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Authors' Forum => Writers' Cafe => Topic started by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 09:41:40 am

Title: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 09:41:40 am
Say this isn't so. What of Casey, Howey, Hocking, etc. who were unknowns before they self-published? Methinks Harper Collins is trying to dissuade unpublished writers from self-publishing instead of querying agents. What say you?

(Emphasis mine:)

"Self-publishing has tended to be most successful for authors who have an already established brand-awareness; success through self-publishing has tended to be more elusive for emerging authors who are still finding their audience amidst the tidal wave of inexpensive and readily available content that is available to readers." - Daisy Hutton

http://rmabry.blogspot.com/2013/11/writing-publishing-is-not-for-sissies.html
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 09, 2013, 09:47:29 am
Derp.  A nice attempt to scare people back to the slush piles.

Certainly it's true, in a technical sense.  It's relatively easier for people who have established platforms (usually) and relatively tougher for people who are unknowns (usually).  Interesting they didn't compare it to one's chances of success with attracting a publisher with a platform or without it.  I think it's safe to say that if you already have some kind of name recognition, marketing yourself -- to readers or to publishers -- will be easier than if nobody knows who the heck you are.  Duh, HC! 

However, I do think that self-pub isn't for sissies.  Nothing about publishing is for sissies.  It's a rough gig.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Annette_g on November 09, 2013, 09:53:38 am
Derp.  A nice attempt to scare people back to the slush piles.

Certainly it's true, in a technical sense.  It's relatively easier for people who have established platforms (usually) and relatively tougher for people who are unknowns (usually).  Interesting they didn't compare it to one's chances of success with attracting a publisher with a platform or without it.  I think it's safe to say that if you already have some kind of name recognition, marketing yourself -- to readers or to publishers -- will be easier than if nobody knows who the heck you are.  Duh, HC! 

However, I do think that self-pub isn't for sissies.  Nothing about publishing is for sissies.  It's a rough gig.

If publishers want authors to keep submitting to them, they need to specify what they will do for the author. I was with publishers and I was doing a lot of marketing and promoting on my own. In one month at KDP I made more on my book than the 3 years it was with a publisher. I'm so over wanting the kudos of having my work picked up by a publisher. Maybe if they offered me a large advance I'd consider it, but other than that, no.

Publishers seem to think they are doing you a favour by publishing your book, but without authors writing stories there wouldn't be any publishers in the first place. Treat authors with a bit more respect.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 09, 2013, 09:54:51 am
Word.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Quiss on November 09, 2013, 09:56:01 am
However, I do think that self-pub isn't for sissies.  Nothing about publishing is for sissies.  It's a rough gig.

Word.
I'm trying not to be a sissy. It's hard. I'm selling less now with more titles than last year. When I run promotions I get a few weeks of good sales of the other titles, so I must be doing something right, but unless I promote sales slink into obscurity. I suppose this is in part due to the increased number of books available and fighting for visibility.
Definitely discouraging and not for sissies!
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: PulpDogg on November 09, 2013, 09:58:31 am
Uh ... she is right.

Howey, Hocking etc. are huge outliers and in no way the norm. On average yes, success has been more elusive for authors starting out. And of course authors who have been at the business of writing for a while have it easier. They are better at craft, they have a built in audience and maybe a backlist to exploit.

That wasn't a knock on emerging writers, nor was it an attempt to scare people back to the slush pile.

It was a simple observation.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ktashbury on November 09, 2013, 09:59:11 am
I don't disagree with it. "More elusive" is fair enough. But the self-publishing world isn't for sissies, it's true.

I started doing it in May as a means to play around and as a therapeutic measure (I've always loved writing; just had never explored the idea of publishing anything) and what I've found is that there's simply a steep learning curve. I've spent many hours reading and researching, and implementing what I've learned. With my other pen name I've had a really interesting experience since I published something on October 25th after biting the bullet and aiming for a genre/subject matter which I knew sells. During the last few days of that month, with not a stitch of advertising, I sold more books than I'd sold since beginning. In the first 9 days of this month I've sold almost twice as many as that.

I'd say that if the self-published author expects to throw one book up and make a living, he or she is basically playing a very sketchy lottery. But there are ways to get your books to readers. Now, if one's goal is simply to be published, that's easy as anything. Nothing elusive about uploading a book file. :)

In my mind it's a bit like going on Netflix. The site shows you what they think you want to watch. So unless you have a film in mind to type into the search engine, you're looking at suggestions. If you go on Amazon you'll see Dan Brown et al staring you in the face; finding an unknown writer means taking time going through lists. That's the biggest challenge---getting seen. If you're seen you'll sell books.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 10:00:35 am
Maybe if they offered me a large advance I'd consider it, but other than that, no.

Publishers seem to think they are doing you a favour by publishing your book, but without authors writing stories there wouldn't be any publishers in the first place. Treat authors with a bit more respect.

Apparently advances are down these days and have been so the last couple of years. What used to be 5 figures are now down to 4 figures.

More and more, I'm seeing unpublished authors going to smaller presses that don't require lit agent intermediaries. They forfeit advances in exchange for a 40% royalty cut across the board (ebook and print).
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Robert Gregory Browne on November 09, 2013, 10:04:57 am
I met a woman recently who signed a digital deal with Harper Collins and got ZERO advance. I'm not sure I'd take what Harper Collins has to say too seriously, if that's the alternative they have to offer. But maybe she was the exception...
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 10:12:15 am
I started doing it in May as a means to play around and as a therapeutic measure (I've always loved writing; just had never explored the idea of publishing anything) and what I've found is that there's simply a steep learning curve. I've spent many hours reading and researching, and implementing what I've learned.

When I decided to self-publish, I knew that it wasn't going to be easy to be half writer and half publisher. Becoming my own publisher means starting a new business in a saturated market... that's very hard. A start-up company has a statistical probability of failing in the first 4 years, at least in the USA.

That wasn't a knock on emerging writers, nor was it an attempt to scare people back to the slush pile.

It was a simple observation.

Yes, but to what end? What is she saying to unpublished writers? That it's easier to query agents than to self-publish? She was responding to this article by Brandilynn Collins:

http://rmabry.blogspot.com/2013/10/writing-guest-post-by-brandilyn-collins.html

"For me there are three other important aspects of going indie: (1) I’m no longer selling my assets; I own them. With today’s technology publishers are claiming books that have been out of print for years are suddenly back “in print” due to some obscure POD that won’t sell—thus denying the authors the rights reversion. In owning my books this will not happen to me in the future. (2) I’m paid monthly and can track sales daily. I’ve always been frustrated by the difficulty of getting sales numbers from publishing houses. When you do get them, they’re up to 9 months old and useless as far as marketing. Not to mention—getting paid only twice a year is difficult. (3) I’m in complete control of cover design, marketing, and—very important—price of the book." - Brandilyn Collins


Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Lady Vine on November 09, 2013, 10:16:02 am
This applies to virtually every career; that's just the way life is. Harper Collins might as well have just said water is wet! It really adds nothing to any discussion. But what they failed to mention was that self-publishing is less elusive than the alternative.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: BBGriffith on November 09, 2013, 10:20:11 am
I think it's absolutely more elusive for emerging authors. Certainly authors with established platforms that then move to self-publishing have a leg up on an emerging author who went straight to self-publishing, but moreover I think it's far more difficult for those self-published authors starting today than it was for self-published authors starting three years ago. There are simply a heck of a lot more of us now and it's harder to make a splash.

That said, I'd never not self-publish anyway. It's too much fun.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 10:28:25 am
Interesting they didn't compare it to one's chances of success with attracting a publisher with a platform or without it.  I think it's safe to say that if you already have some kind of name recognition, marketing yourself -- to readers or to publishers -- will be easier than if nobody knows who the heck you are.  Duh, HC!  

Good point about that!

Also she didn't mention that agents and publishers are constantly keeping an eye on self-published books to see which authors rise to the top whom they can approach. Obviously they are not going to offer contracts to a self-published author at a low Amazon ranking. So, ironically, self-publishing actually helps tradpub.

This applies to virtually every career; that's just the way life is. Harper Collins might as well have just said water is wet! It really adds nothing to any discussion. But what they failed to mention was that self-publishing is less elusive than the alternative.

That is true. I've heard writers say not to bother querying certain agents because they have decided on a 100% rejection rate. Also, agents won't pick up just any genre bc publishers are only looking for certain novels. In self-publishing you can publish anything you want, not just genres that are currently hot.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Christa Wick on November 09, 2013, 10:40:10 am
If you're starting out as a WRITER and a self-publisher, it's going to be hard because you haven't necessarily learned craft and covers. However, I see a lot of people who have been self-publishing for at least a couple of years launch new SECRET pen names (i.e. their fans of pen name X aren't told that new pen name Y is X under another name) to great success taking what they learned under their other pen names self-publishing. Sometimes it's same genre, sometimes they jump genres.

