The Usual Banter Against the Traditional Publishing Route

The Usual Banter Against the Traditional Publishing Route

I in one way condone this picture. I thought it’d be fitting for what I’m arguing.

First off, he does have some good points. The agenting process can be time consuming and often agonizing. One of my author friends sent her first now-self-published book to over one hundred agents and received roughly the same response: it’s great, but not for us. However, she is now, hopefully, a soon-to-be hybrid author, as she found a literary agent and was willing to do the edits for that agent before said agent accepted. She is still self-publishing, and she probably will continue doing so because she has found a little bit of success with it. He is also right that the agent then has to find a publisher, and I know not all agents update their authors on which houses they’ve sent the book to, most likely because they’re busy with other clients’ manuscripts, so their clients are left in the dark, something I can’t accept. In fact, I know one girl who wrote an amazing-seeming book, has been with her agent for several years, and that book hasn’t found a home. I often wonder why she doesn’t drop kick that agent and seek out a new one, or have the agent help her self-publish it. He also has a point that once said publisher is found, more edits will be done, almost undoing the edits the agent had you do. And then it can take some time for your book to come out, even after everything is finished. You also may not receive any promotion (other than reviews, like Kirkus), and being published with a traditional publisher doesn’t guarantee a shelf in a bookstore. Your book also has a certain time period in which to sell, and if it doesn’t sell all its books, it’s removed from shelves (however, with the advent of the e-book and online bookstores, authors removed from shelves still have time to build a fan base, so this point is, well, pointless).

One point I didn’t find in the article (it could have been mentioned) is that advances for first-time authors can be pitifully low, not to mention that royalties are pitiful as well (about 12% without an agent, down to 2% with an agent).

You do have full control with self-publishing, but at the end of the day, it’s not for every writer. It certainly isn’t for me, even if I am a little bit marketing-minded. Business-minded, I am not. Writing is an art, publishing is a business. They are two completely different monsters.

At the same time, the one thing I firmly disagree with about this article is that this writer implies that ALL authors should self-publish and never go the traditional route again. 

    1. You have to invest your own money into the process, and there is no guarantee you will make double on what you spent, even if you have an infinite shelf life. Even though you can make the process affordable to you, some people still have to tighten their budgets, and so many may not be able to afford self-publishing for quite a while (so they might as well go through the querying process because all that is FREE for them). Plus, unless an editor who charges cheaply has quite a few testimonials, mentions books they have edited (and these books have GOOD reviews), your only other option is to hire one who charges over 1,000 dollars, because these are more often than not some elite editors. Once I really began to research self-publishing, I realized that it wasn’t something I’d be able to afford, because I don’t have any connections who’d edit, format, and do cover art free for me. Some self-published authors are lucky enough to have connections who can make the process free, but most don’t.
    2. The authors who sell really well, who become bestsellers, are the exceptional ones, just as the ones in the traditional process. I look at the rankings of many a self-published novel, and MOST are not in the bestseller ranking. Very few make it to that ranking, for whatever reason, so many of those authors who sunk their money into the process may never make double of what they spent. Again, they have an infinite shelf-life, but I’ve followed a few self-published books that have been out for two years, and their rankings still aren’t that great–pitiful, in fact. They must be marketing well–otherwise, I wouldn’t have found them. Some books simply are not meant to be self-published. Some of these books would have found more success with a traditional house. For example, NA (new adult) books have found quite a lot of success with self-publishing compared to other genres. One author I know writes NA, and for some reason, her NA books are more successful than her genre books! I prefer her genre books over her NA ones. I don’t know why this is, as she has hired someone to do PR, but, again, some books just do better in a house than without one. 
    3. Small presses. Why are people glossing over small presses? Because small presses are, well, small, they are able to devote their time into book publicity, and it is either free or MUCH cheaper than self-publishing (with some houses, you might have to devote a little bit of cash, but this is to keep those houses from going under, as many small presses who come to inception don’t last long because they can’t afford to pay back their editors and what not). My publishing house actually helps with publicity. I help with it as well, just to double the efforts. All authors should delight in marketing their books, even if it’s small, whether or not they’re getting great publicity from their publishers–John Green certainly does, and he is MASSIVELY popular because of it. There are small presses who can also get your book into bookstores (Spencer Hill Press and Entangled Publishing come into mind, and you don’t need an agent). To me, small presses are much better than self-publishing, because you don’t have long wait times to hear back from one, it’s often free, and well, there are a bunch of other benefits I could list hear. I heard back from my publisher in just a few days. Though they’re new, my experience with them has been stellar, and they are continually revising their model–and their authors are allowed to help with this. I have also had an active part in every process of my book, so I was not kept in the dark. I also had the final say in the cover (though I had help in deciding which design would be best because I am too close to my book to know what type of cover would market my book well).
    4. Being in bookstores and libraries. It isn’t true that you have to be a bestseller, or you’ll be axed from the shelves. I read primarily YA, and I have seen many, many books that are still on the shelves whose authors are not bestsellers (paperback books, mind you). All you have to do is sell out within their time frame, and the bookstore will order your book again. Now being traditionally published doesn’t guarantee a spot on the shelf, but if you do make it to the shelves, that is publicity in itself, as many people do wander the shelves seeking their next book to read. You’ll also likely get into libraries, which is another form of publicity. Most self-published books don’t even have a chance of being on shelves (they can get into their independent bookstores, but they’re not a chain). This doesn’t mean those self-published books won’t become bestsellers, but, again, simply being on a shelf, with a great cover, to boot, can add to the publicity.

