Friday, June 4, 2021

Which way do I go?

Earlier this week, a fellow author who'd written a trilogy asked me the prize question: Should I find a small press or should I self publish?

This author has ten books to her name already, but she'd recently broken up with her agent and former publishing house. No earth-shattering reason. It was just a poor genre fit for all parties. So here she is, out on her own. 

You'll be proud of me. For once, I did not say "it depends". Instead, I asked her what she wanted. We went through the pros of each:

Self-Publishing Pros

  • You maintain control of every aspect of your books.
  • You decide what the covers look like.
  • You decide how much covers and formatting cost.
  • You decide how quickly or slowly to release your novels.

Self-Publishing Cons

  • You assume all of the monetary risk.
  • You're entirely on your own for marketing.
  • You're responsible for every aspect of your books and some days, that's a heavy burden. 
  • Print versions of your book may require extra formatting, extra cover costs, and may be priced out of most readers' reach.

Small Press Pros

  • A sense of legitimacy.
  • A contract.
  • Editors you don't have to pay for.
  • You can usually leverage your publishing house mates for mutual marketing boosts.
  • Most publishing houses have a marketing coordinator on staff and/or a marketing mailing list where authors can lean on amassed experience.

Small Press Cons

  • You may not  have a print run if the press is e-book only.
  • Someone else controls the book cover process.
  • Your rights are tied up for a few years.
  • Some presses tie up more than just print and digital rights.
  • Some presses have long publication lead times and cannot guarantee your preferred release schedule.
  • Small presses occasionally go out of business and that makes a mess.
As we talked it became clear she wanted one thing - help with marketing. I wish I could tell you what decision she made, but I don't yet know. I suspect she'll opt for a small press, but that's a guess. Which way would you go?

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