1. Turniphead
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    Turniphead Member

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    Hi all. Major differences between self-pub and traditional?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Turniphead, Sep 27, 2014.

    Hi, I'm new here, so hi again.

    I've read a lot about self-publishign. But cant find the big differences between the traditional route and doing it yourself. If I have excellent cover design and my own budget for PR, what am I losing out on by not going the long haul option?

    As far as I can see, publishers have good editors, and are better with international promotion. And that seems to be it.

    Are there any other disadvantages for self-publishing, with a good PR budget?

    Many thanks

    And it's good to be a part of this forum.

    Turniphead.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Self-publishing mostly gets you access to the e-book market. Chain book stores won't carry your book, nor will independent book stores unless you approach them personally and request it, and even then they may not. Your print books will likely be POD, which are improving in quality but still tend to look cheap and fall apart easily.

    So, if you're interested in print books, self-publishing is really not a good option.

    Even for e-books, I've read that a significant number of readers chose books by browsing at physical book stores and then buying online, so having book store placement is effectively free advertising for your e-book.

    In e-books the field is MORE level, but there are still a LOT of e-books out there and it's very difficult to distinguish your book, however good it is, from the crowd. A lot of people find their e-books via reviews (whether in magazines, newspapers, or blogs), and these reviews are easier to get for books from a publisher. Your book will also be included in the publisher's catalogue and website, which can be very effective marketing tools. There's a lot of talk about publishers not doing any advertising for their books any more, but this ignores the significant passive advantages that come just from being part of a big publisher's catalogue.

    And while some self-publishing evangelists suggest that the stigma of self-publishing is gone, I would suggest that it faded for a while and is now coming back. There is just SO MUCH CRAP being self-published. It's really hard to convince people that YOUR book is the exception and deserves anyone's attention. I know I will now only buy a self-published book if it has good reviews from someone I trust, rather than just a few glowing comments on Amazon.

    I'm not against self-publishing. I think it absolutely has a time and a place; I've self-published in the past and plan to do so again in the future. But there are significant advantages to using a publisher, well beyond international marketing and editing.
     
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  3. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not sure I agree with that - I self-published a flash-fiction collection a while ago using CreateSpace, and the production quality's as good as pretty much any trade paperback I've seen.

    That said, there's definitely things you're losing out on. There's a BIG difference between having a PR budget and knowing how to spend it, and there's also the time factor. I'm pretty lucky, I've got money to spend on marketing. I still haven't done much, because it takes up a significant chunk of my life, and I need to spend that time on my real job. Unless you're thinking of actually making publishing your job, finding time's likely to be a struggle.

    So if you do self-publish, I think you need to have good reasons for doing so.

    My reasons for self-publishing were:

    1. I'd already put all the stories on a blog, and I couldn't see a trad publisher being interested in something that's already available for free

    2. Even if that wasn't true, flash fiction is pretty damn niche

    3. It looked like a fun thing to try

    I didn't self-publish because I thought I would make more money. I've sold more books than I expected, and I'm still significantly down on advertising and production costs. That's OK, I never really expected to turn a profit. But if you DO want to make money, you need to think of it as a business and be prepared to put in all the legwork.
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, even if we agree to disagree on the quality of POD binding, are you still saying you disagree with the second sentence you quoted, that self-publishing isn't a good option for print books? I'd say that even if the POD quality is high, you're still going to be stuck hand-selling the books, b/c you won't have book store distribution.
     
  5. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sure, but how is that different to self-publishing e-books? If you don't want to be hand-selling your books, you shouldn't be self-publishing to begin with.

    I've actually found people far more keen on buying the print version than the the e-book collections I've put out, though I suspect a chunk of that is to do with the short-story-collection format of the book.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've sold a few thousand copies of one of my self-pubbed e-books just by posting it and standing back. It was in a sub-genre where I already had a name, so it's not the same as a totally new writer putting a book out, but still. A few thousand copies of the e-book compared to less than ten copies of the POD version. I think self-pubbed e-books are a lot more discoverable than self-pubbed print books.
     
  7. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, we both know that's not happening to a new writer unless they get really lucky.

    I think self-pubbed e-books are exactly as discoverable as self-pubbed print books when you're starting from 0, which - though I may be reading the post wrong - it sounds like the OP is. Go to an Amazon listing, it'll give you all the purchase options for any given title. Most people will buy the eBook if one's available because it's cheaper, but that doesn't mean less of them will find the print version, or that you'd get less people finding your print book if the eBook didn't exist.
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    That makes sense. I guess what I meant was that the gap between self-pubbed and trad-pubbed is bigger in print than in e-book? I mean, a self-pubbed e-book is going to at least be available in all the stores where people usually buy e-books. Still at a disadvantage vs. trad-pubbed books, but at least available.