Basically, I don't think it's harder now than it was in 08. If anything, I think it's easier! There may be more writers SP'ing, but there are more readers and there are more reasonably priced and well-vetted services if you can't DIY 100%, and there are things like bookbub, POI and ENT. Heck, there are even more tools within the platforms (select launched in 2011, KDP in 2008, Kobo's new promotional pricing tool, etc.) now. There's also a ton more good advice on what to do.

I don't want to hear the newbs whinging on how hard it is now.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: JRTomlin on November 09, 2013, 10:45:56 am
Well, yeah, if I want advice on self-publishing of course I'll go ask someone in traditional publishing! That makes sense, doesn't it?  ::) :P
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Cege Smith on November 09, 2013, 10:53:21 am
I don't disagree with the logic. It's kind of "DUH"- if you have a built-in fan base as traditionally published author, you have a greater chance of having success than someone who's coming in to build it from the ground up. I think it's fair to temper that statement though by saying that someone can have earlier success out of the gate moving into the self-publishing game because they've already paved their way to that point, as opposed to someone who has to do those steps too. It's not an earth-shattering idea or particularly insightful IMO. Long-term, those two can end up even in this new world.

What I am a little perplexed by was this statement:
"But in my mind, the real reason that traditional publishers are still relevant today is because of the value they place on helping make each piece of content they publish as beautiful, as meaningful, and as powerful as it can possibly be."

Um, yeah. I do that with my work too, and I don't feel like I need a trad publisher to do it.  ::)
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 10:56:39 am
Well, yeah, if I want advice on self-publishing of course I'll go ask someone in traditional publishing! That makes sense, doesn't it?  ::) :P

LOL.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Michelle Maibelle on November 09, 2013, 10:59:22 am
You'd figure that traditional publishers would like self publishing for its 'weed-em-out' system. Slush piles are cycling out in favor of an e-market that rewards the talented and hard working authors out there who try to earn an audience.

But then, I guess the establishment knows they lose their leverage when authors receive better royalties elsewhere. I think that this is the way it's gonna go, though--traditional publishers are going to be there for print publishing, and that alone. Maybe the superstars work out a deal that includes the publisher handling the e-book market.

Why would authors shortchange themselves otherwise?

Maybe there's always going to be people out there looking for prestige, shunning self publishing. I guess we'll see what happens in the next 20 years.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: TiffanyTurner on November 09, 2013, 11:11:01 am
A lot has happened since I started in 2007. I could have waited around and done nothing. I know of a couple people in my genre that went to the same writing conferences. They have been discouraged over the years and stopped writing. Self-publishing gets your writing out there. I went through similar processes of writing, revision, and just got stuck at the rejection area. Rejection doesn't mean it's bad. Most of the time it means there is no market, no room on the list, no editor to fight for your project. There are a lot of factors that come into play with being excepted. And then if a publisher excepts you, the marketing is often left to the author to promote themselves.

I have learned more about writing, marketing and promoting by self publishing than if I waited around to be excepted. I've got a reader base, blog, following, sell my books abroad(Japan, New Zealand, Australia) and it all complements my day job. I'm a teacher. I don't make enough to give up the day job, yet. But I get so much encouragement here, go to writing conferences, and keep writing. I have found inspiration in self publishing to continue as a writer. I've been dappling in Romance and NA Romance. I've got a freelance editor. I'm doing all the things that were only possible with traditional publishers 5 years ago.

I haven't become that best seller. But I keep writing. No one has the formula for that. Publishing is a crap shoot. You put out your best product and see what sells. It's more of a Brave New World than Wild West show. Self publishing can adapt faster to the digital age than traditional publishing. We have less overhead, higher % with ebooks, and more distribution. Self publishing has made it possible to move forward with my writing. 
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Vivi_Anna on November 09, 2013, 11:12:18 am
Say this isn't so. What of Casey, Howey, Hocking, etc. who were unknowns before they self-published? Methinks Harper Collins is trying to dissuade unpublished writers from self-publishing instead of querying agents. What say you?

(Emphasis mine:)

"Self-publishing has tended to be most successful for authors who have an already established brand-awareness; success through self-publishing has tended to be more elusive for emerging authors who are still finding their audience amidst the tidal wave of inexpensive and readily available content that is available to readers." - Daisy Hutton

http://rmabry.blogspot.com/2013/11/writing-publishing-is-not-for-sissies.html


You have to remember this publishing is so quick now. What happened two years, isn't happening today. So we aren't seeing the huge successes of a couple of years ago, or even last year.  Sales are down for everyone, if you read the threads on here.  

I'm not saying what they're saying is true, BUT the landscape has changed in the past year and we aren't seeing the big breakouts anymore. At least I'm not seeing them.  Or hearing about them.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: leep on November 09, 2013, 11:39:33 am
You could argue most of this against the trad route. There are plenty of examples of mid-listers, people with little or no brand awareness, doing much better self-pubbing than they did sitting, unsupported, on a publishers backlist.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 11:55:24 am
Self publishing has made it possible to move forward with my writing.  

This is why I'm self-publishing instead of waiting anymore for tradpub agents to bite.

You could argue most of this against the trad route. There are plenty of examples of mid-listers, people with little or no brand awareness, doing much better self-pubbing than they did sitting, unsupported, on a publishers backlist.

I've seen a number of tradpub midlisters get their rights back on out-of-print books, slap a new cover on those books, and selfpub them, with the blessings of their current publishers.

I'm not saying what they're saying is true, BUT the landscape has changed in the past year and we aren't seeing the big breakouts anymore. At least I'm not seeing them.  Or hearing about them.

I believe you. There is a saturation right now IMO. As a reader, I can't find the books I want to read. As a writer, I've been reading Gaughran's "Let's Get Visible" to see which way is up.

Bottom line: ELHawk is right, it's a tough business the whole way through. But at least the SP author is already in the running and not sitting around waiting for a traditional publishing house to miraculously offer them a deal...

Agreed. As someone who has waited for 16+ years for tradpub to offer me a deal, I know that pain.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Gone 9/21/18 on November 09, 2013, 12:03:47 pm
Until and unless someone goes to many, many agents and publishers, gets a count on say the numbers that land in their slush pile annually and how many are published in the end and then gets a count of how many self-publishers submit to Amazon that year and how many of those books sell a publisher-like number of copies or better, how can anyone know what the odds are one way or the other? People keep trying to compare those who make it out of the traditional slush pile to all who self-publish, which is a singularly unfair comparison.

Remember Hugh's thread for those of us who aren't outliers but who make a satisfactory amount each month? Weren't there hundreds of us who fell in that category at the time? And that's just KBoarders who responded then.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: cinisajoy on November 09, 2013, 12:09:38 pm
Here is the thing I got from all this.   Hey wannabe author it is very hard to self publish so if you will give me 70% of all future royalties and if I don't like a book you can never publish it anywhere because I have rights to everything you will ever do.   I will do it for you.   I only make money if you do.  I will take your work and make sure it is seen.

Note to Julie and other small press here, I know all are not like that but I would be willing to bet a few would be.
   Now please do not look at KDP or smashwords because they won't last and avoid kboards WC at all costs, they will tell you I am just after your money.

And another unsuspecting fish author is lured into a bad contract and I make money off someone else's hard work.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Cherise on November 09, 2013, 12:11:57 pm
1) Although a new SP author may be languishing in the low ranks, they're still published and able to gain visibility. An author seeking a traditional publishing route is not.

2) There are many [self published] authors... earning a good living from their work. Many are full-time authors too. Again, this is contrary to traditional publishing, where many mid-list authors cannot afford to make a living entirely from writing as their "cut" of advances and royalties etc is so much smaller.

Bottom line: ELHawk is right, it's a tough business the whole way through. But at least the SP author is already in the running and not sitting around waiting for a traditional publishing house to miraculously offer them a deal...

I never thought I would hear you admit this, Dean. I admire you for being a big enough person to do so. 2) really is a stunning realization, isn't it? :)
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: bberntson on November 09, 2013, 12:12:07 pm
There are always exceptions to every rule, but I think it's safe to say do what feels right, what you're comfortable with, and don't give up.  I think someone already posted this in another thread, but it's very encouraging for those of you who are simply passionate about what you do, and refuse to give up.  If you love to write, you write, no exceptions.  I really think it's that simple sometimes.  

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/10/quitter-quitter.html
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 12:13:01 pm
Wow, you beat even me! I worked for 15 years before finally breaking through - did get a good deal in the end though  :)

Good for you!!

I was writing in an obscure subgenre that no tradpub wanted LOL but in the end I had a direct offer from the acquisition editor of a small tradpub for my ms though by then I had made up my mind to self-publish (soon) and keep 70% of the royalties. So it worked out for me too! :-)
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: JRTomlin on November 09, 2013, 12:22:46 pm
I saw a graph recently in an article about self-publishing that showed how the sales figures across the board at Amazon for self-published authors was an almost perfect match for those of traditionally published authors: i.e, that a tiny number of superstar authors occupied the highest rankings and sales, while around 99% of authors occupied the "long tail" of the graph with sales and rankings sinking rapidly into obscurity. If that graph is an accurate representation of the situation now, they it would appear that success in SP is just as hard now as in traditional.

