1. Twritestuff

    Twritestuff New Member

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    Self Publish or Traditional

    Discussion in 'Traditional Publishing' started by Twritestuff, Sep 18, 2017.

    Hi,
    I'm new to this forum and this is my first post.
    I'm sorry if this question has been answered many time before, If it has please redirect me. I have completed my first manuscript and I'm considering the process of publishing. The more I read, the more confused I become.

    I understand having a book traditionally published is difficult, and if the book gets selected it's a rarity, but is it worth the effort considering the small advances and royalties?

    Self publishing interests me, but making my novel discoverable against the millions of e-books appears to be a difficult task.

    So for a person who wants to have a chance of making some money, and once again, I appreciate how difficult it is to make money, can you advise your preferred option, traditional or self publish.
     
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  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Most self-published books sell fewer than 15 copies (or maybe it's 12... I forget the actual figure). Trad published books, even from small presses, should sell a few thousand. Self-published books are also generally priced much lower to attract buyers, because self-publishers don't have the marketing power of publishers.

    If you want to make money, the maths is pretty simple:

    15 x 100% of $0.99 or 2,000 x 30% of $3.99 + an advance of $1000

    All numbers guesstimates of course. Raise the price of your self-published book and lower your advance and the maths will still be quite clear.

    Of course, there are outliers. You might be the one in a million that sells several thousand of your self-published book. But you have to ask yourself why many of those runaway successes either built their name via traditional publishing (J A Konrath) or gave up self-publishing for a trad deal (Amanda Hocking, Andy Weir).

    As you say, many books aren't selected for traditional publishing, and self-publishing is their only option. But if trad interests you, then always try that first: query agents, and if you don't get an agent submit directly to publishers, and if you don't get a deal then self-publish. Generally, you can't do it the other way around - good agents and publishers generally won't consider self-published books.

    There are exceptions. But in publishing, as in most things, you're a fool to count on being an exception.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I agree with @Tenderiser's post, but just wanted to point out that the advance wouldn't be in ADDITION to the royalties. The advance has to be earned out before any royalties are received.

    (Also, in my experience, $1K advances are pretty unusual. The really small publishers (e-first or e-only type) rarely give an advance at all, while the larger publishers give larger advances but lower royalty rates (on higher sales).

    I'd agree with the general gist of the post, though. Start with trying to get an agent and selling to the Big Five; if you can't get an agent, directly approach smaller publishers who don't require agents; if you have no luck there, consider self-publishing, but possibly under a pseudonym so you can leave the book behind if it turns out the agents/publishers were right and your writing isn't ready for publication yet.
     
  4. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Keep in mind too that if you self-publish, many of the costs that publishers pick up for their authors will be on you and will greatly subtract from your bottom line. Professional editing, cover art, print and electronic production of the book, marketing, etc. - it all adds up and is time consuming as well as expensive. Even if you were to get a larger income from self-publishing, I don't think it would be difficult to see expenses outgrow them relatively quickly.

    My publisher earns every dime of the cut they take from my book sales. Personally I wouldn't self-pub unless there was no other alternative.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2017
  5. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    To be honest, the best way that I've personally found make money writing is by sending short stories to fiction magazines. Asimov's Science Fiction pays 8-10 cents a word, and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine pays 5 -8 cents a word. Which means that, if accepted, a 5,000 word story could net you between 250 and 500 dollars. It's not, like, huge, but it is money and its a good way to get your foot in the door. I hear some agents like previous publishing history. For novels, self published or traditionally published, it's still going to be a lot of hard work to make any money, it just depends on what kind of work you think you're best at. They both kind of require a different skill set.
     
  6. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Have you sold work to these magazines? If so, do they require submissions through an agent?
     
  7. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Yes, I have, and no, they don't. They actually have submission guidelines on their websites.
     
  8. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Thanks for pointing this out. I've just submitted a story to the EQMM site, and noticed that they didn't provide any information on payment, first serial rights, etc. Am I right in presuming that all this will be discussed after the story is accepted, and that a contract will be made before the story is published?
     
  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Joanna Penn is a firm advocate of the self (or as she terms it indy) publishing model .... her argument is that for the self published author its about the long tail not the big start (wheras trad is the opposite) and that the key to making money is a) to use your books in different ways e.g e, print, e box sets, audible, relaunches etc , and b) to have a lot of work out there... if you have twenty books you don't need very much on each one to make a decent income .... she reckons she is making 6 figures from her books this year.

