1. M.A.

    M.A. Member

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    Traditional vs. self-publish when writing a series

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by M.A., Dec 8, 2019.

    I'm currently in the process of deciding on going the traditional or self-publishing route with my manuscript. But I am unclear on one aspect. If a traditional publisher were to take on a book that is the first in a planned series, what happens if they for whatever reason don't want to publish book 2, such as if book 1 doesn't sell well (which of course is a very real possitibilty)?
    I've seen alot of different opinions on this, ranging from "that's not a problem" to "the publisher will never let you self-publish a book 2, so you might as well forget about the whole world you've created". I was hoping someone here had some insight on this, because this could esily be the deal-braker that makes me go with self-publishing.

    Also, I have a somewhat related question. Are there any genres that are perticularly good or bad for self-publishing? My own manuscript is a fantasy-novel, and it would be nice to know if fantasy-readers are a good market on self-publishing platforms or not.
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    This all comes down to what is in your contract with the publisher. They should not be acquiring the copyright in your story, characters, or world. If they want that (and that's something that could prevent you from ever selling book two on your own) look for another publisher. It's up to you to decide how many books you want to give the publisher rights (or an option, or whatever) to. Irrespective of that language, I would also make sure that if the publisher decides not to publish part of the series going forward the rights revert back to you as the author.

    As for self-pub, I think fantasy readers are more likely than some others to be willing to give a self-published book a shot. You have to figure out how to make the book stand out from the rest of what is on the market, however. I recommend not making it obvious that the book is self-published. Spend the money on editing and cover design.
     
    Transcendent_Traveler likes this.
  3. M.A.

    M.A. Member

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    That is a very thorough and enlightened answer. Thank you!

    I'm very much with you on spending oney on editing and cover design. While it can be difficult to set aside that kind of money, in the long run I think it would be worth it. And I think if you're going to charge readers for your work, then you should always ensure that it is as technically good as you can make it.
     
  4. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    Most traditional publishers, when signing a contract, will do so for more books in the series. They want things that sell and series sell. In fact, they will push you toward a series rather than individual stand-alone books most of the time, depending on genre. Of course, there's no guarantee in life and if you have a very long series, unless it sells well, they will almost certainly not produce anything beyond the contracted minimum, which is usually 2-3 books.
     
  5. More

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    A good publisher will have a number of skills . Editing , distribution, publicity and graphics to name just a few . Given the choice , I would prefer a publisher than self publish. It will cost more , but I don't have all the skills or time to replace a publisher. I would take one step at at time . If you would prefer a publisher , find one . If you find one , then worry about the series.
     
  6. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Active Member

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    Big disclaimer: I've got no experience with publishing. I could be or am probably very wrong.

    My understanding is that rights to the IP are usually given to the publisher in a typical contract. So there is definitely a possibility that if they choose not to publish the next installments, you're SOL for at least a period of time. This sort of makes sense, since any advert work they've done for the first book logically entitles them to some of the earnings from any successive works; the people who do read book 2 had to be sold book 1 first.

    Re: self publishing, I agree that quality is of utmost importance. The higher degree of control is good for people who are 100% sure their writing is good, refined, and at least has some kind of an audience. The author owes his patrons that much. The vast majority, however, get tempted to just "push it out there" and the slush festers. This leads to something special, though: publishers rely almost exclusively on proven qualities. Something can be good but get rejected because it won't meet the audience's expectations of its category. Not so when the author makes the call. Works that blasphemously step outside of their grounds, works that set trends as opposed to following them (and do it well), have a great chance of existing in the self-pub market these days. Again, though, they are very rare among the good enough.
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    trad publishing shouldn't cost you anything... never sign with any publisher who wants to charge you to publish your book - they should be providing editing, cover etc as pat of what they do in exchange for most of the royalty.

    the other thing to bear in mind is that trad publishers are hugely oversubscribed, you may not be able to get a deal even with the best written book in the world if it isnt quite what they are looking for right at that moment
     
  8. More

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    You seem have misunderstood the concept of cost . It is true , you should not hand over cash to a publisher. But in the end , it WI'll possibly cost you a lot more than self publishing . It is better to see publishers as partners that has benefits to both .
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  9. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I have misplaced my pants.... Contributor

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    How you figure?
     
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    If trad publishing costs more than self publishing you should be self publishing... this 'regard the publisher as a partner' stuff sounds like fluff put out by bad publishers to excuse them not doing their part

    I self publish, but if a trad house said that to me i'd say 'so we're splitting royalties 50/50 then ?'