However, in the interest of optimism, the same article made two important distinctions between the two industries;

1) Although a new SP author may be languishing in the low ranks, they're still published and able to gain visibility. An author seeking a traditional publishing route is not.

2) There are many authors occupying a "sweet-spot" in the tail of that graph, not achieving superstar sales but earning a good living from their work. Many are full-time authors too. Again, this is contrary to traditional publishing, where many mid-list authors cannot afford to make a living entirely from writing as their "cut" of advances and royalties etc is so much smaller.

Bottom line: ELHawk is right, it's a tough business the whole way through. But at least the SP author is already in the running and not sitting around waiting for a traditional publishing house to miraculously offer them a deal...


I'll third the "it's a tough business" statement. Doesn't matter how you do it, it is simply tough. And there are indeed quite a few of us 'mid-listers' making a living at it.

Interesting for us to agree for a change. :)
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: RJJ on November 09, 2013, 12:28:26 pm
I'd think it's safe to say that success is going to be a lot less likely for a newbie today than it was for a newbie hitting the market a year or two ago. A lot less likely. It's getting harder by the minute for established authors, too. The bottom line is that the market is grossly saturated not only with newbies but with the big houses (remember when every newbie celebrated the impending death of the evil big 6 on every blog written two years ago?) Far from vanishing, the big houses have adapted nicely. The market is also saturated with free and cheap books, to the detriment of all of us who are actually trying to make money. Bottom line, there's a lot more noise now than there was a year or two ago. It's harder and harder for any one person to be heard above the roar.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 09, 2013, 12:45:15 pm
I never thought I would hear you admit this, Dean. I admire you for being a big enough person to do so. 2) really is a stunning realization, isn't it? :)

Hahaha!  Group hug.

(http://cdn.uproxx.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/community-group-hug.gif)

Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Christa Wick on November 09, 2013, 02:25:59 pm
I saw a graph recently in an article about self-publishing that showed how the sales figures across the board at Amazon for self-published authors was an almost perfect match for those of traditionally published authors: 

Since Amazon doesn't release those numbers, I'm suspicious of any such graph.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Justawriter on November 09, 2013, 02:37:18 pm
I met a woman recently who signed a digital deal with Harper Collins and got ZERO advance. I'm not sure I'd take what Harper Collins has to say too seriously, if that's the alternative they have to offer. But maybe she was the exception...

Just got back from spending the day at Crimebake conference and last night an editor from Kensington said he'd heard of a digital only imprint from one of the big ones, he thought Random House, that not only offered no advance, but also expected the author to earn out on the costs of things like their covers. Craziness.....
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Wansit on November 09, 2013, 02:40:03 pm
I met a woman recently who signed a digital deal with Harper Collins and got ZERO advance. I'm not sure I'd take what Harper Collins has to say too seriously, if that's the alternative they have to offer. But maybe she was the exception...

Just got back from spending the day at Crimebake conference and last night an editor from Kensington said he'd heard of a digital only imprint from one of the big ones, he thought Random House, that not only offered no advance, but also expected the author to earn out on the costs of things like their covers. Craziness.....

Flat out insane.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Kat Lilynette on November 09, 2013, 02:50:35 pm
With the massive reader acceptance of e-publishing and also being able to supply those readers with print-on-demand services, I really have no idea why anyone would give the rights to their work to a publishing house. Unless, of course, they're giving you a TON of visibility you couldn't get otherwise. But, from what I hear, even if you go through a publishing house, you're still doing all the legwork yourself and making less money.

I know I have no experience in this area, but the whole thing just seems like a no-brainer to me because traditional publishing just doesn't seem to bring enough to the table. The ever-growing number of self-published, millionaire authors, authors who are making a good living, and authors who are making a great living, seem to reaffirm that belief for me.

The ebook market is finally starting to level out. The initial gold rush is over. And all that's left is the fruit for those who are willing to work hard enough to get to the top of the tree.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Chris P. O'Grady on November 09, 2013, 02:58:41 pm
I beg to differ on the point of it being "more elusive" for emerging writers. Presuming these emerging writers are also self publishing, I would not have ever seen 99% of your work. Period. With the advent of self publishing I get to view title after title. It's a brand new world. Admittedly the competition is greater but so is the visibility of the work. Your work is like gold embedded in quartz waiting for its chance to be liberated. ;D
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Greg Strandberg on November 09, 2013, 03:08:07 pm
If you're going by a complete lack of mental grasp, then I don't think it's anymore difficult than anything else or its historically been.  Figuring out how to upload a book for the first time is probably just a difficult today as it was years ago.  Self-publishing is getting a little hard to define.  You have people just self-publishing to Amazon, others to Smashwords, others to retailers individually, and then all the print self-publishing.  If you're talking about the profits that many are seeking, then yes, I do believe those are cleverly and skillfully elusive to many authors, whether new or old.

I love dictionary.com, don't you?
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/elusive?s=t
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: FictionalWriter on November 09, 2013, 05:26:53 pm
I agree but I think it's just harder overall, for everyone. Even some of the bigger names.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 09, 2013, 05:31:37 pm
It sounds as if she's right on the money. How many posts on KB are about exposure, marketing, and PR? How many arguments have erupted about the need for professional editing, cover design, and proofing? And of all the posters, how many are still struggling to find an audience?  
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jay Allan on November 09, 2013, 06:55:40 pm
It has always been difficult to sell a significant number of books, self or trad publishing...and it always will be.  Just as it is difficult for people to build careers as actors, musicians, etc.  But this comparison is constantly misrepresented.

You cannot compare trade published authors one for one with self-published ones.  Probably one in one thousand prospective trade published authors ever get a contract, while that whole 1,000 can self-publish.  If you want to compare accurately, you would need to take the entire pool of people who have submitted to a trade publisher, whether they were accepted or rejected and then compare this to the pool of self-published authors.  That is the accurate comparison, and, if the numbers were available, I don't think it would support trade publishing.  If you take a trade published author who sells 10,000 books and average them with 1,000 who died in the slush pile, your average in the trade published group sold 10 books.  Those are the kinds of numbers they like to show for self-pubbed authors.

An "emerging" author is someone who has to get a trade deal to even get published, and the vast majority of them won't.  It's great for trade publishers to scoop off only the ones they accept and compare them to everyone in the world who put a few hours into throwing a book up on Amazon.  I'd like to see a real comparison of apples vs. apples. 
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: RaeC on November 09, 2013, 07:13:25 pm
It all seems so stupid when you consider the probability of actually being trad-published, multiplied by the probability of achieving the type of trad-pub success necessary to build that type of platform and following to "transition" to self-pub success. So yes, that 1% stands a better chance of self-pub success than any Joe Blowriter, but I refuse to believe that 1% will actually average 99x more self-pub sales than self-pubbers without a trad-pub background.

Writers stand a better chance of success going straight to self-pubbing than trad-pubbing.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 09, 2013, 11:07:47 pm
Writers stand a better chance of success going straight to self-pubbing than trad-pubbing.

Good quote.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ChrisWard on November 10, 2013, 12:54:41 am
Last time i looked on Amazon there were 63,000 odd ebooks published in the last thirty days. For arguement's sake, say that's 20,000 authors publishing three books each. How many of those writers will become outliers? Perhaps one, or maybe two. So yeah, just guessing by the sheer numbers I'd reckon it's extremely hard for a new self-published writer to get a look in.

However, how many trad slots are available for that same pool of authors? Perhaps one, or two.

It seems to me that however way you look at it, you're better off self-publishing. And if you want to pursue a trad contract, then submit manuscripts that are already available on Amazon for sale. Better than having them on your hard drive doing nothing.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 10, 2013, 06:46:23 am
It sounds as if she's right on the money. How many posts on KB are about exposure, marketing, and PR? How many arguments have erupted about the need for professional editing, cover design, and proofing? And of all the posters, how many are still struggling to find an audience?  

Yes, of course.  It just seems silly, the way she phrased her statements.  It's harder for authors who don't have a platform to find visibility than those who do.  In other news, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; this and more on the eleven o'clock news.  And it seems a little disingenuous to imply that author visibility is more difficult in self-publishing than it is in traditional publishing.  They seem equally difficult to me, from what I've observed.  Trying to skew the article to make it look like it's a Sisyphean task to self-publish if you're a nobody does seem like a clear implication to me that the same is not true in traditional publishing.  Which is not the case.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Hugh Howey on November 10, 2013, 06:57:45 am
It has already been said in the thread by others, but what else does anyone expect? "Success comes to those with a large following. It's more difficult for people who have no following."

It's also easier for a plumber or a restaurateur to do well if they know a thousand people in town. Move to some place new and hang a shingle and see how hard it is out there. Yo, it's hard out there. It ain't news.

What drives me nuts about this line of crap form a major publisher is that they are subject to the same exact rules. How did J.K. Rowling's new release do without her name on it? Exactly.

