Some (optimistic-ish) thoughts on self-publishing.

Coragem

Believer in flawed heroes
Joined
Nov 4, 2010
Messages
556
Location
I started writing a door stopping wedge of a sci-f
I would never advise anyone to take any particular publishing route. BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL A LOTTERY. They all involves possible pitfalls. Swings and roundabouts and roulette wheels. However, this might be of interest to, well, me most of all, but perhaps some of you.

Basically, having listened to the podcast linked below, I've been feeling a bit more optimistic about self-pub. NOT that I could ever, or would ever want to write like the guest author in the podcast (Nick Thacker). The guy has a background in marketing and he's taking just weeks to write (in fact dictate) entire, finished novels. For me taking time over the language and the style is a lot of the point of writing. Nonetheless, some optimism:

(1) The impression I get is that while trad pub can bring initial income with the (normally not huge) advance, and there can be some buzz around the release, it's pretty common for books to largely disappear thereafter. In contrast, self pub, if it works out, can be the opposite way around. Sure, it may be that practically no one buys the first book at the start. But as more titles are released, and there's more advertising (paid ads, social media, email newsletter) things can BUILD. Every new release is exposure that advertises what's already been released.

(2) Personally I find writing for agents/trad can be disabling. I'm always feeling pressured to reach such a high bar. So I guess I like the idea of being free to just write the best thing I can within a certain timeframe, without "gatekeeper stress".

(3) As is always said, with self-pub we have control. Providing I still have time to write (!), I like the idea of deciding my own cover, arranging my own editing and typesetting, having the freedom to keep working at advertising, i.e., trying different things even if at first results aren't great. Of course, I should stress that I'm very fortunate to be in a position where I can contemplate paying for my own ads (as well as editing and cover design). I can afford to chance that investment, even knowing that I may well not get the money back in sales. Not everyone is in the same position.

With all that said, my current WIP is going to agents when it's ready. After that, I'll see.

 

Christine Wheelwright

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2022
Messages
860
Location
Oh Canada!
Publish traditionally and you will get $1 per book sold. Self-publish and you get to keep most of the sale value. A lucrative route if you can pull it off. But if you are not able to self-market forget it. There is so much crap out there - literally millions of self-published works of dubious quality. You will likely be swamped unless you have some external way to create a following.
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
1,931
Location
Wales UK
An informative podcast by Michelle Gordon on different types of publishing.
We met at a literary festival and she has some innovative ideas. Conventional publishing has more drawbacks than I realised. Some publishing options you may not have known existed are discussed here and are worth considering.
 

Coragem

Believer in flawed heroes
Joined
Nov 4, 2010
Messages
556
Location
I started writing a door stopping wedge of a sci-f
An informative podcast by Michelle Gordon on different types of publishing.
We met at a literary festival and she has some innovative ideas. Conventional publishing has more drawbacks than I realised. Some publishing options you may not have known existed are discussed here and are worth considering.
Re. the Not From This Planet Podcast, I certainly listened with interest. Clearly, not the best impression of trad publishing. Rather a preference or a bias towards self-publishing. Should be noted that the podcasters have an agenda: to a greater or lesser extent, they're promoting their "collaborative publishing" business.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
26,353
Location
UK
You need a very real marketing plan for self-publishing to be viable. Otherwise you are getting 70% of nothing.

Also, don't underestimate the costs involve in editing and getting covers. Or the cost of paid promotion to get sales - or the difficulty in actually making a profit on paid advertising.

Frankly, you should be very cynical about anyone suggesting self-publishing is either quick and easy money. It is neither. You need to treat it as a serious long-term business, and also be aware that if you make pocket money you're doing well.
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
7,632
A lucrative route if you can pull it off. But if you are not able to self-market forget it.

Very true. It seems that the current situation in publishing is, in a word, awful. The trad world seems to have contracted and lost confidence after Covid: it feels as if in 20 years' time, the only trad-published novels will be franchise tie-ins, (ghost-written) books by celebrities, and "event" books that reflect their time in some way and date very badly. Of course, this trend could change, and there are types of fiction that just don't seem to die, so there is still some hope.

And self-publishing is pretty terrible too. You simply need the skills, time and money to market a book full-time, as well as a deep understanding of social media. It's another job. I also suspect that it would be rare to find the skills to write a good book and also to market it successfully in the same person. I am currently trying to self-publish three fantasy novels. It's very frustrating at times.

The ideal situation would be to marry someone who is very rich and is very good at marketing, and who considers you a literary genius.
 