I am going to end this  on a positive note for the sake of this author, as I am writing this article to argue against his. Check out his book, Iona Portal. Great cover art, and it seems interesting. This is a guy who knows what he’s doing.

To balance out this article, I am going to write one on the positives of self-publishing, arguing against an article who says you should never do it (it’s a really horrendous article, completely biased, and has god-awful points. This guy’s article at least has some valid points).

Amazon’s Erratic Sales Ranking

Amazon’s Erratic Sales Ranking

Recently I found this article on Google titled My Amazon bestseller made me nothing. I found this article because I noticed my book is now out of stock (I think that’s a good thing? It’s only been out for two weeks and already its out of stock), and I simply wanted to know what that meant in terms of Amazon. Of course, I found no answer, but perhaps some of you authors could elaborate. Nonetheless, I take it to mean people have bought my book. In any case, basically what happened is that Patrick Wensink sold 4,000 copies of his book, published by a small, press, and was immediately launched on the bestseller’s list, competing with such titles as The Hunger Games, among a few other pertinent books; however, his book was only on the bestseller’s list for a week. His basic complaint was that he only made 12,000 dollars, as he makes 3 dollar per book, but, honestly, that’s more than the average advance a larger publishing house would give, so I’d say he did pretty good for himself, even if he was only on the list for a week–granted, taxes had to be taken out, but that is besides the point. So what happened was that his sales rank plummeted–which, in Amazon terms, is a good thing–and afterward rose thereafter, as his publishing house did not take advantage of this opportunity to keep the fire going, so to speak. So the fact that his ranking rose is pretty much his publisher’s fault. 