Publishers sound like real estate agents (apologies to those of you who are one). They make it sound like you can't do business without them there to take a cut. Travel agents used to say the same thing. Well guess what? Tools came along and times changed. The same sorts of economic and personal decisions led to my wife and I buying and selling our own homes in the states where it would have cost us. Yeah, it's a little more work. But it sure is more enjoyable to be in charge, to make the decisions that affect your life, and to see the results of your hard work end up in your own pocket and not someone else's.

I totally understand a publisher having a different opinion. I would too, if my career was based on taking advantage of people. Hey, it's also smarter to lease a car. And don't you want to extend the warranty on that shiny new gadget you just bought? And don't you want insurance for that rental car?
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: seela connor on November 10, 2013, 07:06:33 am
Hey, this is completely true.

The exact same thing has happened in mobile application development. In the beginning (2008) you could make a fart app and make a million dollars in the App Store. http://venturebeat.com/2008/12/23/iphone-fart-app-pulls-in-nearly-10000-a-day/ (http://venturebeat.com/2008/12/23/iphone-fart-app-pulls-in-nearly-10000-a-day/)

I can tell you from insider knowledge of this that almost all of the top games and apps now spend millions of dollars to get to the top of the App Store and Google Play. For a new game, it's probably $200K in advertising just to get listed. And there's a huge market that has grown out of that opportunity.

Also, the apps are almost all free now with some kind of upgrade option and aggressive in app advertising/purchase used to fund them.

There are still a few indies that break out, but it's the exception not the rule. And most of them find backers who are willing to spend the money to advertise in exchange for a chunk of the revenue.

As the number of ebooks increases, discovery becomes the biggest challenge. It seems like there are three paths:


Honestly, I see the game changing again over the next few years as technology and assumptions about technology change. But for the next five years it's going to be harder and harder for indies to find readers.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 10, 2013, 08:22:37 am
And it seems a little disingenuous to imply that author visibility is more difficult in self-publishing than it is in traditional publishing.  They seem equally difficult to me, from what I've observed.  Trying to skew the article to make it look like it's a Sisyphean task to self-publish if you're a nobody does seem like a clear implication to me that the same is not true in traditional publishing.  Which is not the case.

This. I think you nailed it. I think that's what's between the lines that kept gnawing at me when I read the article but I couldn't find the words to describe what that chomping noise is. I think what you said is what what the article was implying.

Everybody knows that publishing, whether tradpub or selfpub, like any other business, is hard in various ways. As Hugh said:

It has already been said in the thread by others, but what else does anyone expect? "Success comes to those with a large following. It's more difficult for people who have no following."

It's also easier for a plumber or a restaurateur to do well if they know a thousand people in town. Move to some place new and hang a shingle and see how hard it is out there. Yo, it's hard out there. It ain't news.

And as RJJ said:

I'd think it's safe to say that success is going to be a lot less likely for a newbie today than it was for a newbie hitting the market a year or two ago. A lot less likely. It's getting harder by the minute for established authors, too. The bottom line is that the market is grossly saturated not only with newbies but with the big houses (remember when every newbie celebrated the impending death of the evil big 6 on every blog written two years ago?) Far from vanishing, the big houses have adapted nicely. The market is also saturated with free and cheap books, to the detriment of all of us who are actually trying to make money. Bottom line, there's a lot more noise now than there was a year or two ago. It's harder and harder for any one person to be heard above the roar.

But when Hutton said something like the following without saying that it's her own opinion (thereby implying Harper Collins agrees with her), it's like my cat scratching a steel post. Is she saying that selfpub is not an art? Not "carefully curated" or "beautifully crafted" or "expertly packaged content" or "meaningful" or "powerful?" I am not sure whether to feel insulted as a selfpub writer or say "sticks and stones" LOL.

(Emphasis mine:)

Quote
"Protecting the value of carefully curated, beautifully crafted, and expertly packaged content has never been more critical than at this moment. We can talk about any number of practical reasons why an author would chose to publish with a traditional house – broader distribution, marketing support, editorial and design expertise, expert pricing analytics and consumer analysis. But in my mind, the real reason that traditional publishers are still relevant today is because of the value they place on helping make each piece of content they publish as beautiful, as meaningful, and as powerful as it can possibly be." - Daisy Hutton for Harper Collins?
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 10, 2013, 08:44:04 am
but I couldn't find the words to describe what that chomping noise is.

It's always either a rat in your walls or a Libbie Hawker in your walls.  Neither is good news.

Is she saying that selfpub is not an art? Not "carefully curated" or "beautifully crafted" or "expertly packaged content" or "meaningful" or "powerful?" I am not sure whether to feel insulted as a selfpub writer or say "sticks and stones" LOL.

Yes, that is what she's saying.  It's not true, necessarily (sometimes it is, but sometimes it's also true of tradpub!)  That's what people who are still heavily reliant on the traditional publishing model want readers and writers to believe.  At least, that's what the people who haven't yet figured out a way to work within the new parameters of the book world, where writers actually have some control and can choose to walk away from deals, want others to believe.  That's the final grip they have, that perception that true quality can only come from tradpub (and, by implication, that only quality comes from tradpub), and they're not going to loosen their grip without a lot of protest.

Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Skye Ronan on November 10, 2013, 08:56:26 am
The last two trad-pubbed books I bought, I quit reading because they were so boring. Yeah, and one of them had a ton of proofreading errors.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: EC on November 10, 2013, 09:12:33 am
I think Daisy Hutton should get the Troll Of The Week award. Who cares what she thinks, just write, do your best and carry on. 

Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Cherise on November 10, 2013, 09:14:35 am
If you stick with it and just keep on chugging away, eventually you will succeed.



Sadly, this is not true. We do people whose talents lie elsewhere a great disservice when we say this.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Quiss on November 10, 2013, 09:22:53 am
Okay, this thread is getting depressing.

I'm going to log off and stick my head in the sand write something.  ;D
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 10, 2013, 10:21:53 am
Yes, of course.  It just seems silly, the way she phrased her statements.  It's harder for authors who don't have a platform to find visibility than those who do.  In other news, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; this and more on the eleven o'clock news.  And it seems a little disingenuous to imply that author visibility is more difficult in self-publishing than it is in traditional publishing.  They seem equally difficult to me, from what I've observed.  Trying to skew the article to make it look like it's a Sisyphean task to self-publish if you're a nobody does seem like a clear implication to me that the same is not true in traditional publishing.  Which is not the case.
It is more difficult, isn't it? Traditional (and by that I mean large publishing houses, not small press) have funding for advertisement on the web and in stores. They have contacts with highly regarded reviewers. And they have distribution in both domestic and foreign markets. Even a well established indie doesn't have all that.

People buy books published by the big six for very good reasons. The work is generally (not always) well edited, and the author is proven to have good writing skills and story-telling ability. This is confirmed through reviews by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, as well as Vine Voice amazon reviewers - naming just a few. This is no guarantee that the reader will like the book, but it is a good reason to give it a try.

We all know that there is a vast wealth of talent in the indie community. They put out work every bit as good or better than writers signed with large publishers. But we also know that there is quite a bit of ill-conceived,  unedited, trash out there too. It causes many readers to shy away from SP books, and creates further difficulty when trying to get your work noticed.

The ease of self-publishing has caused a flood of new writers to enter the market, most of which have no idea what they are doing once their book is written and uploaded to amazon. It's why many find their way to this board. They found out in a hurry that just because they put a book out there doesn't mean anyone is going to read it. Hell, some have put several out there and still don't know how to market. Others know, but don't have the funding. So, to me, it is clear why getting noticed in the indie world is far more challenging than in the traditional publishing world.

One last thing. If Penguin, Simon and Schuster, or any of the others came knocking, the majority of the people beating their chest about how much better indie is, would leave it all behind in a split second.
 
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 10, 2013, 10:26:42 am
The last two trad-pubbed books I bought, I quit reading because they were so boring. Yeah, and one of them had a ton of proofreading errors.

That is why I generally get tradpub books from the library. That way I can read them at no cost to me. Most of the time, I can forgive one or two copyediting errors, but you hit the keyword, "boring." Some tradpub books shouldn't have been published, but then they have the freedom to publish it, and I have the freedom not to read it.

Jamie Chavez blogged on why some books shouldn't have been published. I mentioned it here:

https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,167266.0.html
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 10, 2013, 10:37:53 am
It is more difficult, isn't it? Traditional (and by that I mean large publishing houses, not small press) have funding for advertisement on the web and in stores. They have contacts with highly regarded reviewers. And they have distribution in both domestic and foreign markets. Even a well established indie doesn't have all that.

True.  I should have clarified that I was viewing the tradpub route from query to book appearing on the shelf, not from singing the contract to book appearing on the shelf.  I'm not sure any random writer without name recognition has a better chance of standing out in the slush pile than a writer who's already got some sort of name recognition and presence.

Quote
One last thing. If Penguin, Simon and Schuster, or any of the others came knocking, the majority of the people beating their chest about how much better indie is, would leave it all behind in a split second.

