Authors Answer 28 – Publishing Paths

A big publishing contract with a major publishing house is a dream for many authors. But a lot of authors are going another way these days, completely bypassing the publishers and doing it themselves. This week’s question is from RedTheWriter.

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 28: Vanity Publishing? Indie Publishing? Self Publishing? Traditional Publishing? Author Publishing? What is the difference? What do you recommend?

H. Anthe Davis

For me, self-publishing through KDP worked best, because I’d been pitching my first book at publishers and agents for years without success and just wanted to get it out there so I could move on to the second book.  As a hobbyist I don’t mind that it’s not lucrative, though I do have this dream of pitching the finished series to publishers later and them going ‘yes, of course, brilliant!’ for a traditional print run.  Considering they’d scrap my covers for their own, though, I’m not sure anymore if I’ll even try that.

Elizabeth Rhodes

I’ll simplify this down to three categories.Traditional publishing is a process that involves pitching your work to a publishing house.  They decide whether your book will be marketable and the terms of your business relationship.  This process may, and often does, involve an agent to work on your behalf, and finding one can be as long and discouraging as finding a publisher.  It’s a process that’s been in practice since the beginning of the industry, and because of that and perhaps its difficulty it’s often seen as a more legitimate form of publishing.  Comparatively few authors find success with this method.

Self-publishing is a process made possible by ebooks and print on demand.  An author can bypass finding an agent and publisher, and retain control over how the books are published, marketed, and sold.  Because of the idea that “anyone can do it,” self publishing is often seen as less legitimate and the easy way out of getting a book published.

Vanity publishing is like self publishing except the author pays for the book to be published.  This process get a bad reputation from certain vanity publishers using deceptive language and tactics to make money off of naïve authors.

Personally, I prefer to self publish and will be taking this step in the very near future.  There is a certain charm to being traditionally published (probably because of aforementioned bias) but I also feel it’s a method more confined to market demand and archaic rules.  Self published authors , I think, are less constrained by this and there’s the potential for more variety and experimentation.

Amy Morris-Jones

I’m actually trying to decide which of these I prefer, so I’m not the best person to answer perhaps. For me, there’s a credibility that comes with traditional publishing—the knowing that someone (more than one someone actually) who knows a LOT about books loves my book as much as I do means something to me. The downside is the time trad publishing takes—at least a year most of the time.  I definitely appreciate that self-publishing allows so much more flexibility. In trad publishing, if a book doesn’t sell well in the first three months, it’s dead. In self-publishing, a writer has the ability to rebrand, remarket, whatever—and try it again. I think I’ll take a crack at trad publishing first—and then perhaps go the self-publishing route I better understand how the industry works.

Caren Rich

I can’t recommend any of these, I’ve only tried self-publishing once. So I have no experience to add to this conversation.

Jean Davis

Say no to vanity publishing. The rest all have their merits depending on your goals and where your story fits into the market. Your level of patience also plays into it quite a lot.

Self publishing can be very quick from writing the end to being published. To do it well, it shouldn’t be quite so quick, but that’s a tale for another day. If you have patience, try for indie publishing with a small press, where you can get some support with marketing and have the cover, editing and formatting of your novel taken care of in return for a portion of the profit  If you have high hopes that you’d like dashed and enjoy waiting for over a year for a response, then try traditional publishing. Personally, I’d recommend indie or self publishing.

D. T. Nova

I think vanity publishing is a fairly outdated term; modern self publishing doesn’t work quite the same way as what used to be called vanity publishing.

Since I’m not yet published I don’t feel qualified to actually give a recommendation, but I will likely go with self publishing for my first novel.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

These days there are so many different kinds of publishing that it’s really quite difficult to keep track. For instance, there isn’t just “self” publishing as a blanket option; you can design, print, bind, and sell your books all by yourself (“author” publishing), or you can engage the help of sites like CreateSpace, who do all the printing and everything for you (“indie” publishing), or you can share your writing through services like WattPad (not even sure what you would call that, exactly). Then there are the more traditional paths, such as querying big name publishers, submitting your writing to agents, or delving into “vanity” publishing (which, I’ll be honest, I don’t QUITE understand). Long story short, it’s hard to decide which road to take sometimes.

I think that all the possible paths have their merits and their hardships. For instance, being traditionally published means that your book will find its way into a much bigger market, but it is the slowest of the methods and you could easily find yourself waiting years to see your book actually land on a shelf. Self-publishing is much quicker, but you are left with 100% of the burden to market the book, which can be even more difficult than writing it in the first place.

Long story short, I think that every writer should research the possibilities beforehand and use that information to decide for themselves which option best suits their needs. I would have loved to be traditionally published and see my novel in book stores, for example, but that would have involved a great amount of time spent querying and waiting, querying and waiting, and I figured zombies might not be popular anymore by the time something ever came of my efforts. Thus I decided that CreateSpace was for me, allowing me to create my novel with no overhead costs and put it out there in the market while chances are still good that some people might actually want to read it!

