Seven years ago when I began this writing journey my vision of how a book would go from my imagination to a manuscript to the readers’ hands seemed like a pretty well-worn path. The whole author —-> agent —-> publisher direction was the only avenue I understood.
Enter digital books and small presses and publishers who read manuscripts without having them submitted by an agent. Suddenly the publishing world opened up and more authors were jumping up and down over signing their first contract. Many (including Romance Writers of America) were appalled by the lack of advances. They felt authors weren’t making good business decsions or worse yet, that they were treating their writing career as a “hobby”. But the truth is, with a higher royalty rate, authors (including me) were pleased with their contracts.
Then along came a respectable way to self-publish (called indie-publishing by some) and the world exploded for authors. There were authors talking about leaving their jobs to write full time and others talking about making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Not just the NYT and USA bestselling, big name authors, but authors new to the publishing world (EL James anyone?) and exploding onto the scene.
Now, before I go any further, I need to explain that I’m one of those people who wants to have all the information I can gather before making a decision. I received 4 contract offers on the first book I published. I actually went through their author lists and emailed to ask several questions about their publisher. From the author’s responses (or lack thereof) I was able to make an informed decsion and signed a contract that fit me. This blog post is really just me sharing some current information. I would not presume to make any judgments about other author’s choices for publication nor am I trying to steer people away from traditional publishing. I’m just throwing out some food for thought.
As far as traditional publishing, there may not be a better time to have your manuscript read. Recently, I’ve seen several publishers putting out calls for submissions. I suspect it may be due to the fact that slush piles aren’t quite as high with all the authors self-publishing. And if you choose that avenue, just go in with your eyes open. Not all traditional publishers are created equal. Ann Voss Peterson gives a great run down of her Harlequin vs self publishing experience. And Courtney Milan also gives a great accounting of her Harlequin and self-published book royalties and expenses. It’s easy enough to find out information about other publishers by simply asking around.
Maybe the disadvantages of traditional publishing outweigh the advantages for you. And you’re wondering .. Why wouldn’t I self publish? The answers are as individual and varied as authors. I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of traditional vs self-publishing. Kristine Kathryn Rusch has done a great job in THIS POST blogging about the differences between the two publishing options. (It’s really a wonderful post and totally worth reading if you have a manuscript and you’re sitting on the fence trying to decide what you want to do with it.)
So why did I choose to go the self-publishing route? For one, I had books whose rights reverted back to me after their contract expired at my first publisher. I didn’t think they fit at my other publisher and frankly, I didn’t have any solid reason not to try. As it turned out, self-publishing has been the financial boon I hadn’t quite achieved with my publishers. Yes, I’m still submitting and publishing traditionally, but I’m also choosing to spread my business across the self-publishing venue. With my last royalty statement from my publisher it’s become apparent that sales of my Tilling Passions Series has prompted sales of other books. Readers around the world are finding my books and that’s a very cool thing. But mostly it makes me happy because, for the first time in my career, my ledger is running in the black and I’m only 6 months into 2012!
I’m not shy in encouraging authors to give self-publishing a try. I know it made my knees quake before I actually ventured into the waters. But now that I’m there I’ve got to tell you, the swimming is easy and the water is refreshing. Am I saying I won’t pursue a NY contract? I’m not sure. Right now I don’t seem to have the patience to sit and write that novel that would fit the NY market. With everything going on in my life, my muse doesn’t seem to want to settle down. But with all the changes in publishing, I’m willing to stay flexible enough to take my career in the direction that works best for me.
What about you? Are you comfortable where you’re sitting right now? Are you looking to make changes or is status quo working for you? You know me, I’m curious about stuff like that.