The majority, but definitely not all.  I've had my eyeballs on the many things Hugh Howey said about his experience negotiating for a print-only deal since he began posting about it, and I've paid attention to KKR's many excellent posts about contracts and changes in the industry.  I wouldn't be too quick to sign a contract that impinged any of my creative freedom or my freedom to publish as I chose.  There might be circumstances where I would, but the name on their letterhead would not be enough to rope me into signing away a significant portion of my future potential earnings.  Maybe I'd work with a publisher, if the terms were favorable.  They often are not, particularly for people like me who aren't blasting up through the charts and don't have the negotiating power yet.  I wouldn't be too sure about that "split second" thing.  I think all kinds of writers are starting to pay more attention to contracts, and starting to think harder about the long-term implications of what they sign.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 10, 2013, 10:42:51 am
True.  I should have clarified that I was viewing the tradpub route from query to book appearing on the shelf, not from singing the contract to book appearing on the shelf.  I'm not sure any random writer without name recognition has a better chance of standing out in the slush pile than a writer who's already got some sort of name recognition and presence.

The majority, but definitely not all.  I've had my eyeballs on the many things Hugh Howey said about his experience negotiating for a print-only deal since he began posting about it, and I've paid attention to KKR's many excellent posts about contracts and changes in the industry.  I wouldn't be too quick to sign a contract that impinged any of my creative freedom or my freedom to publish as I chose.  There might be circumstances where I would, but the name on their letterhead would not be enough to rope me into signing away a significant portion of my future potential earnings.  Maybe I'd work with a publisher, if the terms were favorable.  They often are not, particularly for people like me who aren't blasting up through the charts and don't have the negotiating power yet.  I wouldn't be too sure about that "split second" thing.  I think all kinds of writers are starting to pay more attention to contracts, and starting to think harder about the long-term implications of what they sign.
I would love it, but I'd be cautious as well. At minimum I'd have to receive an advance that exceeds what I make on my own.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 10, 2013, 10:45:21 am
I would love it, but I'd be cautious as well. At minimum I'd have to receive an advance that exceeds what I make on my own.

Absolutely!  At minimum.  Alas, not likely to happen in historical fiction.  :'(  The advances tend to be bollocks as things are now in this genre, and they're only getting bollocksier.

The really fair advances seem to occur much more in thrillers and YA stuff. 
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 10, 2013, 10:46:15 am
Absolutely!  At minimum.  Alas, not likely to happen in historical fiction.  :'(  The advances tend to be bollocks as things are now in this genre, and they're only getting bollocksier.

The really fair advances seem to occur much more in thrillers and YA stuff. 
Lucky me! ;D
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 10, 2013, 11:17:10 am
Lucky me! ;D

:P
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 10, 2013, 11:46:02 am
This is very true but as ELHawk says a few would stick with their SP careers, whether rightly or wrongly.

The fact is that as mentioned a traditional publisher can give a brand-new author huge REACH, from adverts in newspapers to translation deals in other countries, radio slots, posters in train stations - the one thing that we all need so much to generate sales: VISIBILITY. Sure, some authors get more than others, but most trad- launches get a day on their publisher's websites and affiliated Internet places like Twitter, FB etc. It all helps.

Things are changing so fast in publishing now, on so many fronts, but I do maintain that if an author can get a deal that serves them well enough to launch their career, then even if they later turn to self-publishing titles ( as I have done ) what a launch-pad they will have had to get their name around! It's all about the business decision - as a first time author, a trad' deal, carefully negotiated with a good literary agent, can't yet really be beaten by self-publishing unless a true high-flier, in which case the publishers may likely come calling anyway...


Actually, many writers are doing both SP and traditional publishing. I guess it's like a diversifying your investments.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 10, 2013, 11:51:13 am
The fact is that as mentioned a traditional publisher can give a brand-new author huge REACH, from adverts in newspapers to translation deals in other countries, radio slots, posters in train stations - the one thing that we all need so much to generate sales: VISIBILITY. Sure, some authors get more than others, but most trad- launches get a day on their publisher's websites and affiliated Internet places like Twitter, FB etc. It all helps.

But only if they think you have sales potential. Many tradpub authors I know are not getting the marketing or publicity boost they want bc there are so many midlisters. If that first book tanks, it goes downhill from there.

A number of authors are having to do their own promotions, giveaways, FB parties. The only thing that helps them is to say "I am published by such and such" and that helps the authors when they call the local radio station or libraries to try to get a book talk going (I heard of authors saying they had to do the calling themselves bc they're not top sellers). I know of authors who do book signing at local community fairs when it's obvious their readers are not there. Not sure how they end up in local fairs - whether their publishers sent them there or whether they do it themselves. I also know of publishers who won't put their authors' books at certain places. One amazing author whose books I read is not found in a major brick-and-mortar bookstore. All her competition are.

So I wouldn't bank on tradpub for marketing. But what I think they have that selfpubbers don't have is Print Distribution. I guess you could say that's part of visibility. Until selfpubbers can rival the print ability of tradpub and their global distribution machinery, they have the edge. That's why I think those print deals that selfpubbers have made with tradpubs are GOLD. I read that it may not always happen.

Actually, many writers are doing both SP and traditional publishing. I guess it's like a diversifying your investments.

Yes. The best of both worlds. It's a win-win for Hybrid Authors, which I think you are one, right?

I think selfpubbers shouldn't be too quick to say "no way" either way but to see what's on the table and try to get the best of both worlds. Just my two cents, anyway.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: writerofthesky on November 10, 2013, 07:12:56 pm
Midlisters with a backlist already paid their newbie dues. New authors who start out self-pubbing have not. And their initial foray into selling books will be different then trad pub. But obviously the established authors have better luck at it. They've been around longer and are experience professionals. I don't the logic behind these sort of articles.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 10, 2013, 07:52:41 pm
Midlisters with a backlist already paid their newbie dues. New authors who start out self-pubbing have not. And their initial foray into selling books will be different then trad pub. But obviously the established authors have better luck at it. They've been around longer and are experience professionals. I don't the logic behind these sort of articles.
I don't think there are dues to be paid. I ran into that mentality from so called "experienced" authors when I first self-published Book One in my series. They had a long list of thing I should do and avoid and were never shy about relating their wisdom. Later I found that they were, for the most part, full of crap. When my first book was picked up by small press and started selling they showed me nothing but contempt. They felt being that I had not written fifty books that no one wanted to read, I did not deserve my success. This contempt grew as my books continued to sell and the series popularity grew. Now, I'm still doing quite well, and they're still sulking in their corner, blaming the world for being too stupid to understand their work.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: JRTomlin on November 10, 2013, 08:29:49 pm
It is more difficult, isn't it? Traditional (and by that I mean large publishing houses, not small press) have funding for advertisement on the web and in stores. They have contacts with highly regarded reviewers. And they have distribution in both domestic and foreign markets. Even a well established indie doesn't have all that.

People buy books published by the big six for very good reasons. The work is generally (not always) well edited, and the author is proven to have good writing skills and story-telling ability. This is confirmed through reviews by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, as well as Vine Voice amazon reviewers - naming just a few. This is no guarantee that the reader will like the book, but it is a good reason to give it a try.

We all know that there is a vast wealth of talent in the indie community. They put out work every bit as good or better than writers signed with large publishers. But we also know that there is quite a bit of ill-conceived,  unedited, trash out there too. It causes many readers to shy away from SP books, and creates further difficulty when trying to get your work noticed.

The ease of self-publishing has caused a flood of new writers to enter the market, most of which have no idea what they are doing once their book is written and uploaded to amazon. It's why many find their way to this board. They found out in a hurry that just because they put a book out there doesn't mean anyone is going to read it. Hell, some have put several out there and still don't know how to market. Others know, but don't have the funding. So, to me, it is clear why getting noticed in the indie world is far more challenging than in the traditional publishing world.

One last thing. If Penguin, Simon and Schuster, or any of the others came knocking, the majority of the people beating their chest about how much better indie is, would leave it all behind in a split second.
 
First, the 'beating their chests' comment has a very pejorative sound to it, though I don't know whether you meant it that way or not. I don't know that anyone here has that attitude.

Second, although I can't and won't assume that my reaction would be the same as everyone else's because we are all in different positions with our writing, careers and needs, but I know I would not "leave it all behind in a split second" because of their name. You seem to have a rather starry-eyed view of what a traditional publisher will do for the mid-list or lower author which is what most of us here would be.  We are (generally) assigned the least qualified editors, get poorly thought out covers, receive minimal if any promotion besides a spot in the catalog, and if we are lucky our books stays on the shelf for at most three months. And for that we give up most of the money.

Hell, no, I wouldn't jump at that offer. Now, if they came to me with the kind of offer they gave Hugh Howey (mind-bogglingly unlikely), I would look at it long and hard, but remember, he negotiated to get that. They didn't just offer it to him.

You are making a lot of assumptions, many of which I believe are at least not totally valid. Sure, some people would jump at an offer from Randy Penguin but don't assume that everyone would or that it is necessarily a wise thing to do.