S. R. Carrillo

It’s really very simple, from my perspective. Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing/vanity publishing. Self-publishing can encompass all the rest in one form or another. Self-published authors are un-agented and un-contracted, ergo, independent (“indie”). That’s the way to go if you want control of how your story reaches its audience. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it, if you really put the time and dedication into it that a good story needs in order to be a good book. There’re are so many resources and so much support that’s available that really makes it impossible not to wanna try at least once.

Come to the dark side, friend. We have more fun here.

Paul B. Spence

I would clump indie publishing, author publishing, and self-publishing together; they’re basically the same thing.

Vanity publishing, as I see it, is done by the people who put their books out there with no regard for proper grammar, spelling, page layout, decent covers, etc.  They just want to be able to say they have a book published, and they really need to be classified differently from the indies, etc. As far as traditional publishing goes, there’s nothing wrong with it, and good luck if you can do it, but traditional publishers seem to be taking fewer and fewer new authors.

Jay Dee Archer

I haven’t been published yet, but I do know how I’ll be doing it.

Indie publishing is the big thing these days through services like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace. There seems to be a more than 50% share of profits from this method now. You have complete control over your book. You decide the design of the cover, how it’s written, you arrange the editing, and you do all of the marketing. It’s all about how you want to do it.

Vanity publishing has a bad reputation due to the fact that the author pays to have their book published, and likely won’t see any profit.

Traditional publishing is what many authors want to do, but it’s incredibly difficult to get into. You need an agent and the publisher must like your book enough to publish it.  The process tends to take a long time, too. You may have to wait a very long time, and you may go through years of sending in your manuscript to publishers with no success.

I personally like indie or self-publishing. I’m likely to go through KDP for my first book(s). If I gain the attention of a publisher, I’d have to see what kind of offer they have. If it’s favourable, I’d go for it.

How about you?

Which method of publishing do you recommend? Leave your answers in the comments below.

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20 thoughts on “Authors Answer 28 – Publishing Paths”

  1. Well, obviously I’ve gone the self-publishing route: my clone-sibling Paul writes novels, and I edit them.

    There are advantages to either self-publishing OR traditional publishing, and each author needs to decide which is best for them.

  2. I’ve gone down the traditional publishing route, and I’ve been lucky in my editors: With all three books, they’ve pushed me to make them better than I would or could have made them on my own. I’ve worked as an editor, but I can’t see my own work the way my editors could, or the way I could see someone else’s. That outsider’s eye makes (or can make) a huge difference. On top of that, self-promotion isn’t one of my gifts, so I’ve been glad to have someone else do (most of, or at least some of) the promotion.

    It’s not perfect, and it’s not easy getting a book accepted. I understand the lure of self-publishing but I’m happy not to try it.

    1. I recommend cloning yourself so you have someone to handle the promotion side of being a writer. 🙂 Even trad-published authors can benefit from that, since publishers don’t do as much as they used to.

      1. A clone would be nice. I could send him to work while I write, too 🙂

        I’ve noticed that R. A. Salvatore has been doing a lot of self-promotion lately.

    2. Nice to hear the perspective of a published author who went the traditional way. I think most, if not all, of us who write for Authors Answer have chosen self-publishing. Though I wouldn’t rule out traditional publishing for myself.

  3. I’ve published through both traditional and indie routes. I have to say I like the control afforded by indie publishing in terms of timing and promotion. I suspect I’ll continue with both, but I’m currently enjoying the options with self-publishing.

    1. Ooh, you’re one of those authors going the hybrid path. I think I’d enjoy a big contract with a traditional publisher, but I wouldn’t expect it at all. Self-publishing seems very lucrative, if I market well.

  4. I have just started to educate myself about publishing options, so I appreciate the perspectives offered here. Because I am a poet, the traditional route is a bit different, as there aren’t usually agents involved and most of the presses are small. Also, you generally need to get some name recognition going through appearing in select journals first.

    I do know that many poets now forgo the journal/chapbook/collection hard-copy-based route and publish electronically instead. Because, despite my age, I am new at this, I am going to try to take the traditional approach, which will subject my work to editorial judgment and, no doubt, a lot of rejection. However, I think self-publishing for me could result in work going out to the public that was not sufficiently honed and would not stand the test of time. At the moment, my fear of putting out dreck that would live indefinitely in cyberspace is stronger than my ambition to see a chapbook or volume of my poetry in print. Maybe ten years from now, the calculus will have changed.

    1. Poetry is a very different animal, isn’t it? It does seem to me that self-publishing is the way many people have gone.

      Thankfully, there’s also Createspace, which Amazon also runs. It’s print on demand, so you can have print books. It’s also possible to get the books into libraries, and even bookstores if you know how to do that (I don’t!).

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