Friday, September 24, 2010

Looking for the "Right" Path

Ever since I decided I want to be a published author, I kept focused on the traditional path: find an agent, find a publisher, and get the book out on book store shelves. That was some years ago, before self-publishing, POD, and epublishing existed. It’s a different world out there, but I’ve still held firm to the traditional path. I’ve heard the pros and cons of the various publishing forms from self-publishing to small presses to traditional publishing and I’ve told people that as long as they do their research to find the best publishing course for them, that was fine; I was sticking with the traditional path.

Then I found this blogpost and I started wondering about the variety of publishing paths and the benefits of epublishing. Granted, Mr. Konrath has a large following from his previously traditionally published books, so that would account for some ebook sales, but still…

Now I’m going to turn this over to y’all. Where do you stand on publishing? Do you think epublishing on your own (publishing through Amazon) is the way to go? I’m not talking five or ten years down the road, but today. Is Mr. Konrath the exception or the new standard? He mentions other authors who’ve been successful who aren’t as well known as he is, so that sort of takes the “well, he’s famous” argument out of the equation, right? I understand why published authors would want to epublish their back stock and out of print books, but new books? All thoughts, opinions and comments are welcome.

Gary . . .


  1. Gary, in my opinion, it's a personal decision. Other than trying to make it in "show biz" I doubt it there's a more discouraging path to success than trying to get a book published. How many people give up after a few rejections? A huge percentage. I just received an email via my website from a man who's tried for years to get published. He wanted to know what I thought about self-publishing. I told him since my books are published by relatively small presses, I end up doing most of the promo, exactly like a person who self-publishes and that it may be the right decision for him. The Amazon thing opens up a whole new world of opportunity and puts control in the author's hands. Just my opinion, of course!

  2. Gee, not a complex issue in the slightest, Gary...

    My main take on all of this is that no writer should have all of his eggs in one basket. You need multiple revenue streams (a terrible phrase for an artist!) in order to survive. But you also need to be careful not to cannibalize one revenue stream (augh!) while setting up another one.

    The big challenge is to make a self-published book stand out from the crowd. What will that take? How much are you willing to do? That's all up to you.

    Also, you need to self-publish. Don't forget that Konrath invests some serious time and $$ in formatting his books, getting good covers, etc. If you need to invest $x to self-publish a book, how long will it take to recoup your initial costs, let alone make a profit?

    Many, many questions to ask -- few answers -- but really, when it all boils down, what's stopping us?

  3. I agree with John. I have a book coming out with a small press. I have a book on Kindle, I have a full being considered at an e-only publisher and I am still looking for an agent.
    In my short time in publisher I have had several pubs go under so I don't trust any one venue.

  4. Well, as you know, Gary, Joe Konrath is a promotion machine. He first gained popularity by going the traditional publishing route then starting promoting like a wild man. He's very funny and entertaining, has a personal charisma that few writers have. My take is that it would be extremely difficult to do this as a strictly self-published author unless you have the PR ability of Lady GaGa. Then it just might be possible. A very few people have done it but I think the odds are against it. Of course the odds are against any kind of publishing success, so it just might be worth a shot.

  5. Having a leg in each camp, traditional and my own publishing company here are some thoughts:
    -do not self-publish fiction if you don't have a platform, ie a backlist. 99.5% of self-published fiction will die on the vine. Or unless you're the worlds greatest marketing person.
    -multiple income streams is important.
    -stay current on what's going on. Things are changing faster than most predict. eBooks will have a much larger share of the market than pretty much all the 'experts' predict.
    -work at your craft and become a better writing. Too many people focus on getting published when they should focus on being a better writer.
    Konrath's path is a great one, but you need his platform, his product (back and front list) and his promoting. What are your three Ps?

  6. If you want another take on it, be sure to check out Dean Wesley Smith's blog. He talks a lot about doing both, and he's taking all of his old stuff -- some that hasn't seen the light of day in almost 30 years -- and slowly getting it up for sale with e-publishing. He's also writing novels for both traditional publishing and self-publishing. It's interesting to read.

    I'm currently trying the traditional publishing route. I don't have enough material to try both at the same time, and I don't have the time and energy to promote something that's self-published while creating new stories (and working and having time for family and so forth). That may change, but one step at a time.

    I think traditional publishing makes a good first choice for me because they give money up front, and I don't have to do all the editing, cover art, marketing, and so on.

  7. I'm totally in favor of self-publishing because I feel more empowered by it. yes, I have to do a lot of self-promotion, but at the same time when I look at what it costs me in terms of time, money, lack of control, and waiting to go the regular publishing route, I feel I'm better off.

    In addition, going the traditional route is far less certain. Even if you're accepted, the so-called money, isn't likely to be much for most new authors. If you go with a smaller press, you're likely worse off because (1) many do very little promo, and (2) if you get an advance, it's small, (3) smaller presses have problems getting their books into bookstores, (4) and you don't get much off the royalties anyway.

    It's a sad but true statement with bigger publishers that they don't do much marketing for new authors unless you have a truly spectacular book (or you're a celebrity).