Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Traditional Publish = Vanity Publishing

I'll be signing in the Sandy Costco the following days:

Monday, September 10, 2012 from 12:00 to 4:00pm
Monday, September 24, 2012 from 12:00 to 4:00pm

Click the link above to get the address. We wanted more days, but September is a very busy month for Costco, and they're working with several companies to get authors in for signings.

Can't wait to see you there!

On to the topic for today's blog post.

I read an interview a while back of an author who said she considered traditional publishing to be vanity publishing. "Oh? You're with such and such publisher (or are self-published)? Well, I'm with this publisher."

I can't remember who the author was or where I found the interview, but the idea really stayed with me, and I truly believe she was right in many, if not most, cases. Now the Huffington Post has made the same statement, (the title of their post is "The New Vanity Publishing: Traditional Publishing") and authors are reacting. (In this article, one person gives several reasons why the statement is true. Read it. It's short and good. Then come back. :-))

I understand why authors would want or need a traditional publisher - not everyone is cut out for self-publishing. But, as the author of the article, Bernard Starr, says, "When you go the traditional-publishing route, you may well find yourself self-publishing without the benefits of self-publishing." Read the article to see what he's talking about.

So, what are the benefits of self-publishing? Here's one: sales. So many traditionally published authors don't get many sales. Another benefit? Real-time reporting on those sales. Most of my author friends will never know how many books they sold. They have to trust that their publisher is reporting things correctly. Another benefit: excellent royalties (30-80% royalties versus the 5-17% in traditional publishing). And so, so many others. It constantly amazes me when people turn away from these things. They say, "Only 1% of self-published authors ever go really big. I've got a better chance in traditional publishing." But if you pay attention to the most recent traditionally published bestsellers, you'll find that the majority of them got started - made a name for themselves - in self-publishing.

Traditional publishers focus on a book for only a short time, then drop it completely, moving on to new authors. Many times, the book hasn't had the chance it deserves to grow in popularity before it is removed from shelves, and any backing the publisher gave it shifts to the next author's book. The book is considered a flop and is permanently on a writer's record. Many authors have to use a pen name to avoid being recognized for having a book that failed. In self-publishing, this doesn't happen. Authors recognize the length of time it often takes for a book to be cultivated into a bestseller, and they're willing to wait for it to happen.

Mr. Starr says, "First-time authors and those struggling to find a publisher should seriously consider self-publishing," and "self-publishing does not close the door on traditional publishing."

He talks about how self-published authors are being hand-selected by traditional publishers, given huge advances, and have actual marketing plans written up and put in place.

As Penguin CEO John Makinson said: "Self-publishing has moved into the mainstream of our industry."

It's a no brainer to me. Find a traditional publisher (if that's your goal) by self-publishing. Make a name for yourself that traditional publishers won't be able to ignore. And get paid while you're doing it. You may find yourself so content in that position, you won't want to sign the contract when the time comes.

In the News:

Is self-publishing the lazy way out?
"Bestselling American crime novelist Sue Grafton has back-pedaled on her description of self-published authors as 'too lazy to do the hard work' following disbelief and anger from the independently published community." Read more of the Guardian article here. (I appreciate Sue Grafton's response to the outcry.)

Beware the companies that want to help you self-publish!
"As with any case where something hard for one person is easy for someone else, businesses have sprung up to take advantage of that in return for a cut of the royalties." (Read more here. Seriously, be incredibly wary of any company that wants to help you self-publish.)

Publishing Is Broken, We're Drowning In Indie Books - And That's A Good Thing
Okay, I can't give a good enough summary for this article - there are too many excellent points. It's fairly long, but incredibly good, and will be well worth your time.


  1. Great post! It seems like the general consensus is that self-publishing is somehow easier than working with a traditional publisher, and I think it can be easy. Doing it successfully, however, is anything but.

    Publishers take care of everything from editing to printing, shipping, distribution, marketing, handling legal matters, signings and sales. When you self-publish a book, you accept the responsibility of all of these issues. Try juggling all the behind-the-scenes duties while writing your next big-seller and then see how easy self-publishing really is.

    That being said, self-publishing can also be a real joy, because you are in control and at the helm of the entire ship. If you know your way around printing, marketing, distribution and finances (or are willing and dedicated to learning these), then self-publishing can ve very rewarding.

    1. The good thing about self-publishing is now a days, you don't have to worry about the print side of thing. Most self-publishers are successful with eBooks and don't even think about the print side of things, unless it's to put a book out through Createspace that they don't push.

      Self-publishing isn't for everyone, nor for every type of book. But for me, self-publishing has been successful and easy. Easy once I got over the month or so of learning curves: hiring a cover designer and editor, learning how to format the eBook (which is much easier than it sounds) then putting it up in all the right places (Nook, Kindle, Smashwords). The hardest part was waiting for things to take off - the not knowing when and how or where. Once I stopped freaking out about and pushing marketing, everything got easier. Less stress, more writing time to get more books up, so people had more ways to find me. Now that I've got several books published, they're finding their audience without me marketing them.

      I never wanted to push the printing side of things - my distributor fell into place on its own, without me putting much energy or time into it. The success of my eBooks were what did it and got their attention. eBooks are where self-publishers are having success. And they don't need a publisher to be successful with eBooks.

      It's a great time to be an author. :-)

  2. I agree it's a great time to be an author, Andrea! There are pros and cons to Indie publishing, but for me it's a great way to get my stuff out to the world without waiting on anyone else. I'm writing more and enjoying the ride. Sure, it's hard work, but anything worth doing is hard work. As for wearing LOTS of hats, well, once you gain experience with your first Indie book, everything seems to fall into place. At least it has for me. Thanks for the post!