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Posts Tagged ‘traditional publisher’

The road to publication is filled with pain and tears… bloodshed… mayhem…. I’m being melodramatic here. Of course, that could just be that I’ve recently read several posts about how painful the publication process can be and how difficult it is to write good fiction. Here’s a small sampling:


“This is literally years of work you’re seeing. And hours and hours of work each day. The amount of time and energy I put into marketing is exhausting. I am continuously overwhelmed by the amount of work I have to do that isn’t writing a book. I hardly have time to write anymore, which sucks and terrifies me.” — Amanda Hocking’s post Some Things That Need to Be Said


“When it comes to traditional publication, at times, it may feel like the journey is filled with one root canal and subsequent infection after another. We know what’s coming—the long waits, the rejections, the stinging feedback. We’ve heard others talk about it, we brace ourselves for it, but then when it comes we’re unprepared for how much it really hurts.” — Jody Hedlund’s post Enduring the Pain in the Quest for Publication


“I’ve been blogging for a little over three years. I’ve been writing fiction since … well, pretty much since I could write. My blog posts are read by thousands of people. Only 1% of the fiction I’ve ever written has been published. Fiction is incredibly hard to do well.” — Ali Luke’s post Why Fiction is So Hard to Write



Admittedly, I’m picking on these blogger/authors, but it’s only because these posts spotlight the prevailing problem I’m seeing amongst writers, both new and not-so-new. We’ve picked up the bad habit of looking at the challenges, the hardships, and forgetting the real reason behind why we write. Most of us write because we can’t stop writing. We may ask, “Is it time to just give it up?” as JM Tohlin did before finally publishing The Great Lenore, but when it comes down to brass tacks we simply are unable to.

There’s about as much choice in sitting down to craft a story as there is in breathing.

The fact is, yes, getting published traditionally is hard and being self-published can mean hard work (unless you’re JA Konrath). But here’s another fact: dwelling on how hard it is doesn’t get the story written. It’s time we dragged ourselves out of the pit of despair, step down from our high horses, and get to work.

So in the spirit of moving forward, here’s 4 great links to help get you in the groove:

  1. Opportunity Comes in Overalls by Kristen Lamb: She’s a social media expert with a sharp sense of humor who seems to know just when we need a kick in the pants and that’s exactly what she gives us in this post.

  2. A Perfectionist’s Guide to Editing: 4 Stages by Jami Gold: Jami’s a paranormal author on a deadline battling the imp of perfection, something many of us are doing, and gives us 4 great ways to ignore and use our inner perfectionist.

  3. Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris: This book is a plotter’s dream (and can help pantser’s too 😉 ) as it gives easy to use steps in developing a novel from the first spark of an idea to the finished product.

  4. Hooked by Les Edgerton: This book is the simplest guide I’ve found thus far on how to fashion a beginning that’ll keep ’em reading to the end.



What other ways have you found to pick yourself up and find that forward momentum you lost?

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As with all other aspects of independent publishing, the choice of published format abounds. Do you choose hardcover or paperback?

If you publish with a traditional publisher, they will most likely make the decision for you. That can be a good thing if you have a hard time making decisions, but it could also mean the death of your hard work. If your publisher decides to publish your book in hardcover, and it doesn’t sell well, then the chances of it being released as a paperback are slim.

So why would a publisher want to publish a hardcover copy first? For two main reasons: 1) old guard reviews and 2) profit margin. Reason one begs the question, how many people actually read book reviews in newspapers and magazines anymore? And furthermore, how many of those people actually purchase a book based on a review they’ve read? Most of the people I know, myself included, decide on a book based on word of mouth or, if I’m buying online, based on customer reviews of a book.

When I’m in a bookstore I buy a book based on the bit I’ve scanned (usually the table of contents, if it’s non-fiction, and the first couple of chapters). Occasionally I ‘ll buy a book based on what I’ve read on the internet via blogs and web sites, but since I don’t know these people I’m always very cautious about spending the money. After all, haven’t we all discovered at one time or another that our taste in reading material differs greatly from others?

Reason two makes more sense financially. As Justine Larbalestier, author of YA novel Liar, says, “An average royalty for hardcover is 10%, and for paperback 6%. So [paperbacks] are a smaller percentage of a smaller amount of money, which means on average you have to sell three times as many to earn out.” But I don’t see the merit for an independent publisher to make every decision based solely on how many books sell in one format.

