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  1. A.P. Kadmus

    A.P. Kadmus New Member

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    Would you choose to self-pub over trad pub?

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by A.P. Kadmus, Jan 22, 2017.

    Here's a hypothetical: let's say you submitted a manuscript to 5 top tier literary agents. 2-3 of them were interested in representing you. You clearly have a good piece of work. Would you then go the self-publishing route, or traditional route and why?

    ETA: and let's assume you've no real platform. It's your first novel.
     
  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    This sounds like a total dreamland scenario. 3 offers of representation after 5 queries?

    Anyway, I would choose one of them to represent me and go traditional. Because I want people to read my books, and that is far more likely to happen with a traditionally published book.
     
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  3. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Trade. It doesn't really matter how good your work is if no one can find it, and there's a serious discoverability problem in self-publishing right now.

    If you already have a readership it may make sense to self-publish at least some of your work, but for a first-time author? The biggest publisher with the biggest promo department I can find.
     
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  4. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    Trade. I know zero about marketing and I'm not inclined to learn. With that in mind I might make less per book sold, but would probably sell orders of magnitude more copies.
     
  5. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's a no brainer. I'd go with trad publishing, of course. Quite honestly, I actually doubt very many of us would actively choose self-publishing if we knew a publishing house actually wanted to publish our book. Some "choose" self-publishing only because they don't even believe they stood a chance at being picked. Others "choose" self-publishing because they just wanna get their book out there, to say they have a book (that would actually be me), without having to wait and without the potential risk of the book simply never getting "out there". Between the chance of being read by one or two and not being read at all, I know what I'd choose. But even here it boils back down to the fact that on some level there's this belief that no one would ever actually pick you.

    Self-publishing can be a logical choice - I'm not saying it's for failures - but I am saying it's probably very rarely the good choice for one's own career. And it almost certainly isn't a good choice for someone without an existing fan base and platform. For an established author, though, self-pub could be a logical choice. When you self-publish, you're basically starting a business - you have something to sell and you need to get the word out there and get people to pay money for it. Too many of us writers are exactly just that - writers - we're not often businessmen too. Businesses with more sought-after commodity have gone bankrupt - and we're hoping to make it with a book without any business acumen. I've rarely seen someone go the self-publishing route who also has an active, functional business plan. Most of us wanna go the self-pub route investing as little money and as little time as possible - esp money. Many of us wouldn't even hire a proper cover artist. I guess, your book is worth as much money as you're willing to put in and when we go down the self-pub route, we're often really saying, "I don't think anyone would really pay money for this, and I'm probably never gonna make back anything I put into the book - in short, no one wants this! Let's put it out there anyway..."

    I've probably offended a whole host of people with this post... I'm not saying self-publishing is always a bad choice. But I think too often we choose this route for the wrong reason and without any real willingness to invest in what is essentially our own fledgling business.

    Anyway, to answer the question, definitely traditional publishing. I have no business acumen and have no desire to seriously study all the techniques and put time into networking and blogging and maintaining a social media presence and generating interest by going to book fairs and seminars and starting interesting stuff online. I don't have the money to pour into the book - I don't have the capital and if I did, I'd rather spend it on a car (don't currently have one but would love one). So, trad pub for me! Plus, I actually want my stuff read.
     
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  6. RikWriter

    RikWriter Member

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    If I were a first-time author, I'd definitely take traditional publishing because I would have no reader base and no real experience with self-publishing and the various markets. Now, after 5 years of experience in the self-publishing game, and after hearing what people get offered from small presses, I think I've made more money from self-publishing than I would have otherwise and in the unlikely event that a publisher came to me and wanted to print all of my current books and put them in stores, I'd have to deliberate quite a while before making that decision because I've just hit the point where I've got a pretty consistent income every single month.
     
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  7. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Absolutely traditional.

    Edited to add: Oh, the why. More readers, plus I'm not under the delusion that I have absolutely nothing to learn from the professionals in the field.
     
  8. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Trade definitely - I'm not adverse to the idea of self pub, but for me its what I'd do after I'd exhausted the trad option without getting a deal

    (why as per chicken, plus I want to spend my time writing as far as possible, not doing all my own marketting and promotion)
     
  9. writemare

    writemare Member

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    My plan is to self-publish at least two or three books and then attempt to find an agent.
     
