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Which should I go with?

  1. Traditional

    7 vote(s)
    53.8%
  2. Self

    6 vote(s)
    46.2%
  1. J.C.O. Goss
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    J.C.O. Goss New Member

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    Bad idea?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by J.C.O. Goss, May 6, 2014.

    I was planning on going with self-publishing for a number of reasons, but after reading a few topics on here and doing some research, I'm honestly confused. I have a concept for a novel in mind, and I'm almost ready to start doing actual work on it, but when I do, should I go for self-publishing (I was gonna start with an ebook and hopefully follow up with printed copies later on), or should I try traditional?

    My concerns are that if I go traditional, I'll be controlled, have to surrender creative control, or be rejected to infinity, but if I go self, I'll never actually generate enough sales to be anything but laughable, or even afford to publish printed copies.
     
  2. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even traditional won't make you much. I'm not sure why you think your creative control will disappear; I've never heard any horror stories of professional editors changing that much of the core content.

    Some people make money in either. A lot don't.

    I've long decided that my goal is to self-publish a novel and get five sales. That's all-- every digit on my left hand @ like $2.99 each. Then buy a pen or an orange soda or something.

    But I like to set low bars. Nothing wrong with dreaming, pal.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If you want my advice, don't worry about publishing right now. You haven't even started writing the novel, and it may take years before you're actually done. By then, you'll have a much better understanding of the pros and cons of both options, and you'll probably know which route is best for you.
     
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed.
    I always advise quite the same.
    Don't stress over things way in the future when you haven't even done the core things that need to be done to achieve either eventuality.

    I think it's a matter of personal success.
    If you need the outsider validation (And a damn good "This is good enough for the public" check) then go traditional. I know I need the validation.
    Self-Publishing might be more a of a personal goal kind of like starting a small business or just needing to create and put something into the world.
    Or whatever else you need.

    Financially, I bet traditional is safer and more likely to succeed due to publishers advertising your work instead of you doing all the legwork in domains you know nothing about.
    It's free to send your book to a house, it's expensive to print and market your book.

    Creativity wise, a house might reject your work due to their stance on certain subjects or just won't believe your stuff will sell (Good luck to any first time author trying to sell a 1000 page manuscript to a publisher) or might deem your fantasy too D&D like for them even if you disagree with valid points.
    The most creativity you lose is probably cover art. I know a lot of fantasy houses do it themselves with little to no input from you and may even demand to have a world map (Pissed Terry Goodkind off to no end).

    That's what I learned, but every experience is different of course.
     
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  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Remember that if you self publish, you have largely eliminated the chance to get that work traditionally published. (No, there's no law against publishing a work for which the first publication rights are used up, but few publishers are going to unless that work has already seen dramatic success.)
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As others have pointed out: You have not even begun the writing process yet to complete your novel. Depending on its length and complexity, and how skilled and efficient you are, it may take months to a year or more before it's finished. You might learn that your first novel, once finished isn't ready for prime time and needs serious revision, or to be scrapped and a new novel needs to be attempted. Or our first effort might be a gem of sorts.

    In that time you'll learn a little more about the market (you can't write 100% of the time). Follow blogs of editors and publishers and authors (both published 'traditionally' and self-published, hang out at forums and other places where you might pick up reliable information.

    Rejection is part of the business. If you're sending a manuscript out there to publishers (or agents), there's a good chance it'll get rejected before someone offers you a contract (if a publisher offers you a contract). It may not find a home (other than by a vanity type of press that will publish anything). Rejection may also come via self-publishing. The novel may fall into obscurity, and it may garner some harsh--even legitimately critical reviews by readers (that can happen no matter which way your work reaches publication--it's another part of the business).

    You'll need to decide upon 'control' and what exactly that means. I am not sure you fully grasp working with an agent/editor/publisher yet.

    Whether you manage to find a publisher or you self-publish, neither route guarantees garnering a strong readership. And neither signals failure. Your career and writing could flourish either route, or even a 'hybrid' route, where you go with a publisher for some projects and go it alone with others.

    In any case, don't burn creative energy stressing over the exact direction at this point. Put that energy into writing. Learn about what it would take to be a successful self-publisher. It's far more than just getting your work 'out there'. And learn a little about traditional publishing as well. It's can be fraught with some pitfalls if an author doesn't know what to lookout for.

    Good luck and press forward relentlessly. It's the only way you can you have a chance to succeed.
     