In the same blog post, Justine points out that there are several book series that debuted in paperback and saw great sales. So the question becomes, what does the reader want? (And aren’t they the ones we have to please anyway?) That, I’m afraid, comes down to personal preference. There are those who love the look and feel of a hardcover book. Librarians prefer hardbacks because they last longer. Book collectors say the same thing. People who love hardbacks are willing to pay for them. However, I would hazard a guess that only a few will buy a hardcover book from an unknown author without having the benefit of word of mouth or personally perusing the book.

The rest of us prefer paperbacks for some of the same reasons. I love the feel of a paperback, of being able to read one-handed while eating. I also like that I can easily stick a paperback in my purse for those long waiting times at the doctor’s office (assuming my daughter’s not with me :)) or during a solo lunch.

There is one bit of information in favor of paperbacks that Justine passes along in her post and that is that, while hardcover sales are down, paperbacks are only down slightly and in some cases are actually climbing. I see that as a good sign that independent publishers should strongly consider releasing everything in paperback first. For myself, I’ve decided on that route. I figure if it sells well enough in paperback, chances are good there will be those wanting it in hardcover.

Of course, there’s no reason an independent author can’t do both if you’re using a POD company. The choices on The Road to Writing are as wide open as any creative soul could want.

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Love it or hate it, if you’re a writer you can’t ignore it.  It’s the debate on whether being self-published is valid or not and whether we should continue to call ourselves Independent Authors or Self-published Authors.  After reading Victoria Strauss’ “Why You Are Probably Not an Independent Author (or, Another Post for Which I Expect I Will Get Some Flack)” I thought I’d chime in on the argument.

I must admit that Victoria’s idea that using the term “Independent” was: 1) inaccurate, 2) redundant, and 3) euphemistic and that we should all just call ourselves “self-published” (unless we can’t “admit that self-publishing actually does still carry a stigma“) made me rather angry.  If we put her words to work, then we can’t even call ourselves “self-published” unless we do everything, including printing each and every copy ourselves.

As MeiLin Miranda commented, “But why should people be stigmatized for trying to find their own audience? What amazes me is that literature is the last medium where the gatekeepers are still so firmly worshipped and those outside the gates so deeply despised.”  MeiLin goes on to explain that bands and comic artists aren’t stigmatized by going the independent route.  The question is, why are authors?

One person commented that “self-published” equalled poor quality writing.  I can’t argue that in a lot of cases that is true.  However, this person believes that by going the traditional route one’s writing will become better because it must get past the editor’s desk first.  I say, not so!  I’ve seen plenty of traditionally published books that make me shudder from the poor quality.  It was published because the publisher believed it would sell, not because it was well-written.  If a writer wants to improve his or her writing and still self-publish, then that writer must seek out an unbiased third-party to edit the piece.  There are groups like Critters for that.

As Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords publishing, points out, “Part of the problem here is that many traditionalists (uh oh, did I just create a new label?) have spent years maligning the term “self-published” to connote “loser author,” “failure,” “not good enough to get published in a respectable manner,” and worst of all, “vanity.””  He goes on to say about vanity that “…the word also implies conceited and excessive pride in one’s appearance. What’s more vain than an author refusing to publish their book unless its published by a big name NY publisher? Vanity cuts both ways, folks. And let’s face it, publishing is an act of vanity. It’s the author saying, “I have something I think is worth sharing with the world.” Blogging, twittering, public speaking and social networking are all forms of vanity as well.”

There were a lot more comments on both sides.  Obviously I come down on the side of keeping the term “Independent Author”, but I would like to add one more item, something another person added in the comments.  No writer should be stigmatized regardless of what path one takes.  I would like to put forth the idea that both “traditionally published” and “self-published” be abolished from our vocabulary.  Let us all just be writers on The (hard) Road to Writing.

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The second most important thing to becoming an independent author is to research your options. (The first is, of course, to write, but that is an entry for another time.) I spent a lot of time doing google searches for the “right” publishing company, trying to decide whether to stick with a traditional publisher or strike out on my own with a print-on-demand company.

Read the rest.

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