ETA: And keep THIS in mind. I am what is considered a 'mid-list' author and I make a living at it. This is something that traditional mid-list authors have been told for decades was impossible.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: writerofthesky on November 10, 2013, 08:39:42 pm
I don't think there are dues to be paid. I ran into that mentality from so called "experienced" authors when I first self-published Book One in my series. They had a long list of thing I should do and avoid and were never shy about relating their wisdom. Later I found that they were, for the most part, full of crap. When my first book was picked up by small press and started selling they showed me nothing but contempt. They felt being that I had not written fifty books that no one wanted to read, I did not deserve my success. This contempt grew as my books continued to sell and the series popularity grew. Now, I'm still doing quite well, and they're still sulking in their corner, blaming the world for being too stupid to understand their work.

I'm just saying those with more experience going through those initial stages of learning craft have a higher probability of being successful. Naturally, as with all creative professions, this is not universally true as was your case.

Writing is an art and creative process not a science, the market is cruel and often unpredictable, and success at visibility uncertain. I think this inevitably breeds an environment where authors can feel marginalized or exhibit professional jealousy.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 10, 2013, 08:55:36 pm
First, the 'beating their chests' comment has a very pejorative sound to it, though I don't know whether you meant it that way or not. I don't know that anyone here has that attitude.

Second, although I can't and won't assume that my reaction would be the same as everyone else's because we are all in different positions with our writing, careers and needs, but I know I would not "leave it all behind in a split second" because of their name. You seem to have a rather starry-eyed view of what a traditional publisher will do for the mid-list or lower author which is what most of us here would be.  We are (generally) assigned the least qualified editors, get poorly thought out covers, receive minimal if any promotion besides a spot in the catalog, and if we are lucky our books stays on the shelf for at most three months. And for that we give up most of the money.

Hell, no, I wouldn't jump at that offer. Now, if they came to me with the kind of offer they gave Hugh Howey (mind-bogglingly unlikely), I would look at it long and hard, but remember, he negotiated to get that. They didn't just offer it to him.

You are making a lot of assumptions, many of which I believe are at least not totally valid. Sure, some people would jump at an offer from Randy Penguin but don't assume that everyone would or that it is necessarily a wise thing to do.

ETA: And keep THIS in mind. I am what is considered a 'mid-list' author and I make a living at it. This is something that traditional mid-list authors have been told for decades was impossible.
If I said ALL indie writers would jump at the chance that would be one thing, but as I did not, I can only assume you failed to pay attention to the wording of my post. Either that or you are purposefully trying to be confrontational. And when it comes to things I have posted here, it wouldn't be the first time. I'm beginning to think we're not pals.  :(
As far as my starry-eyed assumptions are concerned. In a later post on this thread, which by now you've likely read, I stated that at minimum I would only sign with a large publisher if the money was better than what I make now. And as I support my family in a very decent lifestyle as an indie writer, it is not an inconsiderable sum. Not so starry-eyed...unless your definition is much different than mine.
Whether I'm a mid-list author or not...beats me. I don't give it much consideration. I've sold 145,000 books as of last month from four books, since Aug. 2012. So you tell me.

 
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 10, 2013, 08:57:56 pm
I'm just saying those with more experience going through those initial stages of learning craft have a higher probability of being successful. Naturally, as with all creative professions, this is not universally true as was your case.

Writing is an art and creative process not a science, the market is cruel and often unpredictable, and success at visibility uncertain. I think this inevitably breeds an environment where authors can feel marginalized or exhibit professional jealousy.
Yeah. I was initially upset by it. I couldn't understand where it was coming from. When I got started I had this idea about a supportive community of people who through a mutual love of writing, cheer each other on. Boy! Did I ever get a shock.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: JRTomlin on November 10, 2013, 09:06:45 pm
If I said ALL indie writers would jump at the chance that would be one thing, but as I did not, I can only assume you failed to pay attention to the wording of my post. Either that or you are purposefully trying to be confrontational. And when it comes to things I have posted here, it wouldn't be the first time. I'm beginning to think we're not pals.  :(
As far as my starry-eyed assumptions are concerned. In a later post on this thread, which by now you've likely read, I stated that at minimum I would only sign with a large publisher if the money was better than what I make now. And as I support my family in a very decent lifestyle as an indie writer, it is not an inconsiderable sum. Not so starry-eyed...unless your definition is much different than mine.
Whether I'm a mid-list author or not...beats me. I don't give it much consideration. I've sold 145,000 books as of last month from four books, since Aug. 2012. So you tell me.

 
There was absolutely nothing confrontational in my post. We are allowed to disagree with each other. And if you had paid any attention at all to my wording you would know I said I could not speak for everyone. You made a very broad generalization I disagree in the post I responded and I disagreed with it for reasons I very politely explained.

It's nice you've sold well. Congratulations. By trad publishing standards, yes, that would be considered mid-list. However, that is totally unrelated to the comments I responded to. I disagree however much you have or have not sold.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 10, 2013, 09:12:59 pm
There was absolutely nothing confrontational in my post. We are allowed to disagree with each other. And if you had paid any attention at all to my wording you would know I said I could not speak for everyone. You made a very broad generalization I disagree in the post I responded and I disagreed with it for reasons I very politely explained.

It's nice you've sold well. Congratulations. By trad publishing standards, yes, that would be considered mid-list. However, that is totally unrelated to the comments I commented upon with which I disagreed and still disagree at least in part.

Then allow me to apologize.  :D
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: JRTomlin on November 10, 2013, 09:14:01 pm
Then allow me to apologize.  :D
No apology necessary.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Hugh Howey on November 10, 2013, 11:16:18 pm
We are (generally) assigned the least qualified editors, get poorly thought out covers, receive minimal if any promotion besides a spot in the catalog, and if we are lucky our books stays on the shelf for at most three months. And for that we give up most of the money.

Yup. I had people tell me that I only self-published because no publisher would have me, and I would jump ship at the first offer. It didn't matter that my first book was picked up after three weeks of querying. Or that I filed away the contract for the second book and decided to self-publish it instead.

We went through three rounds of offers from the major publishes. The 6-figure offers became 7-figure offers. I knew what my series was worth (to me), and I had to add to that the pain of giving up control and lifetime rights (which tripled the sum). There was no way publishers were going to offer enough for me to give up what I was doing. Multiple millions weren't enough. The buyout number for the series was probably $12 million. At that point, I would have suffered the indignity of saying that I was with such-and-such publisher.

I am what is considered a 'mid-list' author and I make a living at it. This is something that traditional mid-list authors have been told for decades was impossible.

Yup. This, 100%. It's the story NO ONE IS COVERING, and it drives me bonkers. Absolutely bonkers.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 11, 2013, 12:47:36 am
It's the story that traditional publishers are keen to remain that way - unheard. They keep Kindle prices of their titles high to protect paperback sales, for instance, fearing the collapse of that industry. Here in the UK, hardbacks have already imploded - nobody's really going to shell out £20 for a hardback, especially these days. Authors and publishers used to make their big money from hardbacks, so revenue is already collapsing.

Most new authors are being published direct to paperback, often with Kindle versions of their debuts released months in advance of the paperback in order to generate a "buzz" around their work.

In contrast, I see lots of authors here making a living from their SP work and that proportion is far higher than at any publisher I know of, where only top tier authors make their living full-time from writing ( I do, but I'm not top tier - it was all down to the advances and savvy financial control ). In fact, around 90% of authors in the UK make less than £10,000 per year from their writing. Not enough to survive on, by any stretch.

For those working their way up and hoping to achieve that elusive full-time writing career through SP, keep pushing forward. I think I mentioned it in another post somewhere here that you don't have to be at the "top" to do so.
Yikes! 10,000 per year? I would have to assume they have a day job. I actually do really well in the UK, about 20,000 copies in the past year. I love the Brits! My editor is a Brit. As I had said in an earlier post, it would need to be worth it for me. That is to say, if I'm not better off why do it? But then I, as well as other indie authors who have managed to gain a descent fan-base, are in a far better position to say no than an author who hasn't. I know that I can tell a large publisher to (as you say in Britain) sod off and nothing will happen other than things will continue on as they have been. And frankly, I can't complain.
But again, that's indies who are already doing well. If you are offered a contract based on the strength of your book and the tenacity of your agent, you may well take what's offered fearing the opportunity may not come again. Especially if you are not among those who are selling well SPing.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Sarah Stimson on November 11, 2013, 01:03:56 am
Can someone give me a definition of "mid-lister" please?
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 11, 2013, 01:10:00 am
20,000 copies per year is great work, by the way, especially outside your USA audience!  :)
Thanks. I actually get a real kick out of the fact that I sell about 20-30 books per month in India. And according to what I see on goodreads, I do well in Australia, Bulgaria Sweden and Norway for some odd reason.   
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Sarah Stimson on November 11, 2013, 01:22:26 am
Thanks Dean.  Really helpful.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 11, 2013, 04:56:35 am
The fact is that as mentioned a traditional publisher can give a brand-new author huge REACH, from adverts in newspapers to translation deals in other countries, radio slots, posters in train stations - the one thing that we all need so much to generate sales: VISIBILITY. Sure, some authors get more than others, but most trad- launches get a day on their publisher's websites and affiliated Internet places like Twitter, FB etc. It all helps.

