Sunday, March 17, 2013

Indie vs Traditional Publishing

The Valley of the Sun Romance Authors gave out these tote bags when readers bought our books at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire. Every name on the tote is a published author. Some writers went the traditional route and sold their books to a big publisher like Harlequin, Random House, St. Thomas Press, etc. These authors received advances and will eventually receive royalty checks. They have editors and deadlines. They have the added pressure of keeping their sales up in order to receive future contracts. The added bonus with traditional publishers is they send out thousands of copies of your book to bookstores and perhaps supermarkets.

Some of these writers sold to small digital presses like The Wild Rose Press. Authors who haven't been able to sell their books to the big publishers because they don't have an agent, their book is different than the books these editors are looking for, or they don't want the pressure of dealing with a big house, will often choose a smaller press. These publishers have editors and will send out copies for reviews. They do some promotion for you, but not a lot. The downside is some offer print copies and some don't. The Wild Rose Press does. Also, they often don't send out mass quantities to bookstores. If you choose this route you must make sure you are dealing with a reputable company. Ask other writers about their experiences. I believe every writer should join a professional organization like Romance Writers of America to help you guide your career.

Last, but not least, some of the writers listed on the tote are self-published or "Indie" writers. They usually hire someone to create a cover, then they format the manuscript and download it onto sites like Smashwords and Amazon. They basically cut out the middle man. The upside is the author will receive most of the profit for the book. The downside, besides paying hundreds of dollars to prepare your book for publishing, is the author is in charge of marketing the book. Some authors have found great success, but they also spend hours a day on promotion, and there is no guarantee readers will be interested in your book. Also, you must make sure your book is edited. I suggest getting a critique partner, but there are professional editors out there.
I know a few New York Times Bestselling authors who have decided to give up their big contracts in order to self-publish. These authors already have a following and are finding they make more money now.

How do you decide which route to go? There are many writers asking themselves that question daily. It depends on your goals and how much time you want to spend on promotion. Can you handle deadlines or do you want to set your own deadlines? Is your dream to make The New York Times list or do you simply want to see your book in print? Where do you see your writing career ten years from now? Once you answer these questions, you may be able to start down one of these paths.

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