    In regard of the 'on average the self publisher only sells 15 copies' thing, I think this is like the "people only lived to 40 in the dark ages" theory... that is people actually lived much longer but the average is skewed by infant mortality .... in this case the average is skewed by the number of self pubbed books which are either utter crap or don't have any effort put into their marketing beyond banging a kindle version on amazon and subsequently don't sell anything. Which would suggest that if your book is good, well edited, professionally produced with a decent cover and marketed well there's no reason you can't sell a decent number of copies and make the 'indy' model work
     
  10. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    Let me correct that for you: 15 x 100% of $0.99, or 0 x 30% of $3.99, because the vast majority of people submitting books to trade publishers don't sell a single copy, whereas the vast majority of self-publsihed books sell at least a handful.

    This is the usual flaw in these arguments. Most self-published books make at least a little money, whereas trade publishers only publish something like 1% of the books submitted to them. The other 99% make nothing at all.

    Ultimately, I would say go trade publisher if you think you might be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, because you'll never get there by self-publishing. Or if the publisher will give your book enough of a marketing budget to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, just publish it yourself.
     
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I'm sorry but that's rubbish - most books on a trad publishing deal will outsell most self pubbed books

    If you are talking about rejected books - those books arent on a trad publishing deal and could be self pubbed if the author wanted after they were rejected (if they are any good of course)
     
  12. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    Again, most books submitted to a trade publisher sell 0 copies, because the publisher won't buy the book.

    Many of those books end up self-published, where they earn a few bucks, and pull down the average sales numbers. The self-published books a trade publisher would have picked up if they had been submitted will generally earn a decent amount of money.

    So, the median income of a book submitted to a trade publisher is $0. The median income of a self-published book is probably at least $10.

    Comparing all self-published books to all trade-published books is like comparing apples to aardvarks.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    And will almost certainly earn more money if traditionally published. So if we're narrowing to the books that are good enough to be worth publishing and don't have some characteristic that makes them unpublishable (far too long, impossible genre, etc.), traditional publishing makes even more sense.
     
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  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    But the median income of a book accepted by a trad publisher isn't zero - including the rejected ones is ridiculous
     
  15. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    But people keep comparing them to all self-published books. Most of which would never have been accepted by a trade publisher.

    So, apples to aardvarks, like I said.
     
  16. Edward M. Grant

    Edward M. Grant Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not convinced, because there are plenty of counterexamples, where trade-published writers have got their rights back from their publisher and made more money by self-publishing those books.

    But it's an impossible question to answer, because there's currently no way to release the same book in two different universes and see how much they make through each route.
     
  17. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    End of the day rubbish won't sell (okay 50 shades might dispute that - but I digress - most rubbish won't sell) but if your book is good enough to be published you are better off with a trad pub deal if you can get one.

    If your book isnt good enough to be published you are better off not publishing it at all
     
  18. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    But that's a third category; it's not the equivalent of normal self-publishing. Those are people who have passed a quality bar, who have the learning and experience from being trade published, who have the reputation that comes from being trade published, and who, if they have any currently published books, are riding the wave of the promotion for those books.

    I think that I bought one of Dana Stabenow's "got the rights back" books from her Kate Shugak series, but that was totally as a result of buying other parts of that series from the publisher. And I might someday buy her Silk and Song books, but that will again be based on my awareness of her, and that awareness came from her traditionally published status.

    It is, but I think that it's unwise to think that self publishing a book as an unknown author is going to make you more money than traditionally publishing that same book. If it's traditionally publishable, that is almost certainly the right way to go.
     
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  19. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    Unless things have changed drastically since I last published, once you're accepted they'll get in touch with you and give you a rundown of rights and conditions as well as get your final blessing to publish.
     
  20. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    As many on this forum know, I'm a fan of self publishing ...for people like myself who write outwith popular modern genres, styles or length of book. Our alternatives are 1) self publishing, 2) don't get published at all, or 3) go away and write something else.

    However, if you feel you've written something that traditional publishers would like, then by all means seek traditional publishers. You should be able to tell if that's possible for you by trawling through agent advertisements and reading up on publishing houses. If any of them sound like a good fit for what you've written, by all means give them a try.

    If you succeed, then lots of your initial problems regarding payment and distribution will be solved. Traditional publishing houses won't continue to push your product forever, if it doesn't sell well, but at least that's your foot in the door. Go for it. You've got nothing to lose, really, except time. And that's not a bad thing, if the end result is a really good story that's honed to perfection.
     
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