They absolutely can, right now.  However, things are changing incredibly fast, and I think it's a gamble whether they will remain such a huge advantage in visibility for long.  We just don't know.  I don't think that all traditional publishers are going to go extinct, but I think they are going to have to change their gameplan significantly in order to survive.  Some of them are already seeing the writing on the wall (finally!) and doing things like offering digital-only contracts to authors (WITH NO ADVANCE...WTF).  So currently, tradpub, even with the big guys, is not necessarily going to give an author any visibility or media reach.  In that case, why bother?

In addition, many contracts put restrictions on how many books a year an author may write and how he may publish them.  Such a contract wouldn't be for me, for almost any publisher and for almost any advance, because we just don't know how hard TP is going to struggle over the next several years.  Currently it's taking publishers 18 months to two years on average to go from signed contract to shipped books.  That's time for a LOT of change in this industry, and if you've got a contract restricting what you can write and publish, that's a lot of potential money you could lose between now and then, you know?

I actually had a publisher offer me a contract for Baptism for the Dead, but I turned it down because the book wouldn't even be published until late 2014 (this was January of 2012) and the press, a fairly small one, just didn't have much budget for promoting my book and the advance wasn't nearly enough to hold me over for 2+ years.  I have never regretted that decision.  I would make the same one again in a heartbeat, even if it came from a huge press, unless I got a very significant advance.

And all that delay and all that possibility for a brutally restrictive contract could be bypassed by a fortunate author who lucks out with a great agent and a great deal, only to have her contracts cancelled for one or all of her books because things changed at the publishing house.  This has happened to more than one author I know personally who do tradpub.  Can you imagine going through years of agent-searching and submissions and another year of editing only to have your book dropped because "the vision has changed" at the publisher who signed you?  You'd have to start over from square one.

All of these things can and do happen in tradpub.  Just because it has been a great experience for you doesn't mean it's a great experience for everybody.

That's why I said I'd look very, very carefully at the contract before I'd sign anything.  Things are changing too fast to accept overly long waits for publication, dinky advances, and especially restrictions on what one does with the rest of one's work.

Quote
Things are changing so fast in publishing now, on so many fronts,

Exactly!

Quote
but I do maintain that if an author can get a deal that serves them well enough to launch their career, then even if they later turn to self-publishing titles ( as I have done ) what a launch-pad they will have had to get their name around! It's all about the business decision - as a first time author, a trad' deal, carefully negotiated with a good literary agent, can't yet really be beaten by self-publishing unless a true high-flier,

Well, your model requires that one get a good literary agent first.  While that works out fantastically for some, like you (an hooray that it's been such a great ride for you), it doesn't work out well for everybody, as we've gone round and round about in other threads.  In fact, for most authors the search for a suitable agent delays things by YEARS.  In that time, she could be self-publishing and gaining her platform that way, and turning into one of those high fliers.  Most of those high fliers didn't become high fliers by magic.  They wrote excellent books (usually several of them), and then they promoted them well and intelligently.  And for most of them, it has reduced the frustrating wait in finding agents and publishers, if that's what they want.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 11, 2013, 09:14:42 am
Thanks. I actually get a real kick out of the fact that I sell about 20-30 books per month in India. And according to what I see on goodreads, I do well in Australia, Bulgaria Sweden and Norway for some odd reason.   

Out of curiosity, did you sell your books written in American English or did you edit it into UK English for those countries? Just wondering about the mechanics of it. TQ.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 11, 2013, 09:22:20 am
In addition, many contracts put restrictions on how many books a year an author may write and how he may publish them.

This was one of the major turning points for me when I was deciding TP vs SP.

TP authors I know of who are prolific are unable to publish more than one book a year due to the inability of their publishers to handle it bc of many reasons e.g. they have many authors lined up for publication, their editors are swamped, the marketing department wants things published to coincide with events, limited resources, whatever. In fact some TP authors are advertising now for books that won't come out for another year. It's sad, really.

Some of those authors are trying to negotiate with their TP to "allow" them to write shorter works in between their full-length novels. Some of them are also trying out SP in unrelated genres.

Now I am waiting to see the trends of smaller TP that might let their authors write more books per year because they have a smaller author pool and production timeline and lower overheads.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Error404 on November 11, 2013, 09:29:06 am
After glancing through this thread the last couple of days, all I've taken away is that the definition of 'success' is very subjective.  There was a thread on KBoards quite a few months back where everyone was asked what they considered success.  Most chose a liveable income over fame and fortune (less stress that way).  Is a liveable income no longer possible?  Is that the definition of success people keep assuming is impossible now?

On a related note, somebody above mentioned that £10,000 wasn't a liveable income.  I could happily live off of that much a year (hence my comment about success having a subjective definition).
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Claudia King on November 11, 2013, 09:41:25 am
Success in general is very hard to find for "emerging authors who are still finding their audience". I don't think the slush pile is any more forgiving than getting lost in the depths of the KDP sales ranks, but heck, at least when you have a book up on Amazon you usually get some sales to reassure you that you're not a terrible hack.
I doubt I'd even have gotten a single book written if I'd been forced to go down the traditional publishing route.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Richardcrasta on November 11, 2013, 09:48:16 am
Publishers seem to think they are doing you a favour by publishing your book, but without authors writing stories there wouldn't be any publishers in the first place. Treat authors with a bit more respect.

Good point!
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 11, 2013, 09:57:18 am
Now I am waiting to see the trends of smaller TP that might let their authors write more books per year because they have a smaller author pool and production timeline and lower overheads.

Yes.  I have a very strong suspicion that smaller presses that are able to be more nimble and flexible with their releases and their contracts will really come into their own over the next few years...  In many ways they look like a much more palatable option than the boilerplate contract from a major TP.

Is a liveable income no longer possible?  Is that the definition of success people keep assuming is impossible now?

Not according to my bank account.  

Quote
On a related note, somebody above mentioned that £10,000 wasn't a liveable income.  I could happily live off of that much a year (hence my comment about success having a subjective definition).

Totally depends on where you're living, for certain.  In some areas, it's a perfectly comfortable income.  Where I live (Seattle), well...I made $11,000 in 2010 and I was so poor that I could only budget $75 per month for food.  I ate essentially nothing but lentils, rice, and apples for that year.  So a person can survive on it in a major city, but I wouldn't recommend it!  And goodness help you if you need to go to a doctor, even for a minor condition!
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Sarah Stimson on November 11, 2013, 10:06:01 am
 And goodness help you if you need to go to a doctor, even for a minor condition!

Not such an issue for us in the UK as our healthcare (and prescription medicine if you are poor enough) are free.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: cinisajoy on November 11, 2013, 10:07:27 am
After glancing through this thread the last couple of days, all I've taken away is that the definition of 'success' is very subjective.  There was a thread on KBoards quite a few months back where everyone was asked what they considered success.  Most chose a liveable income over fame and fortune (less stress that way).  Is a liveable income no longer possible?  Is that the definition of success people keep assuming is impossible now?

On a related note, somebody above mentioned that £10,000 wasn't a liveable income.  I could happily live off of that much a year (hence my comment about success having a subjective definition).
You could ask 100 people what they considered success and you would get 200 different answers.
Is a liveable income possible, the answer is yes but in any field you will have to work hard to get it.   This applies rather you are a writer, musician or hvac guy/girl.

The big thing (problem) in the writing field is that some people think oh I can write a book, put it on Amazon and make a fortune with no other work involved.   I do not think the world works that way.

Success is all in how you look at it.   For some people, success might be the ability to pay the rent and buy diapers.  For others it might be making $500 a day.   For others that magically number might be a 1 million.
Some people think they need a partner to be successful, others don't.
Success depends solely on what a person thinks it is.    
Although sometimes other people's perceptions are fun too.   I am not a singer (although I did take 3 years of choir) but I was once offered a job as a lounge singer.   It was not I was that good, it was solely that I was better than the other 2 I was singing with.  So I guess I was a successful singer that night.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: writerofthesky on November 11, 2013, 10:23:50 am
Yes.  I have a very strong suspicion that smaller presses that are able to be more nimble and flexible with their releases and their contracts will really come into their own over the next few years...  In many ways they look like a much more palatable option than the boilerplate contract from a major TP.

I agree with you that a small business with fewer cooperate and bureaucratic restrictions can better adapt to immediate changes in the marketplace.
However, I can also see smaller presses being more constrained in regards to the financials. 

If I had to predict I would say the big publishers will cut their losses and concentrate on larger markets and leave the niche markets to the smaller press and SP. Much like the movie industry focuses on males 15-35is because that demographic goes to the movies so much and independent films fill some of the gap.

But I wonder if authors will want to surrender their books to the smaller presses. Perhaps, instead, if the can't get one of the "Big 5" or is it 6?, they'd rather just self-pub as it has lost much of its stigma and it can only become more acceptable as the years go on. I wonder if the smaller presses will be able to offer authors the advance they seek or the same prestige. So mostly I wonder if instead of small presses filling those niche gaps it will be self-pubbers or maybe groups of authors that form together to share services like translation or book cover design or foreign rights.