I say this because his book was competing with titles that sold WAY more per day. For example, Colleen Hoover’s book, Hopeless, sold 2,000 books per day, and his book was competing with that, and I think had a lower ranking than this book. So the fact that he sold 4,000 books in a short time and then lost his bestseller status points to the fact that the Amazon bestseller status means absolutely nothing, unless you can remain on it for a good amount of time and continue selling books at least in the thousands. You get on the bestseller’s list on Amazon for selling a lot of books in a short amount of time. For example, selling 300 books your first day can launch you at a very low ranking, making Amazon’s sales ranking a very confusing algorithm that can mislead you and your readers into thinking you sold way more than 300 and so are going to make a lot more money than that. So, essentially, while I would love to make 12,000 dollars, perhaps Wensink’s complaints aren’t entirely laughable, because, being in bestseller status, you think you would make more, but Amazon’s algorithm is very poor, and thus it doesn’t take much to reach bestseller status like it does for The New York Times. BUT, if you can consistently stay on bestseller status, then it will mean something. Selling 4,000 books, especially from a small press, is actually VERY good, considering the average book, for a first time author, even with a major house, can only sell about 500—and this was his print book, mind you, not his e-book.

Again, I don’t look at my ranking. I just wanted to see how many reviews I had and noticed my book was out of stock, so I thought that was pretty cool. 

I wrote this post for those wringing their hands over their rankings. Stop. Don’t even look at your rankings. You can still sell 4,000 books, even if it is over a long period of time and not the short period you often expect, and you’re still selling more than the average first time book, and your ranking may still be high. We all want to make money for our writing so that way we can become full-time writers, but for many of us, it’s going to take a certain amount of time to do so. Don’t get discouraged about your Amazon ranking. At this point, it essentially means nothing, really. I found my ranking to be in the 70,000s one day (on accident, as I was trying to figure out how to do my author bio), but Amazon told me I had sold nothing, so they take FOREVER to update on how many books you actually sold. Granted, I go through a small press, and so the numbers actually go to the actual place that prints the books, so I don’t even think what Amazon says is important to my publisher–and that’s fine with me. Whatever. 

So I hope all you writers find this useful, and if you, as readers, take the Amazon ranking into account when buying a book, realize it essentially means nothing, though it can be important. However, I think Amazon’s algorithm is very flawed and it should take A LOT more books to be put in the bestseller’s status; however, I also read it doesn’t take much anymore to reach The New York Times Bestseller status, because there are authors who are only on it for a week, and they’re automatically branded bestsellers and so this is printed on their next book for marketing purposes, which is understandable. 

Tonight, I will be writing about the marketing I did for my book because I think it is a good follow-up blog post to this one. 

Put When Stars Die in the Top Ten

Put When Stars Die in the Top Ten

WhenStarsDie-3-1As I said at the end of my NaNo post yesterday, today’s post is extremely short. I simply want you guys to vote for When Stars Die in what I believe is a cover art contest. Being put in the top ten will earn me something awesome, and I would very much like that something awesome. So click on When Stars Die to be taken to the poll, find the book, and vote for it! Thank you so much, Stars!

 Tomorrow’s post will be about my sudden, intense interest in the marketing and launching of a book, so this will be a very new thing for me. 

Self-Publishing and the Willingness to Spend Money

Self-Publishing and the Willingness to Spend Money

I hope the author has learned from this catastrophe.

Self-publishing is not for those who have nothing to spend. If you can’t spend money on editing, cover design, and book formatting, self-publishing is not for you–unless you can design and format on your own. Instead the best route for you would be the traditional route because the traditional route often costs nothing.

I mention this because books are heavily judged on cover, editing, and interior design. Self-publishing nowadays is cheaper because you can go right to e-book instead of having to do print. But it costs publishers to produce a book, and so it should cost you money to produce a book as well.

There are some really horrible self-published covers out there. The one to my left is one such example. It makes me think the book is violent and that all Christians need chainsaws to prove a point. I can’t even tell if the cover is trying to be symbolic or what the author was even thinking when choosing this cover. And the colors are too bold. Bold colors paired with bold colors are often tacky. It’s not Kindergarten anymore. Primary colors worked then but they don’t work now because there are so many shades and tones and hues of colors that there is an entire class devoted to color theory at some universities. So if you want to design your own cover art, take some sort of design class or book production class.