    A self-pubbed print book won't even be available in physical book stores. So the gap there seems like it's bigger than in e-books.
     
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  9. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    That I can agree with.
     
  10. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think one big difference between self-publishing and trade publishing is the 'investment' by the author in time, money, and risk. Few individuals can afford to hire the professional level editors and artists needed to bring their book up to overall trade publisher quality (and few individuals have the talent and business savvy to do these things well). There's also the time spent on marketing and advertising, and trying to find reviewers of significant enough reputation to catch readers' attention. Lack of knowledge or business acumen can doom a book that otherwise would have done really well.

    My personal opinion is that the majority of self-published authors don't have the success of trade published authors because they don't know publishing well enough. They don't understand the amount of work needed, not only on the business end but on the book itself. They assume it's "easy" to self-publish, and thus they do things the easy way - to their own detriment as well as their book's.
     
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  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    It's really hard to be noticed in the world of self publishing. And everything falls on you - it's up to you to come up with a cover, to format the story for e-book ( or physical copy ) , to edit, to come up with a decent blurb, to choose the right category and to get the word out. It seems like a small, insignificant list - until you actually try and do it.

    With publishers, they take on all that responsibility. And they have a top notch crew to get it done.

    I will say this though if your goal is to be traditionally published, go for it - don't stop. But if you don't mind learning the in's and outs of self published - know that there's a lot of work ahead of you if you want to be successful - go for it.

    I was reading about this one woman on the internet whose book had sold to a traditional publisher. Her book had even made the rounds to certain popular authors for buzz phrases - you know when Stephen King says I couldn't put it down and its plastered on the latest Kootz book ( well earlier Kootz .) The publishers were all set to publish and then some legal snag cropped up and they decided not to publish the book. The woman had jumped the gun and thought she'd be successful ( I guess it was going to be part of a series ) and quit her job and moved. Trapped, she decided to self publish and had to buy back the rights to her book. It seems like she does okay now or at least well enough to make a living. One good thing though came out of it - she knew her book was good enough to be published through a traditional publisher, which can only happen when you send it off to a publisher.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2014
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  12. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    It is hard. It's also a massive learning curve, one that both frustrates you to the limit and also leaves you feeling euphoric at your achievement.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, to play devil's advocate:

    How many experienced publishing professionals, with a number of successful books under their belt, have agreed that the cover design is excellent--not just as art, but also as a marketing tool for a book in the book's specific niche, being marketed in the specific way that the book is being marketed?

    And how many experienced publishing professionals, successful, belt, blah, have given input on the PR plan and agree that it is an appropriate one for the work in question?

    This leaves out all of the other experienced publishing professionals that would likely be involved in a traditionally published book and not in a self-published one.
     
  14. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Whichever way you do it, book publishing is a gamble.

    It's just that in traditional publishing, the odds are stacked in your favour.
     
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  15. cynthia_1968
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    cynthia_1968 Active Member

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    I would say: try to see if you can find a publisher for your book. If you don't succeed then go for self publishing.
     
  16. Turniphead
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    Turniphead Member

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    Hi and thanks a lot for all the replies.

    Sorry to repsond late to this. I think a lot of this makes sense. But what comes across in this debate, is that if you have time, are willing to work, and have saved some cash self-pub could be ok. I am going to try the trad route first, but only to 10 agents. If i get rejected I'll self pub.

    There is a new 'mid' option. I found a small publishing company, who will distribute to bookstores and advise on cover design and title, and give the author 85% of royalties, with no lump sum upfront.

    IMO PR is everything; this includes cover, distribution, marketing and promotion + title etc.
    If you learn enough about these things and find a really good PR, then I think self-pub might be ok.
    I worry that unless I land a big publisher, they may not do enough.

    I had a friend who landed a deal with a v big publisher; they marketed her book - posters on the Underground and everything. Only trouble was - they made a mistake and the book hadn't come out when the PR campaign had started, so no-one could buy the book!

    AnywayTYVM for all your ideas on this.


    Turniphead
     
  17. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Turniphead,
    You've probably researched and know this, but I'm going to comment on it for others that may read this thread in the future.

    Publishers occasionally blur terms. Distribution is more than making books available for order (through Ingram or Baker & Tayor, for example), or placing books in a catalogue which is distributed/sent to bookstores to order stock from, if they choose. There are publishers that tout such as 'distribution'.