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  10. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    I feel it is worth pointing out that no record is better than a bad record when it comes to looking for an agent. If your self pubbed stuff bombs, God forbid, it'll only harm your chances with landing an agent.

    Of course, you could hide those books, but it's more of a hassle.
     
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  11. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    Trade. Obv. The scenario you've outlined is basically:

    A) I will do a metric fuckton of work and invest a load of cash for little chance of reward.
    B) I will do a small amount of work for a far larger chance of reward.

    I can only ever imagine someone self-publishing in that scenario if they value total creative freedom massively above everything else.
     
  12. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Like others said, Trade. It offers the best opportunity to build an audience. That will open opportunities to self-publish, if that's the route you decide to take. A number of authors are hybrid, where, depending on the project, they self-publish or trade publish.
     
  13. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    If you have a choice, go traditional. After about 50 queries, and about 35 polite "no's" I went the self publishing route for one book, rather short story. It's not flying off the shelves. Marketing is a major challenge, and you are probably going to put more money into boosts, book signings and other means of gaining visibility, than you are going to make. Having said that, it also depends on whether you need the money or not, and your age. I am 68, and the time spent in seeking agents, to be followed by perhaps a year-long wait for the book to finally go to press, and the fact that it is too long for a first time author, all drove me to self-publish. At least it will be out there, and I can go on to other writing. I also don't need the money.
     
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  14. RikWriter

    RikWriter Member

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    What load of cash? I've never invested more than a few bucks into any of my books. As for the work, I haven't done much more than I would have being traditionally published, just had to do the editing and proofreading myself or with the help of some (volunteer) beta readers.
    And the larger chance of reward? Well, IF your book sells well, sure. There's no guarantee that will be the case.
     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Probably trade, starting out, with a slight chance of going self-published, but I'd have to be confident that the book was good enough to be the next big phenomenon in self-publishing. I've had a couple of agents interested in seeing my self-published children's book and decided not to go that route.
     
  16. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    Possibly you're uncommonly talented in all areas of book publishing. Normally people will have to spend some money on some combination of proofreading, editing, layout or cover design to get a product of decent standard.

    Yes, honey. That's what the word 'chance' means.
     
  17. RikWriter

    RikWriter Member

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    No, I don't think I am. That's the point. Self-publishers get so caught up in paying a bunch of money to make their book LOOK professional that I think they often forget the part about writing a book people actually want to read. Proofreading is easy. Tedious, but easy. Maybe I'm good at that since I helped friends in college with their essays. Cover design?
    ROFL! My current book has a cover which I designed by buying a $12 illustration from iStock and played with the colors a bit and put lettering on it in Photoshop. It hasn't stopped it from reaching the top 1000 books on Amazon and staying there for about a month. Now, I am a very ardent hobbyist photographer, so I do know my way around Photoshop, but I don't think it's any more than anyone else could do with a little practice.
    My first two books, I threw them on Amazon for 99 cents with covers I slapped together from free photos from the net because I didn't know any better at the time. I sold 30,000 copies in the first four months.
    It's good to have a nice, eye-catching cover, but it's not anywhere near as important as having a book people want to read in a genre that has hungry readers.
    Hungry readers are the most important thing. Space opera, military SF, cyberpunk, Space Marine...those are subgenres, as examples, that are underserved by traditional publishers. Epic fantasy to a lesser extent---it's served, but most current epic fantasy authors want to be the next George RR Martin and everything is incredibly grim and "realistic," which doesn't satisfy people who want the next Lord of the Rings.



    Do you find it necessary to be condescending?
     
  18. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    And if your book isn't in one of those genres?

    From what I've read here (this forum, not this thread specifically), most people don't want to get any story published. They want to write their story and have that published. They don't want to write military SF or Space Marine just because it happens to sell well.

    Possibly also worth noting, in the OPs scenario the book had already been accepted by a load of top-tier agents, so it's probably not in a genre underserved by traditional publishing.

