Monday, June 25, 2018

Self Pub vs traditional pub all comes down to this....

At the end of the day I can tell you a thousand differences between self publication and traditional (or legacy) publication by a small  press or a major house. The differences may not actually run into a thousand or so but they are high,

But at the end of all of it the differences are all about one thing. Control.

Let's discuss that for a moment, shall we?

What do you mean, Jim? What sort of control?

Here's the biggest one. Do you want to have that book published? Yeah? Cool. Good luck.

Listen I have been very, very lucky over the years. I've had virtually everything I've written published and even on a few occasions where I have not immediately gotten satisfaction, I got it somewhere down the line. that's the rub with traditional publishing, however.

In the case of the big boys, the big Five as it were, these days especially, it's not about what you want to write, it's about what they think they can sell. It used to be that an editor had enough power to decide whether or not to buy a book. later it sort of became a committee situation in a lot of cases. The editor would prepare notes and effectively pitch you novels to the senior editors or a pool of editors to decide what looked good and what sort of offers could be made on a new project.

These days it's gotten a little stranger. These days a lot of publishing houses look to their advertising teams to decide whether or  not a book is going to make the grade, because, ultimately, the marketing department has to decide where the book is going to be placed.

Okay, let me clarify again: Let's say you have a western novel with a side of supernatural horror that you would like to sell. first they have to decide where to place that. is it a western? Is it a horror novel? Does it qualify in that incredibly small niche market of weird westerns? marketing decides that answer, and THEN marketing decides if that answer is something they can work with. if they don;t think they can place a weird western on the shelves of every bookstore and push it through the digital gateways of Amazon, they aren't going to let anyone buy the book. It's dead to them. At the end of the day, it's numbers, nothing personal but why invest several thousand dollars into a product that simply will not be moveable in their eyes?

They are decidedly not in the business of flushing money down the toilet.

Small and medium sized presses can take different risks, but they, too, have to worry about at least breaking even. in the case of small presses a lot fo them are basically labors of love. they will forgive themselves for only breaking even on their costs. But that's the exception and decidedly not the rule. even the smallest presses, especially the for the love presses, have limits. A lot of the small presses are run by one person which MIGHT have people helping with layout and editing or might not. They front all of the costs of making the books, which are often high end and very expensive, they limit the print run and do books the way that books were done before mass market existed. That costs a lot of money and it often costs these individuals a lot of time. they might not fret too much over just breaking even, but at the end of the day they want to do a good book and keep the press afloat without hemorrhaging money from every orifice.

All of that is a consideration when it comes to legacy publication. Cost of labor, cost of production, cost of storage, generating enough revenue to not only justify those costs but to also make a profit.

Want to avoid all the worry? Self-Publish. then, yes, you can sell your book. That weird western that no one wants to touch? You've got it ready to go with Amazon. Except, of course, for the new cover art, the editing costs, the layout, the print run, digital, audio and print considerations. at the end of the day SOMEONE is going to have to out some money up in order to get a quality product. First hint is free: The cover is important and unless your nephew is actually a successful graphic artist, you probably shouldn't ask him to draw a cover for you. The picture that you have for the world to see of your book cover is roughly the size of your thumbnail. That picture better be good enough to catch the attention of every person out there in a positive way, or you're just another image in the digital catalogue.  Especially in tis day and age, people DO in fact judge a book by the cover.

A badly laid out book will haunt you. It can be fixed, but the reviews cannot. Advertising your book costs money. I recently heard of one publicist who has just started out, who wants over a thousand dollars to advertise a book for you. Said publicist has NO EXPERIENCE but wants to make a living. If that publicity amounts to Facebook and Twitter, you better do a little research.

But at the end of the day, it's about control. Either the houses pay you up front and you jump through some hoops, or you do it yourself and cough up the appropriate bread in the hopes that you can make some money.

Whichever way you run with it, there are risks and rewards.

That's just my opinion and your mileage may vary.

1 comment:

  1. I would consider that very lucky as well to have pretty much everything you've written be published. Well done! I suspect it has something to do with your tenacity...