    Distribution, where there is a sales force (people) that markets and gains placement in bookstores--both chain (which is basically B&N, and maybe Books a Million) and independent bookstores. Harder nuts to crack would be places like Wal-mart and Meijer, etc.

    If this is to happen, most of the time print books need to be offset printed and warehoused to make it economically feasible. POD (print on demand) can have this option, but it's generally not profitable, even if feasible. A book needs to be 'returnable' if a brick and mortar store is going to order it/put it on the shelf. Sure, it sometimes happen when a book isn't returnable, but very rarely and usually on a very limited basis. And returnable PODs are expensive (like through Lightning Source) and thus can end up costing more than can be earned. A small publisher could take a hit for thousands of dollars (or more) if one book is distributed and placed that is a POD title. With some POD contracts for returnable, a publisher would need to sell 3-4 copies for each one 'returned' just to break even. That's a losing formula.
     
  18. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you're only going to submit to 10 agents, you might as well save your effort and self-pub. Ten is nowhere near a 'fair' attempt at getting trade published. Two agents are already dealing with a full stable of writers; three agents didn't like your query letter; four agents no longer deal with your genre; one agent accidentally deletes your email. Dead in the water and no one's even seen your work. Doesn't make much sense, does it?
     
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  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    That scenario doesn't allow for the possibility--the extremely likely possibility, for any unpublished writer-- that your book is not of professional quality, and needs polishing. If you never slog it out, improving your book and improving your book, but always give up and self-publish, you may never write a high quality book. You are short-circuiting your writing career.

    This sounds like the worst of both worlds--it sounds like vanity publishing, which is worse than self-publishing. Self-publishing usually involves no lump sum up front, so you're giving these people fifteen percent, and probably some partial control over your exercise of your copyright, for their advice on cover design and title. "Distribute to bookstores" has no meaning--a bookstore isn't going to accept just any old book that hasn't gone through some selection process.
     
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  20. Turniphead
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    Turniphead Member

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    Thanks for this and it could be true, but how many should I approach? Thx also for the advice on the 85% guys. But they have published some authors who have turned away from trad pub houses. They have also published some 'successful' writers. But it's very interesting that the general feedback is to really whack the trad route. This is very interesting, as I have (maybe mistakingly) been led to believe that with a good PR budget, there's not much difference between the two routes. So some great stuff here for me - thanks a lot!

    One more thing - what about very small trad publishing houses? Are they any good or worse than self-pub?


    Turniphead
     
  21. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with shadowwalker and chickenfreak - subbing to ten agents doesn't make sense.

    It just seems really fatalistic. If you want to go the agent and publisher route, great, go that route. Submit to ten agents, then refine your query if needed and submit to ten more, and keep going until you've gone through all the relevant and reputable possibilities. Then, if there's no interest, consider self-pubbing.

    If you want to self-publish, do it now.

    This 'submit to ten publishers' thing is strange.

    Re: your more recent post: You've "been led to believe that with a good PR budget there's not much difference between the two routes"? Nothing on this thread would suggest that, would it? I think every post has said there are significant differences. So where else are you reading about this?
     
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  22. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I submitted the true story to 25 different agents/publishers, and only had thirteen replies so on one hand, don't sit back and wait for replies from everyone you submit to.

    Also, from the replies that you do get, see if you can find out why they rejected your work (if they rejected it) as this could help you to change/improve it before submitting to the next person.

    I would advise submitting to at least fifteen but in blocks of five every few weeks.

    One of the massive differences is that with self-publishing, anyone can publish anything, even a grocery list which has led to the publication of a lot of rubbish. Some readers are now disillusioned to the point that they will not even consider reading anything that is self published anymore.

    But in a world of 7 billion people ... don't give up!
     
  23. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's basically my plan. I looked up marketing a few days ago and crikey, the amount of work you need to put in to make sure people even know about your book! My co-author would like to self-pub right away because she's tired of waiting for responses (she's tried many times in the past and had several near-successes) - but I'm still holding out for an agent. She's not pushing me to hurry up - she's just waiting for me to give up and give in to self-pubbing lol. She thinks our book could sell and we could promote it ourselves, but, seriously? I'm not sure I have the time to market the book properly, and she definitely doesn't.

    For those interested though, if I do self-pub, I intend on doing some of the things on this list:
    http://www.yourwriterplatform.com/promote-and-market-your-book/
     
  24. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I really don't think most first time self-publishers truly understand the work involved IF they want to do justice to all the hard work they did writing.
     
  25. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Focusing on PR completely ignores the issue of the quality of the book itself. A book isn't an empty package; the words inside it matter. And involving a professional editor who has been involved with many successful books is likely to lead to a much better set of words than a writer who has never been involved with even one.
     

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