As for editing, you can only edit so much before you need someone else to look at it. If you can’t afford an editor, please don’t self-publish. Use beta readers and go the traditional route because if you don’t even have money for a proofreader, what makes you think your book is going to be able to make it without some sort of paid marketing, like giveaways and what not? Even though my book is technically going traditional, I have some money I’m going to use for giveaways once the book is published. But it is impossible to fully edit on your own because you are the writer, not the reader, your audience. You NEED another pair of eyes, professional eyes, preferably, to whip your book into shape.

The interior design of a book can be just as important as the exterior design of a book. I’ve seen so many self-published books whose interior design has been brutally destroyed because the author did not hire a book designer. Said author likely formatted a .pdf file and put it through the Kindle converter, expecting the book to come out with publishable quality, when more often than not the paragraphs are wonky, not indented, words are missing, pages are missing, and so on and so forth. Also, a lot of readers don’t like to read .pdf. If all you can manage is a .pdf file and nothing more, don’t publish because your book is going to suffer without pre-release marketing and some reviews. You might be able to find some who will read .pdf, but if you want really good reviewers, they might end up requesting various formats, and there are just some reviewers you don’t want to pass up because you only have .pdf.

Self-publishing takes money. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that just because everything is digital now that it’s not going to take a lot because it is. If you want your book to compete with traditionally published books, you’re going to have to spend some money to make some money. Otherwise, don’t go this route and go the traditional route, be it large or small presses.




The Madness of the Value of Books

The Madness of the Value of Books

tumblr_mmzsfn7vKK1rnvzfwo1_500Ever since the advent of e-readers and the ease of which one can publish a book now, the book market has exploded with thousands of different books for readers to choose from now. No longer are readers limited by what traditional publishers choose for us to read, readers can now be the gatekeepers of what books make it and what books don’t.

In spite of readers now being in charge of quality control, there are so many traditionally published writers out there that believe an oversaturated market is going to diminish the value of their traditionally published novel. And they really don’t have a strong argument for why this is. They just think their book is going to drown in the sea of crap, and that sea of crap is going to diminish its value because readers are now going to have a difficult time finding books that are worth reading because of self-publishing. But books aren’t like money. The more money printed, the more the dollar loses its value. How can this hold the same for books? Isn’t it a good thing that readers have control now and no longer have to rely on the traditional publishers to feed their demand? Why is that such a bad thing?

In my opinion, if you feel your traditionally published book is going to lose its value because now anyone can publish a book, you lack confidence in the reader to be able to choose what’s good and what’s bad. Only 5% of novels ever started are actually finished, and only 1% are ever published. If all 5% of those books are now being published, well, you’re still a special little snowflake because the rest of the 95% can’t finish a book to save their lives. And that’s really what it is for people complaining the value of their books is going to be diminished. They want to feel like special snowflakes who waded through the muggy waters of publishing and made it. They don’t want anyone else to intrude upon their territory, especially that guy who published a book and had never written before.

But the special snowflake syndrome is ridiculous. Anyone can publish a book now, but not everyone is going to be able to sell well and make it. Of the %5 that can all publish now, only 1% are probably going to sell well enough to write another book. Now that anyone can publish a book, there is more pressure on writers to create quality content so they have a reason to keep writing and publishing. There are just as many crap self-pubbed books as there are crap traditionally pubbed books, even though there are probably more self-pubbed books out there–the ratios are still likely the same.

I think this is a great era for writers. The stigma of self-publishing is dying because readers don’t care who the publisher is. They’re probably going to look at the cover, blurb, and sample pages before they’re even aware that Random House is behind the book. They only want a good story, and if the top books are self-pubbed books, who cares. I say let the readers be in charge. The books are made for them, after all.

This oversaturated market just means writers have to work harder to be seen, and that is a good thing.


I Am Giving Away Two Books!

I Am Giving Away Two Books!

Enter to win two free books: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon Thompson! Click on the link under Related articles to be taken to the original post for the rules. I will say you must be following me to be considered and must leave a comment to be entered.