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  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    It's been said that a writer's first million words are practice. So, I'll echo @TWErvin2 - don't even worry about it at this point. You're at Step One - the concept - of a process that has, say 200 steps. You're worrying about Step 175. Focus on making the novel as good as it can be. Think about your characters, their crises, conflicts, strengths and weaknesses. Think about how you want your story to unfold. You'll have dozens of decisions to make in terms of style and technique. You may have research to do. And you have to learn to critique yourself (the Writing Workshop here will give you the chance to hone that particular skill by critiquing others).

    In the meantime, welcome to the forum. Think of it as an online study group. A few of us, like TWErvin2, are published writers, but most of us are, like me, still in the "aspiring" category.

    Best of luck.
     
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  8. J.C.O. Goss
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    J.C.O. Goss New Member

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    Thanks, everybody. I hadn't really thought of it that way. I always tend to try to think too far ahead and worry about stuff I don't understand. I guess I'll deal with all the publishing stuff when it comes time to publish.

    I'm prepared to get rejected, and honestly up 'til recently I wasn't even going to publish just because I didn't think I'd meet any success at all, and while I dream of making a living off of it and etc, I'll still be content if even one person likes what I put out there.
     
  9. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Aim high, expect low. :)
     
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  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto all the dittos of thirdwind's advice to not even think about publishing till you have a completed ms to offer...
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    BTW, @mammamaia is another excellent resource for advice.
     
  12. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    My personal opinion to this (and what I'll be doing soon, hopefully) is to try for traditional publishing first. I've got nothing against self publishing, but I personally am in school with college coming in two years and I wouldn't have the time to market 24/7 as needed with self publishing. I'm going to hit the publishing houses first, and if they don't take me I'll self publish. I'm okay with it either way. But that's the way I'm going.

    But yeah. Finish the work before focusing on publishing.
     
  13. swhibs123
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    swhibs123 Active Member

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    I don't necessarily think you need to wait until you're done writing to think about publishing options, and I don't think you need to try for the trade route first either. BUT, and this is a big BUT, if you want a trade contract, and think the best way to get it is to self-publish first, you're mistaken.

    There are loads of things to learn. As you write, do your research. Read blogs, read articles, research the publishing process. Learn everything you can about BOTH sides. Too often I see SP authors who just don't understand the trade side, and b/c of that ignorance, they're hindered. There are pros and cons to both trade and self publishing.

    Ask a lot of questions.

    Good luck!
     
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  14. sunsplash
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    sunsplash Bona fide beach bum

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    I'll echo everyone else that suggests waiting until you've actually completed, or at least written and begun editing, before worrying about publication routes. I made the same mistake myself...got caught up in my own ambition and dream before penning a single word, and really, writing takes so much effort to do well, especially in the beginning, that your focus needs to be on that. There's nothing wrong with educating yourself about the choices you'll have in the end, but to try and pick now just isn't worth the stress. Once you have your product, you'll be able to better decide which path is most suitable for your particular MS. Good luck!
     
  15. Ulramar
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    Ulramar Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm just gonna beat the dead horse again and say yeah, don't think about publishing until you're almost done writing.

    Before starting the current draft of my manuscript (the one I'm gonna try to get published) I went and looked at publishing options. First: everything I found was inaccurate compared to what I've found in the week I've been prowling these forums. Second: I got myself diluted on the idea of getting published (and assumed it wasn't hard, either). Now that I've learned it's not as easy, and I gave myself the idea and the dream, it's going to hurt when I end up not published.
     
  16. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I echo all the previous advice - write the novel first, worrying about everything else is just daydreaming and procrastination.

    I just wanted to add, and please don't take it personally because this is a general comment, but there's oceans of crap self-published stuff, by people who are simply abusing (not intentionally, more because of overt enthusiasm and need for validation) the fact that one can self-publish whatever they want. In the past, people had no choice but to try hard to master the craft and write a novel worth reading, because if they didn't, nobody would get to see it. Self-publishing was meant to take the luck factor out of publishing, since we all know how capricious traditional publishers are. But it wasn't supposed to be the outlet for unfinished and grossly substandard work.

    Now, a three year old can scribble nonsense and their doting parent can self-publish it, and thus add to the creative sewage readers need to wade through in order to find those precious few novels that were actually worthwhile the digital information they...well, this metaphor is going nowhere because I was gonna say 'paper they were printed on' and it just went downhill from there. But you know what I mean.