Astro Pen

Write now.
Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2020
Messages
1,931
Location
Wales UK
Re. the Not From This Planet Podcast, I certainly listened with interest. Clearly, not the best impression of trad publishing. Rather a preference or a bias towards self-publishing. Should be noted that the podcasters have an agenda: to a greater or lesser extent, they're promoting their "collaborative publishing" business.
This is true @Coragem . What draws me to their collaborative publishing model is that, while socially competent, I am an introvert at heart.
I have no social media presence, (twitter, blogs facebook etc' ), and have no wish to get bogged down in it considering it a minefield both in terms of trolls and time and emotion spent once drawn into it.
So for me their appeal is that they can cover the weaknesses that I have, in say blogging, press releases and contacts, should I go the self publishing route.
Although I will pursue trad publishing as my first option, I think a major takeaway from their talk is to be careful with the small print on any contract with a trad publisher. I did a course on music industry law, and there are many similar pitfalls to signing the first contract offered to you unamended. Always get a lawyer to go over it with you, it will almost certainly pay you back the fee handsomely and potentially stop you from putting yourself in a bad place.
 

Ambrose

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 8, 2020
Messages
181
Indeed. When a publisher sends you a contract already signed, that only means that they like its terms. Negotiate - even as to the number of author's copies!
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
7,632
while socially competent, I am an introvert at heart.

Likewise. I find social media hard work, and I don't instinctively "get" people the way most others seem to: sometimes it feels as if everyone else is slightly psychic. The promotional side of things is much harder than the writing, and nowhere near as enjoyable.
 

AllanR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2021
Messages
608
Location
Canada
One of my friends is quite successful with self publishing.
-he writes five or six books a year, and since he has a large body of work, he gives away the first of a series regularly.
-he and his wife own their home and their kids are all adults.
-his wife is his full time editor and promoter.
 

Coragem

Believer in flawed heroes
Joined
Nov 4, 2010
Messages
556
Location
I started writing a door stopping wedge of a sci-f
This is true @Coragem . What draws me to their collaborative publishing model is that, while socially competent, I am an introvert at heart.
Yes, I feel you. I am very confident that I can produce a highly professional product. After writing almost 15 years, I truly believe I can write good novels. Then I believe I can absolutely find people to help me with editing, cover, etc.

THE PROBLEM is getting the novel(s) in front of the right eyes. The fear is that the novel(s) will vanish like raindrops in the ocean.

So, yes, given that promotion and advertising seem like the big barrier, this "collaborative" setup is attractive. On the other hand, as hinted above, something made me a little mistrustful of the presenters on the Not From This Planet podcast. The feeling that they had a bias, and a self-promoting agenda.

Anyway, I'd like to learn more. I'm going to ask you guys about books on self-publishing, but I'll put it in another thread …

For now, thanks everyone.
 

Teresa Edgerton

Goblin Princess
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 1, 2004
Messages
15,593
Location
California
So, yes, given that promotion and advertising seem like the big barrier, this "collaborative" setup is attractive.
There are a number of questions you should be asking before you get involved with any such company. Like how long have they been around and how successful have they been promoting the books of the authors who have already signed with them. What exactly is the deal? Exactly what rights/recompense would they claim and exactly what services do they offer?

A lot of small press start-ups don't have the least idea how books are promoted and sold to the consumer. They may think they know, because they've been involved in selling something else, but it's not at all the same. Also, a lot of these businesses with "creative" approaches to publishing are scams, out to grab as many rights as they can and the services they actually provide are very different from what they seem to offer.

So you need to know about the history of this company, and their reputation. I'd suggest you check them out at WRITER BEWARE® - SFWA. If they have a long history there, or even if writers who have recently signed with them are beginning to be troubled and ask questions about them, then you would be better off avoiding them.
 

Coragem

Believer in flawed heroes
Joined
Nov 4, 2010
Messages
556
Location
I started writing a door stopping wedge of a sci-f

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
26,353
Location
UK
I am very confident that I can produce a highly professional product. After writing almost 15 years, I truly believe I can write good novels. Then I believe I can absolutely find people to help me with editing, cover, etc.
One lesson I think I've learned is that of patience - and that there's probably little point trying for an agent after you think you've completed a novel. If I were trying for a publishing contract at the moment, I'd focus on getting a series of books finished first. That gives you plenty of time to revise what you have to get everything up to scratch. And if no one bites and you go the self-publishing route, it is much easier to promote and sell a series than a standalone.
 

Finch

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2019
Messages
186
A Talk with Philip K. Dick (1976) : Hour 25 with Mike Hodel : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

It is a hard to make money in the publishing business .
In the past, publishers would publish a lot of new books every year. It would be financed by previous successes. The idea was , and still is, to build up a back catalogue of money-making books to pay for the new books to add to revenue earners. The problem with self publishing is that you need to have a number of business skills, not just be a very skilled, and prolific writer, and you only have one writer in your catalogue, yourself. The link above is some interesting interviews with P K Dick and his experience with publishers.
 

Montero

Senior Member
Supporter
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
3,342
Location
Up the clum
I think there are a lot of things worth doing that are easy, but also ones that are hard.

I've just spent the afternoon sitting in the partial sun under a beautiful tree reading a book. It wasn't hard but it was well worth doing.

However when you succeed at something really hard to do, there can be that feeling of triumph - to alleviate the exhaustion.. :)
 

Similar threads


Top