Once upon a time, in the dark ages of 2006, when I’d just written THE END on the last page of my first completed manuscript and had to decide what to do with it, there was really only one option open to me: Query, find an agent, and if you’re lucky, sell it to a publisher.
If you’re unlucky, write another and repeat the process.
At that point, self-publishing was for the people who hadn’t been able to snag the attention of an agent and/or an editor.
If you were good enough, the wisdom went, you’d get a traditional publishing contract. If you weren’t... well, only people who weren’t good enough, self-published.
By 2011, when I got the rights to that first book back, the publishing landscape had changed. Self-publishing was no longer only for the rejected, the down at heel. It was the ‘in’ thing. Everyone was doing it, and people were getting filthy rich, which made more people want to do it. Suddenly, self-pub had gone from being the anti-Christ to the second coming.
So I gave it a try. I had a book that had been published, where the publisher had returned the rights to me after declining to publish the rest of the series. I had three books written and edited, one book written but not edited, and another halfway done. Over the course of six or eight months that year, I published all of them.
And sat back and waited for the money to start rolling in.
And waited some more.
Believe it or not, the money didn’t roll in. It trickled, though. Slowly. Three years later, I still haven’t sold a million copies of my books, although I’ve published more of them since. And I’m making a living, which is a big deal to many writers.
Turns out, self-publishing is just another way to get content to readers. It’s neither the anti-Christ nor the second coming. It isn’t a miracle cure or a get-rich-quick scheme. It’s just another aspect of the publishing game. And the things that work in traditional publishing, tend to work in self-publishing as well, now that things have settled down into a more steady groove.
The more books you have available, the more money you’ll make.
Put out a professional product, and people will buy it.
Cream does rise to the top.
I’m a hybrid author these days. I do some traditional publishing and some self-publishing. There’s more self-pub, but only because it’s faster to get the books out when I can do it myself. There’s no one else’s production time to take into account. When you publish with a publishing house, there’s the editor’s time, and the copy-editor’s time, and the proof-reader’s time, and the cover designer’s time, and the sales team’s time to consider in addition to your own. When you’re all of those, you’re doing all the work, but you control the timing. So for every trad book I put out, I manage two, maybe even three, self-published books.
Not because they’re of inferior quality, though. Coming from a traditional publishing background is a real bonus in the self-publishing game. When you’ve been through the process a few times, and you see just how much goes into a publisher’s putting out a professional and polished product, and how many eyes are on that manuscript before it’s deemed polished enough, you realize just how much work you have to do to put out a comparable product on your own.
And that’s what you have to do. Because if self-publishing is just another way to get content to readers, then your self-published book is going to have to compete in the same marketplace as the traditionally published books from Random Penguin, and Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins, and Harlequin. And while you may feel that the traditionally published books out there are not up to the snuff they ought to be, they’re usually professionally edited, copy-edited, proof-read and packaged. However you may feel about the writing or the story, the product – with a very few exceptions – is a professional one.
So while signing with a publisher will get you an editor who works with you on story structure and characterization and sometimes grammar, and a copy-editor who checks all your facts and figures and makes sure you’re not messing up your history, and a proof-reader who makes sure (after you do) that you haven’t left any errors, and a cover artist, and a cover designer, and an interior designer and formatter, all of whom make sure your book looks as lovely as it can possibly look, not to mention a sales and/or marketing department whose job it is to get your book into the public eye, where it can be seen and bought – because nobody can buy it if they don’t know it’s there... when you’re self-publishing, you have to do all those things yourself, or hire someone to do them for you.
It isn’t for the faint of heart.
If you don’t get off on the control, it’s probably not for you.
If your heart doesn’t beat a little faster at the thought of being the master of your own fate, you’re probably better off with a publisher.
And if you just want to write, and you don’t want to deal with the cover design, or the marketing, or the whole career-building bit, do yourself a favor and go the traditional route.
You’ll be happier, trust me.
It isn’t for everyone.
And that’s fine. Not being a self-publisher doesn’t make you a failure, any more than not being able to sell a book to traditional publishing ten years ago made you a failure. It made you not a good fit. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Because if self-pub is just another way of getting product to market, it’s not better or worse than any other way of getting product to market.
It’s neither the anti-Christ nor the second coming. It’s a direction you can choose to take your career, if you think it’s something you’ll enjoy. Or it’s a direction you can choose to ignore, if you think you won’t. Trad publishing isn’t going anywhere, in spite of what the first wave of self-publishers claimed five years ago. 70% of all books sold in the U.S. every year are still print books, and getting print books into stores is something you still can’t do on your own. Whether seeing your book on the self at Barnes & Noble or your local indie bookstore is important to you, is something only you can answer for yourself.
There’s good and bad in every aspect of publishing. There’s even a little bit of ugly once in a while. And we all have to choose for ourselves what our priorities are, and where we fit in the scheme of things.
It’s a great time to be a writer. The opportunities are practically endless. And that’s a very good thing!
About the Author :
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jenna Bennett (Jennie Bentley) writes the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and the Cutthroat Business mysteries for her own gratification. She also writes a variety of romance for a change of pace. For more information. please visit her website, www.jennabennett.com.
My Previous Interview(s) with this Author : August 2012
My Previous Guest Post(s) by this Author : Mysteries and More - November 2012
My Previous Review(s) for this Author : Tall, Dark, and Divine | Fortune's Hero
My Previous Mention(s) of this Author's Books/Characters : Teaser Tuesdays: Tall, Dark, and Divine | Best Book Couples -- Happy Valentine's Day 2013 | Blog Tour - Covet Promo Reveal Blast Materials
Find Jenna Bennett :
The Giveaways!! :
This giveaway ends December 7, 2013 at midnight.
[Click the book titles to find out info about them or to read my review about them]
- A Smashwords ebook copy of "Picture Perfect" by Ella Fox to two randomly drawn people from Rafflecopter
- An Ebook copy--winner's choice from Jodi Redford's backlist to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- A Kindle ebook copy of "Catching the Bad Guy" by Marie Astor to three randomly drawn people from Rafflecopter
- "The North Poe" Christmas Boxed Cards from Jenna Bennett to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- Winner's Choice :: two books (total) from Kristine Cayne and/or Dana Delamar or 10% off any service from By Your Side Self-Publishing from Kristine Cayne & Dana Delamar to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- A Kindle ebook copy of "Every Night Forever" by R. E. Butler to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- A Kindle ebook copy of "Playing Games" by Jessica Clare to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- A Kindle ebook copy of "Indelible" by Bethany Lopez to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- A Kindle ebook copy of "Battlescars" by Sophie Monroe to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- A Kindle ebook copy of "Drive Me Crazy" by Marquita Valentine to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- A Kindle ebook copy of "Desire By Blood" by Melissa Schroeder to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
- A Kindle ebook copy of "Darkness Awakened" by Katie Reus to one randomly drawn person from Rafflecopter
a Rafflecopter giveaway