    Anyway, obviously it's up to you, but I would advise you to worry about producing a novel that isn't a total waste of readers time. If this is your first attempt, then it'll take you two to three more before you can hope to achieve this. They say a million words before we are capable of producing a worthwhile manuscript. I would prefer to see anyone do this, then just trigger-finger self publish as soon as their first draft was out on paper
     
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  17. J.C.O. Goss
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    J.C.O. Goss New Member

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    I appreciate the advice, and I don't mean to sound cocky because I have little actual expectations from my first novel, but this is only the first thing I've intended to publish. I've been writing, steadily, for 8 years. Though I may not meet any success with the first novel, I doubt it'll be a "waste of the readers'" time. I'm meticulous as hell, so it'll be thoroughly edited before it's published.

    I mean, like I said, I know I'm new to the craft and I might not make many or any sales, but if it isn't good enough to publish I won't publish it. Even if I don't go to a traditional publisher for it, I'm by far my own harshest critic, but just to clarify in case you assume (as I probably would in your shoes) that I'll think my work is good enough on merit of my having done it, it will also go through a number of (much more talented than me) writer friends for critique, even if I do go through traditional publishing and can expect their harsh standards.

    That aside, though, thank you, and everybody else, for the advice, and don't think it will go unheeded.
     
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  18. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    @J.C.O. Goss : That's great, because it sounds like you thought about all this already. This is why I said not to take it personally, because I didn't know what your situation was. :)
     
  19. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    I think there is a strong belief that traditional publishing is somehow better simply because it's traditional.

    I had this belief as well, thinking that traditional is better and offers more success. The truth is that the market is changing, and self-publishing not only offers more profits and quicker downloads (whereas traditionally you need to go to the store or wait for delivery) but rejection is no longer a problem.

    Think about it. Traditional publishing is just a small group of people who decide if you're story is worth publishing or not - they represent not even 1% of the population of readers. Some of the best authors to date have been rejected so many times, and yet their stories thrive. Self-publishing eliminates this unnecessary and time-consuming step.

    Keep in mind that not everyone who wants to publish also wants to make a career out of it. Some just want to share their story, or write a book for a small scale profit. E-publishing allows this without the lengthy process of going through traditional publishing.
     
  20. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It offers a higher *percentage* profit per copy sold. But eighty percent of ten sales is a lot less than ten percent of a thousand, especially when the sales price for those ten is likely to be lower.
     
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  21. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    But does traditional publishing promise more sales than self-publishing? A self-published author can also advertise and promote and hire others to help do the same, and this may still be more profitable.
     
  22. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    It's a safer bet that a house knows how to market and what will sell well enough for them to also make a profit. Houses are a money making business so the risk on the author
    'S part is very minimal. He will sell and have the exposition he needs.

    In self-publishing, it's YOU making the decision that your manuscript is good enough to be a book whether you got enough experience to decide that or not. Then there is costs of marketing and whatnot.

    Basically, a traditional house doesn't guarantee more money but it's a lot safer and more likely you will sell just as well as you would have if you self-published if not slightly better.
     
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  23. Larissa Redeker
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    Larissa Redeker Active Member

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    I have a question: you have good traditional publishers to send your manuscript? So, send to them.

    I choose to go through self-publishing, but because in my country good publishers are rare. The big and medium ones want works only from foreign and/or famous authors. The small ones, those that accept manuscripts from "normal" authors are printing services, not publishers. If I publish with one of these, I 'll have my book with then for two years, making all the promotion job I will make if I go as self, and without knowing if the sales reports are real, seeing my book released with typos (errors made by the publisher in the back cover and in the text, not from me) and a bad cover, so, to me, it isn't a safe way. And, in the most cases, I'll need to pay to publish the book. Self is better for me, I'll need to take all the risks, but I'll know what's going on with my book. I cannot send my manuscript to foreign publishers because my English isn't good enough to write a book.

    If you write well, have a good work and can send to a lot of traditional publishers, send it. Take a chance in the traditional path. Go to self if you don't have an alternative.
     
  24. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I find that doubtful. The self-published author would have to do several jobs in addition to being an author--several jobs that each involve study and experience. Or he'd have to hire someone to do those jobs, thus risking a substantial loss on the effort. And he would lack the connections that the traditional publisher has.

    And, most importantly, there is no assurance whatsoever that a self-published work meets even a minimum standard of quality. I've bought several self-published books, and I regretted every single purchase. Even the competently written ones were no more than competently written.

    I'm motivated to support indie music because the terms of traditional music publishing strike me as wildly unfair. I don't have that reaction to the terms of traditional book publishing, so I have no motivation to go out of my way and sacrifice my time in trying to find the occasional gold nugget in the river of self-published works. So I'm not going to.
     
  25. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    ^ I've read some very poorly written books in print that I bought at traditional bookstores. This kind of publishing doesn't guarantee quality.
     

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