I only recently became interested in writing again after finishing college so I have no direct experience with TP (big or small) since the most economically viable option seems to be SP so I may be entirely wrong.   
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: 31842 on November 11, 2013, 10:38:34 am
Yes to what everyone else has said.  But having been around the self-publishing world for a couple years now, I feel like we're starting to go into the tail-end of the gold rush (which is not a bad thing!).  I remember when YouTube came out, people started making webseries.  Pretty soon the studios weren't accepting scripts anymore.  They began using YouTube as the new slush pile and told every aspiring writer/director/etc. I know to produce a webseries instead and send them the link.  A handful of projects were scooped up for deals with Xbox and Sony, and they were optioned for TV shows and movies.  Pretty soon YouTube was filled with a glut of webseries.  Happily, production values increased as the competition for attention became more fierce.  People decided to stay on YouTube rather than option their projects because of the ad revenue.  But then those optioned projects didn't turn into the bajillion-dollar money makers that the studios expected, friends on Facebook started getting tired of being asked to watch another five-minute short, and everything slowed down.  But the fallout now is that I've seen creators start making shows more aimed at quality rather than just the shows they thought would make the money rain.

On our end, I feel like last year there were a lot of news articles about how you could print your own money by self-pubbing.  But the madness seems to have tapered off a bit.  The offers still come in, but not at the rate they were in 2011 and 2012.  The Top 100 seems to be dominated by self-pubbers who have been around awhile instead of the insta-hits.  I think everyone is just a bit more savvy, writers and readers alike.   I feel like things have stabilized from "shiny new technology!" to "normal".  I could be wrong and just be describing the trunk of the elephant, but it does seem like there has been a bit of a shift this year.  YMMV.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: ElHawk on November 11, 2013, 11:01:06 am
I think everyone is just a bit more savvy, writers and readers alike.   I feel like things have stabilized from "shiny new technology!" to "normal".  I could be wrong and just be describing the trunk of the elephant, but it does seem like there has been a bit of a shift this year.  YMMV.

I think you're right...and I think it's a great thing!
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: JRTomlin on November 11, 2013, 11:12:19 am
Can someone give me a definition of "mid-lister" please?
I believe where the phrase came from is from publisher catalog lists. The bestsellers go at the top and those with some following in the middle, thus 'mid-list'. Anyway, that's what I've been told. It is a somewhat out of date term but still applies to those of us who achieve some following and regular sales but nowhere near bestsellerdom. :)
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 11, 2013, 11:43:35 am
Out of curiosity, did you sell your books written in American English or did you edit it into UK English for those countries? Just wondering about the mechanics of it. TQ.
It's all American English. My UK following built gradually really exploding over the past six months. As for the rest, I was a surprise to me when I started to notice it.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Sarah Stimson on November 11, 2013, 11:45:27 am
It's all American English. My UK following built gradually really exploding over the past six months. As for the rest, I was a surprise to me when I started to notice it.

As a British reader, it never bothers me when it's in American English.



Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: JRTomlin on November 11, 2013, 12:33:11 pm
They absolutely can, right now.  However, things are changing incredibly fast, and I think it's a gamble whether they will remain such a huge advantage in visibility for long.  We just don't know.  I don't think that all traditional publishers are going to go extinct, but I think they are going to have to change their gameplan significantly in order to survive.  Some of them are already seeing the writing on the wall (finally!) and doing things like offering digital-only contracts to authors (WITH NO ADVANCE...WTF).  So currently, tradpub, even with the big guys, is not necessarily going to give an author any visibility or media reach.  In that case, why bother?

In addition, many contracts put restrictions on how many books a year an author may write and how he may publish them.  Such a contract wouldn't be for me, for almost any publisher and for almost any advance, because we just don't know how hard TP is going to struggle over the next several years.  Currently it's taking publishers 18 months to two years on average to go from signed contract to shipped books.  That's time for a LOT of change in this industry, and if you've got a contract restricting what you can write and publish, that's a lot of potential money you could lose between now and then, you know?

I actually had a publisher offer me a contract for Baptism for the Dead, but I turned it down because the book wouldn't even be published until late 2014 (this was January of 2012) and the press, a fairly small one, just didn't have much budget for promoting my book and the advance wasn't nearly enough to hold me over for 2+ years.  I have never regretted that decision.  I would make the same one again in a heartbeat, even if it came from a huge press, unless I got a very significant advance.

And all that delay and all that possibility for a brutally restrictive contract could be bypassed by a fortunate author who lucks out with a great agent and a great deal, only to have her contracts cancelled for one or all of her books because things changed at the publishing house.  This has happened to more than one author I know personally who do tradpub.  Can you imagine going through years of agent-searching and submissions and another year of editing only to have your book dropped because "the vision has changed" at the publisher who signed you?  You'd have to start over from square one.

All of these things can and do happen in tradpub.  Just because it has been a great experience for you doesn't mean it's a great experience for everybody.

That's why I said I'd look very, very carefully at the contract before I'd sign anything.  Things are changing too fast to accept overly long waits for publication, dinky advances, and especially restrictions on what one does with the rest of one's work.

Exactly!

Well, your model requires that one get a good literary agent first.  While that works out fantastically for some, like you (an hooray that it's been such a great ride for you), it doesn't work out well for everybody, as we've gone round and round about in other threads.  In fact, for most authors the search for a suitable agent delays things by YEARS.  In that time, she could be self-publishing and gaining her platform that way, and turning into one of those high fliers.  Most of those high fliers didn't become high fliers by magic.  They wrote excellent books (usually several of them), and then they promoted them well and intelligently.  And for most of them, it has reduced the frustrating wait in finding agents and publishers, if that's what they want.

One of the details that is left out is that it is approximated that 90% of the manuscripts agents take on never sell. *boggle*

No, I can't back that up although I've read it many times. It does reflect what I have heard from many, many authors who were excited at signing with an agent and then nothing happened. And before self-publishing, all my sales were made on my own; my agent never sold a thing. Dean Wesley Smith says that an agent's job should be negotiation, not selling and that is something to think about. But what if you don't have anything to negotiate.

Obviously, sometimes an agent is a good idea, but for many of us, an agent would be a bit like an appendix.  ::) :P
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 11, 2013, 12:53:15 pm
One of the details that is left out is that it is approximated that 90% of the manuscripts agents take on never sell. *boggle*

No, I can't back that up although I've read it many times. It does reflect what I have heard from many, many authors who were excited at signing with an agent and then nothing happened. And before self-publishing, all my sales were made on my own; my agent never sold a thing. Dean Wesley Smith says that an agent's job should be negotiation, not selling and that is something to think about. But what if you don't have anything to negotiate.

Obviously, sometimes an agent is a good idea, but for many of us, an agent would be a bit like an appendix.  ::) :P

LOL. I read that as "an agent would be a bit like an appendicitis." (No offense to agents at large.)

I don't have stats either but I have anecdotes where writers with agents found their manuscripts languishing in slush piles anyway because their agents were not able to find a publisher who wanted said manuscripts for whatever reasons. If it goes on too long, that is sometimes the reason for the agent and writer parting ways.

I'm seeing these days some authors putting on their website little blurbs like "Represented by [fill-in-blank] agency" but then blog about "some day I'll be published." So yes, I agree with you. Just by getting an agent is not an automatic pass to publishing. In fact, I have heard of agents waiting for 2-4 years before their agents sold their first publishable book.

Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Ugg on November 11, 2013, 01:38:08 pm
As a British reader, it never bothers me when it's in American English.




I've noticed that's the case. US readers can be a bit funny about it, but I think it's something UK readers expect. They seem to make the mental adjustment without a problem. The first time I read The Lord of the Rings I was quite young and remember being taken aback by words like colour, labour, and the like. My uncle had to explain it to me.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: Jan Thompson on November 11, 2013, 01:54:02 pm
As a British reader, it never bothers me when it's in American English.

Thanks. That's good to know. I asked bc some of the authors out there e.g. James Patterson and Michael Connelly, have different covers for their UK editions, something not all of us can afford, and I often wondered if they made a special edition to switch to UK English though I couldn't tell right away.
Title: Re: Self-publishing is "more elusive for emerging authors?"
Post by: JRTomlin on November 11, 2013, 03:20:32 pm
LOL. I read that as "an agent would be a bit like an appendicitis." (No offense to agents at large.)

I don't have stats either but I have anecdotes where writers with agents found their manuscripts languishing in slush piles anyway because their agents were not able to find a publisher who wanted said manuscripts for whatever reasons. If it goes on too long, that is sometimes the reason for the agent and writer parting ways.

I'm seeing these days some authors putting on their website little blurbs like "Represented by [fill-in-blank] agency" but then blog about "some day I'll be published." So yes, I agree with you. Just by getting an agent is not an automatic pass to publishing. In fact, I have heard of agents waiting for 2-4 years before their agents sold their first publishable book.


LOL Well, a bad agent might be like appendicitis. An agent you don't need is more like an unneeded appendage.