You’ve written the best story you can. You’ve gone over it with your critique partner, run it by beta-readers, maybe even paid to have it professionally edited. You’ve personally gone through it a gazillion times to check your word choices, removed passive voice where you can, varied your sentences, made sure you started the book in the right place– the hook–and rounded it off with a kick-ass ending.
Well, you have two choices. You could go the traditional route by learning how to craft a query letter and then contact agents or go direct to publishers. Perseverance is key. I just wrote a guest post about this on Molly Greene‘s blog, sort of a “how-to go traditional” with links to help you on your journey toward success, which you can find here. Or, like a lot of writers today, you could self-publish your book on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Createspace, and the like.
How do you decide the right path for YOU?
This is your career. You and you alone need to decide. Don’t let others sway you. Hold firm to your dream. But how can you choose if you don’t have all the facts?
Today, I’ve invited someone who knows both sides of this coin, has traveled both publishing roads, and is here to give you the ins and outs of each. Nicholas Rossis is a hybrid author– a term coined by author Bob Mayer— which means an author who is both traditionally published and self-published. The best of both worlds, if you ask me. You may have seen Nicholas around the blog, usually leaving a sweet comment. He has a fantastic blog that I highly recommend. He often blogs about how-to promote your books, what works and what doesn’t.
Even if your dream is to go traditional you’ll be asked to do most, if not all, of the marketing. Prepare yourself by learning how to do it properly. It’s a great site that you can find here. It’s also on the sidebar in my blogroll. Incidentally, I just did an author feature on his blog. It was one of the funnest Q & A’s I’ve done thus far, and you can find it here.
Take it away, Nicholas!
I was watching a hilarious Mike & Molly episode the other day. Molly is a new author whose manuscript was recently accepted by a publisher, along with a nice cash advance. She is showing her publisher the first draft of her contemporary erotic novel.
As soon as he enters the room, he claps his hands in admiration. “I love it,” he says. “The story of a woman who sleeps with a lot of men while searching for her one true love is brilliant. I only want to make a tiny suggestion.” He leans towards her. “What if, every time she has sex, she travels through time. That way, she still has to sleep her way to her one true love – only, through time.”
After trying to ignore the suggestion at first, Molly finally protests, declaring her refusal to do so.
“I apologize,” the publisher says and steeples his hands. “I’m sorry if I gave you the impression you have a choice. Now get out there and write me my book!”
Sitcom hyperbole aside, this is how many Indie authors imagine the collaboration between author and publisher.
As a hybrid author, I have been lucky enough to have been on both sides of the fence. That is how I know that having a good publisher is a major boon to you and your work.
Most Indie authors will rave about the fact that they can publish whenever they feel like it, not when a higher authority gives them their stamp of approval. They will grin when thinking of how they can choose the perfect book cover or change their prices at will. They have the freedom to organize as many giveaways and promos as they desire. They can make changes to their book whenever they wish. In short, they have complete control. And they keep both rights and the majority of money made through sales. All this is important, especially if you are a published author with an established readership and platform.
There is a flip side to all this, though.
I started writing professionally in 2009. I had a few short stories published in magazines and in an anthology, then, in 2013, I self-published my first book. I was shocked to find that mine was one of some 3,000 books published each day. To set my book apart from the other 2,999 ones, I had to develop some serious marketing skills – and fast.
The other day I saw the number of books published daily has now climbed to 6,500.
You need all the help you can get to make this work, and most Indies will forget that self-publishing turns them, effectively, into a small publishing house. They have to deal not just with writing, but with editing; proofreading; cover and swag design; organizing blog tours; marketing; social media campaigns and giveaways. They have to watch out for poor deals, with marketing companies promising authors the world, only to take a large chunk out of their limited budgets. They have to adapt to a rapidly shifting environment on a daily basis.
Indies will seldom mention the long hours all this entails, or how exhausting it can get. It’s not a coincidence that most Indies have published a single book – I literally work all day to build a brand for my epic fantasy series, Pearseus, and for myself.
Having expanded into children’s books lately, I now have to make twice the effort.
Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I love it. I have some 20 years of Internet marketing experience, and have founded or co-founded eight startups in that area. I have approached writing with the same passion, dedicating my every waking hour to it. Still, I sigh with relief whenever my publisher sends me some promo material for Runaway Smile, my children’s book, knowing that I didn’t have to design it from scratch. I smile, cause I don’t have to negotiate deals with bookstores or distributors. Nor did I have to find the perfect printers for my book.
That’s why I always say that I’m not against publishers.
I’m against the poor business practices sometimes associated with bad publishers – such as retention of rights, dodgy book-keeping practices, ridiculous pricing and dreadful book covers. A good publisher, however, can be your best friend. I chat regularly with mine (Hi, George!), about everything, from politics to the future of the publishing industry.
Before signing with him, however, I had already rejected the first publisher I had approached, because of the terrible terms their contract offered. In the back of my mind, I knew I could afford to do this, as I had already self-published half a dozen books. I knew the ropes, and self-publishing had helped me to better understand the limitations and benefits of traditional publishing. It gave me the confidence to walk away from a bad deal and negotiate a good one.
So, if you’re lucky enough to find a publisher you can work with, definitely go for it. If, however, you feel you’re getting a poor deal, remember there is an alternative route. It’s not for everyone, but it has its own rewards.
Architect by training, Nicholas holds a PhD in Digital Architecture from the University of Edinburgh. He’s an avid reader, a web developer, and now, an author.
Nicholas loves to write. He lives in Athens, Greece, in the middle of a forest, with his wife, dog and two very silly cats, one of whom is always sitting on his lap, so please excuse any typos in his blog posts: typing with one hand can be hard. Mercifully, all his books are professionally edited.
You can find out more about Nicholas and his books by going to his author’s page here, or connect with him on his blog at: www.nicholasrossis.me. Because of his generous nature you can read his children’s book, Runaway Smile, free on his blog by clicking the title, cover, or go here. I loved it so much I’m buying a copy for my granddaughter. It’s that good!
I hope this helps you choose the right path for you. Whatever road you take please know I will support you and wish you huge success.
Do you have any questions/comments for Nicholas? You know what to do.
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