    If they are taking 90% of print and 75% of e they should also be picking up most of the costs
     
  11. More

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    I don't understand what point your trying to make .
    Of course publishing is a business and writers will have a business relation ship with them . The norm in publishing is to pay ten to twelve percent of the royalties of printed books and about twenty five percent for E books . We are talking about traditional publishers that will do everything to turn a manuscript in to a product available in a book shop. Your demand for 50/50 split,is saying you will never use a traditional publisher.
    If you did consider using a traditional publisher, are you saying that, considering them as a partnership is a bad thing ? what relationship would you prefer ?
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  12. N.Scott

    N.Scott Member

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    By it will cost more, do you mean that trad publishing would take more share of the royalties, thus eventually you'll be better off financially to go with the self-publish? Providing the book does indeed sell well of course.
     
  13. More

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    It is true , my post is a dogs diner .
    The point I was struggling with is. You can self publish and possibly make a bigger percentage of profits from sales . As big moose has pointed out .
    However,the top 10 books on Amazon have been published by traditional publishers. Most of the top ten writers have been published by traditional publishers. So , you might be loosing out on profits , but it is in exchange for much larger sales . Writing a book is only part of the product on the selves . It is easy for writers to underestimate the publishers role and the value they can bring to a book.
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2020
  14. More

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    I don't know if you would be better off by self publishing . I do know publishers consider themselves as skilled professionals. If your able to be a writer and publisher, than yes self publish. If you just want to be a writer , and you have the skill to write a publishable book , let the publisher do the job for you , and spend your time on your next book.
     
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  15. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Active Member

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    The submission game for traditional takes a lot of time for some. Time = money.
     
  16. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    AKA a 'revert-back' clause, or 'revocability'.

    The idea being the publisher needs to 'use it or lose it' within X number of years.
     
  17. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    I've been getting the opposite answer when I asked the exact same question, so now I'm not sure what's currently true in publishing.

    I've been consistently told to create and ultimately pitch my first book as a standalone, even though I know the long term plan is for it to be the first in a series. ie that publishers aren't buying series even though they might pan out nicely over time, because so many first books just don't sell anyways, and they don't want to do staggered launches &c &c &c.

    A possibility: if the publisher decided the first book isn't selling enough to pick up the rest of the series, you can probably buy the rights back and self publish the whole series. I don't think there's any chance of doing it while the publisher still has the licensing for the first book, though.

    Note: this almost never works in the other direction. If you've first rights self published book 1, and it bombs, I've never heard of a case where trad would pick it up. In fact, even if it does super well, like hundreds of thousands of copies, there's a one in a million chance trad will want to publish the series.
     
  18. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    so in what way would such a deal cost the author more than self publishing ?

    As to what relationship i'd expect i'd expect a business relationship of writer and publisher, not one in which they pushed functions traditionally theirs on to me in the guise of partnership.

    I self publish through choice but I've never come across a legit trad deal which costs the author money (as opposed to vanity deals)
     
  19. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    I think that's the important word there: "legit" - there's a lot of vanity presses that portray themselves as publishers and claim to be splitting costs, but they're just charging the author the full cost plus markup for themselves, and lying about it. PsOS.

    The only scenarios where I see trad publishing costing more in actual cash than self pub is screwups. Say there was a chance of profit from self pub no matter how small and the trad ran out their contract period without doing anythig with the IP. This is the value of a revocable period, like, maybe 2 years of total inaction on a 5 year publishing license invalidates it. I have even heard of scenarios where publishers bought IP to deliberately suppress it in order to clear the launch date for their own properties. I'm pretty sure that's actionable if identified, but what author has the money. Better to use a good contract up front instead.
     
  20. More

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    We are coming around agine . I think I will leve it there .
     
  21. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    If it costs you anything... ANYTHING... then it's a rip-off and you should run away. Money always flows to the author, never away. If your publisher ever asks you for a red cent, then it's a scam and tell them where they can go. Big, small, it doesn't matter. No legitimate publisher works that way.
     
  22. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    thats what I said the higher up - I never did get an example of what these legitimate costs supposedly are
     
  23. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    The only thing I've had publishers say they expect me to spend money/time on is author branding. Website, mailing list, social media presence, maybe even advertising if I wanted. But I'm not writing *them* these cheques - it goes to third parties.
     
  24. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    and doing that wouldn't 'cost more than self publishing' since self publishers also have to build their brand (if they want to actually sell books)
     
  25. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    Arguably less, yep.

    But I am willing to accept that delay can carry a cost, but it's not money transferred from the author to the publisher. Just opportunity cost.
     

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