a spine in a bookstore. (And I will have it. Oh, yes.) Until that happens, I won't feel I've "arrived" as a writer.
>Several reasons. I enjoy the interaction with the publishing industry and community as a whole. I enjoy agents and editors and believe they provide valuable services for authors.
I do not believe every writer is cut out for self-publishing, and both sides have their pros and cons. Traditional publishing is, in many ways, the avenue through which I've discovered the majority of authors that I love and admire. And there are also many publishers that I have long dreamt of being published through.
>For me, it’s a personality thing. I work best under direction. I think that traditional publishing would keep me focused and on schedule.
This is not to say that I’m not a self-starter. However, I do my best work when an editor is hanging a deadline over my head or telling me in great specificity what needs to be revised. I know myself very well, and I don’t think that I could organize everything needed to self-publish – procure an editor, find cover art, locate an eBook coder, etc. It all sounds exciting, but I tend to lose momentum whenever I plan a huge “project,” be it someone’s engagement party or my spring cleaning. I have grave doubts, should I decide to self-publish, that it would ever get done without anyone riding my behind. ☺
That said, I still am concerned about the direction publishing is taking. I’ve heard so many conflicting arguments of what will/will not happen. It’s difficult to know who to believe these days. I see a lot of flaws in arguments made by the successfully self-published who need not be named, because we all know who they are by now. All a writer can do is plot his or her course and see where the future takes us.
>I’m pursuing traditional publishing for the legitimacy that it would give me and my book. I believe in standards.
>Easy; I want to pursue traditional publishing for a few reasons:
1) I'm a writer and selling T-shirts on my blog can be overwhelming at times. I don't want to be making daily trips to the post office to mail books out. And I definitely don't want to stock them myself.
2) From what I've seen, the more you employ someone else to offer traditional publisher services (such as stocking and shipping) the more the economic advantage is eliminated.
3) I want maximum exposure to potential readers. I'm not a YA writer, so it's hard for me to depend on the Interwebs to do all the promotion I need. I want to be on bookshelves in bookstores and appropriate specialty retailers.
4) Finally, I am confident that I'm a capable writer, but having worked with stellar editors, I want to deliver to readers the best book I can and the best editors I've encountered are employed; I'd like access to their talents.
>I want to pursue traditional publishing because I don't just want to be published, I want to be published well.
>I read here regularly, but I don't know that I've commented before…
I agree with both of the previous commenters. The… validation, for lack of a better term, from professionals in the industry. The stamp of approval from people who have given that same stamp to others I respect – a Julie Lessman or Ruth Logan Herne or Dr. Richard Mabry or Mary Connealy or Deeanne Gist or… insert name of favorite author here.
Because it means that agent or that editor sees something in me that says 'this gal is worth taking a risk on; she's got talent'.
Why not self-pub? I might. Someday. After I've exhausted every avenue possible for traditional publication. After I've not even semi'd in Genesis for lotsa years [oy – the semis are announced today :p]. After I've had a bunch of Simon Cowell types tell me that I shouldn't quit my day job. Then maybe.
But I also know that I don't know how how to format a book. Or how to promote. I could do it – with guidance – but I'm not a marketing guru. The reputation of self-pubbed authors exists for a reason, though there are exceptions such as Amanda Hocking. I know it's much harder – for instance – to get into bookstores with a small but traditional publisher but nearly impossible as a self-pub. And while more and more books are being bought outside of brick and mortar stores, they can't be completely discounted either.
I hope that made sense. It's late. My 3yo was up till midnight last night and I should so be in bed. But I also know I'll end up staring at the wall for hours so… =D
Thanks for all the info you give out, Ms. Gardner. It is much appreciated by those of us who lurk ;).
>Maybe I'm just too old school, but to me, traditional publishing is an acknowledgment that you have actually crafted something worth reading. Who else is going to tell me that my book is ready for the general public?
Following the self-publishing jihad, when I had good request rates from my query, but nothing great from those requests, I should have just published it myself.
Instead, I went back to the drawing board, tried to find out what I wasn't seeing, and revised yet again. I think in the end I'll have the best book I can, even if it never does see the light of day.
I believe there are professionals for a reason. I wouldn't do my own plumbing, and I have no desire to do my own publishing.
>I like making sure that I have an editor looking over my work, challenging me to make it even better. I also think there are some things in self-publishing I wouldn't be able to handle on my own, like book covers for example. Traditional publishing still seems a viable way for me to go.
>I've done both, and think there's solid reasons for either avenue. Traditional publishing brings credibility, distribution, and promotion that self-publishing doesn't. You'll notice that the vast majority of self-publishing advocates have already built their platforms through traditional publishing. I self-publish certain niche titles, but use traditional publishing for wider material. Being exclusive only limits your options…
>I want the chance at wider print distribution than what I'd be able achieve on my own, professional cover art and design (that I wouldn't be able to afford on my own), to work with an experienced editor (again, that I wouldn't be able to afford on my own), and whatever marketing support the house will offer, even if it's not much.
The heft of the publishing house name–whatever it might be–would also help sell books on its own, and that appeals to me.
In an ideal world, the awards for which I'd like to be eligible (one day!) and the memberships I'd like to have–SFWA, for example–will be much easier to achieve via traditional publishing.
While I support my friends and peers who choose to self-publish, I still feel the traditional route will offer me the best opportunity to meet my goals.
>I am going the traditional route because I prefer having a real book not a digital copy. I like the way they feel and even smell. Besides once you been published traditionally you know you've accomplished something big. At least that's how I see it. And until they can come up with digital signing what good is a digital copy at a book signing?
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because I still don't respect the self-pub industry. The books aren't written well. The covers are usually eye-sores. It's not PC to say, but the work is amateur, and you can tell.
>I'm pursuing traditional publishing because I want the affirmation from publishing professionals that my novel is good.