    You sold a load of copies without much effort. Great. That's awesome for you, and while I realise my natural temperament veers quite heavily toward snark, I mean that sincerely. But I don't think that's true of everyone who self-pubs, or for the majority, or even for a significant minority. I think it's true for a very small number who get lucky.

    I wouldn't say necessary, but if you're going to come out with stuff like 'but it's not guaranteed' as if it's a refutation of 'there's a higher chance of X happening', then I'd be lying if I said I didn't find it at least a little entertaining.
     
  19. RikWriter

    RikWriter Member

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    There are others that sell well. But if you don't write or want to write in any of those genres, then self-publishing isn't for you.

    That wasn't the issue I was addressing, however. I was addressing the assertion that you'd have to lay out a lot of money.

    Yet I don't think that's the case. I don't think there are a lot of people who would sell a lot of books IF they had good editors and good covers and yadda yadda yadda, I think there are people whose books will sell well no matter what and people whose books won't sell no matter what. I think adding a nice cover and getting a professional editor might increase their sales a bit, but I don't think it's the difference between a book that sells a hundred copies a year and one that sells 10,000. That's in the writing.

    I wish it were reciprocal.
     
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  20. A.P. Kadmus

    A.P. Kadmus New Member

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    Ebooks are 1/2 the market, but publishers give you 1/4 of the royalties on it compared to self-pub (according to what I just heard at Brandon Sanderson's seminar).

    So unless the trade publisher does serious, major marketing, it's better to self-pub just based on numbers. You can learn how to format and upload to all mediums for free in just a few days (only designing the cover might take awhile and have some cost). And from what I heard, trade publishers don't really do any marketing at all for new authors.

    The argument for "but trade published authors perform better" is a false premise. The trade publishers get to choose the good from the bad. It's not them "making" it good. Tbh it seems like a racket.

    Also let's not forget the year of sales you could lose from waiting for a trade publisher to get around to putting it on sale.
     
  21. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Right. And people know that. And that's why they sell better.

    You're going to sell a lot better as good in a crowd of good, rather than good in an endless sea of bad.
     
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  22. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Nope. Most self-published books sell around a dozen copies. Even the worst performing traditionally-published books do better than that.

    You heard wrong.

    That's not a false premise.

    A year of sales for a SP'ed book = probably single figures. I can live with that.
     
  23. A.P. Kadmus

    A.P. Kadmus New Member

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    That's because the trade houses get to pick from the lot of ones that would do good even without their hands on it.

    I've "heard" that from Brandon Sanderson. He's very knowledgeable on the subject and said specifically the marketing budget for new authors with debut novels is about $100. If you're a success and do your own marketing and have your own platform, then they will set aside a budget for your next novel for a few thousand $$. Only established authors have any significant leverage in marketing over self-published.

    If you're making single digits from a self-published book then you'd make single digits in a trade pub too (if they took it). I have my own pub company (so technically a self-publisher) and published a book from a woman/friend who no trade publisher would take and the people I had edit it said it would never do well. It since has sold 15k copies at $6.99 (not counting the paperbacks) and shes been interviewed by George Noory and many other radio networks. Tho thats over the span of 3 years, it still has done well for her. If she were actually an author by profession she could make a living self-pubbing even tho no big trade publisher would find 5k book sales a year that attractive per book.

    Muggles don't care who publishes a book. People care if the cover and first pages are good. That's the #1 criteria. I've talked to readers and read forums on that specifically. If you're looking for prestige of being trade pubbed, then it's really only relevant to other authors. Readers do not care.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017
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  24. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    That's just not true. A book is far, far more likely to "do good" with a traditional publisher.

    As I said, this is not true.

    That's not true, largely because of your second false point: TP'ed books are marketed more effectively.

    Great.

    I'm a reader and I care - I don't buy SP'ed books after being burned too many times.

    Most readers don't know if a book is SP'ed or TP'ed. But they're far more likely to buy and recommend a TP'ed book. This is the part you seem to be missing from your assertions.
     
  25. A.P. Kadmus

    A.P. Kadmus New Member

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    Nvm I don't rlly have time for a back/forth. Wish you well with the path you choose.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2017

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