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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
abbreviated version of latest Write It Forward blog post at http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/

Authors have a choice in publishing. That's the good news. The bad news is, depending on how people view the choice, they appear to be taking sides and viewing one choice as "good and smart" and the opposite as "bad and dumb".

I use the term indie for one who self-publishes and trad for those who are published via a traditional publishing house. I've copyrighted them and you need to pay me any time you use them. Joking.

Adding to the conflict is the fact that others with a stake in the issue: booksellers, editors, agents, indie bookstores, aliens from Area 51, etc. are wading into it with their own opinions.

I'm going to address some of the issues.

E-books: they're here, they're not only staying, they're going to increase in numbers, exponentially. Yes, a person might swear they'll never stop buying their hardcovers until their cold, stiff fingers are pried from them. Great. But reality is reality.

Established Authors: What we're really seeing is a hybrid author. One who has a contract with a trad publisher and also rights to some backlist which they're self-publishing. This is a win-win for all involved. In fact, it would behoove publishers who control rights, but aren't pushing them, to renegotiate with your authors. Give them a much higher royalty rate, or even more drastic, do reverse royalties. Give the rights back to the authors with a contract where they pay you a percentage what they sell, say 25%. I guarantee you will make more money than you imagine if that author is making 75% self-publishing the titles and promoting them.

New Authors: Write more. Too many people are pouring the time and energy into promotion that they should be putting into learning the craft of writing. The best promotion technique available is a good book. And more than one title. In fact, I think new authors should wait until they have at least three novels in a series, before they focus a good majority of their time on promoting.

Build Teams: I think writers should band together, especially if they have books in the same genres.

Agents, publishers and bookstores: Adapt to this new reality. The focus needs to shift from the traditional distribution end to the author and the book. I've got the #3 scifi ebook in the UK yet not a single UK publisher has inquired about the print rights. The email I sent to a publisher was ignored. This isn't taking a chance, this is an opportunity to publish a book that obviously sells. Yet I see so little initiative being shown on the traditional side of the house.

Accept hybrid authors and support them. No publisher viewed my backlist as an asset. I never understood that, although distribution was a chokepoint, but now, with ebooks, someone like me is, frankly, gold. Yet, publishers have little interest, going about business as usual. Reading PW Deals every day, I see some slight changes, but overall, it seems as if the business model is the same.

Publishers, don't sit on books just because you have the rights. Consider the reverse royalty concept suggested above. Agents, push this.
 

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Bob Mayer said:
New Authors: Write more. Too many people are pouring the time and energy into promotion that they should be putting into learning the craft of writing. The best promotion technique available is a good book. And more than one title. In fact, I think new authors should wait until they have at least three novels in a series, before they focus a good majority of their time on promoting.
Great post as usual, Bob. I've decided to take the above strategy. I'm working on a series, but I find that I've been distracted by the sales and promotion of the first book. As a newbie writer, I'm trying to cut back on worrying about the few sales i get a day (even less recently) and focus more on finishing my series, improving my writing, and enjoying the process. Thanks for posting this.
 

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Love this Bob, particularly the term hybrid author. Why the them vs. us, I'll never know.

I hope to one day be one of these hybrid authors. That might mean selling ebooks on my own and selling something totally new through traditional, or possibly my ebooks taking off and having my agent sell the print rights, or maybe some combination I haven't even thought of yet. In any case, I feel like the "don't put all your eggs in one basket" idea is now, happily, a reality for authors. 
 

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The indie vs trad is an evolving issue. First we heard a great deal about how crappy self-published work was. However, that has let up as established authors with solid track records have begun to self-publish their backlists. It's hard to call those books crappy. Now the discussion has moved to which is the better opportunity, and is more concerned with success and profit than quality. That one will be easy to measure on an individual basis, but much more difficult to measure on an aggregate basis.

At the same time, Amazon has stepped up as a publisher. What category do they occupy? I suggest it's a new category called Retail Publisher.
 
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Bob Mayer said:
Build Teams: I think writers should band together, especially if they have books in the same genres.
I'm founding Team Awesome! Who wants to join? Realistically if you ask you're probably not going to make it in.
 

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The vs thing never made sense to me. It's like saying self-employed vs employed. No one thinks that way. There are people who need or want a boss, people who hate having a boss, and bunch in the middle who do a 9-5 and freelance or run a business out of their house in their spare time.

I don't see why writing has to be any different. Of course, I can't stand people telling me what to do, am working on developing an income stream where the client has no input, and still get job-types asking when I'm going to come back and get a "real job". Same thing happens with publishing, I'm sure. Some people just don't fit into a regimented setting. People will still ask them when they're going to become a "real writer", or repub their backlist with a "real publisher". They're just more comfortable with the structure jobs and publishers provide--it feels like security to them. Also, I suspect that indies are bad for publishers--they tend to know more about business, track their money, and expect to be payed on time (something anyone who's taken an accounting class knows will never happen).

So while I might stick solidly to indie (because my work sucks or for control reasons), that doesn't make me better or worse. It just makes me a control freak.

Right, now off to the bank, then hunt down some breakfast, and then back to work.

-j.
 

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Maybe the UK literary agents are more hard nosed, but there is quite a few reports of them achieving 50% royalties. Of course the overall sales are slower in the UK, so maybe that is a factor.
 

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Bob Mayer said:
abbreviated version of latest Write It Forward blog post at http://writeitforward.wordpress.com/

New Authors: Write more. Too many people are pouring the time and energy into promotion that they should be putting into learning the craft of writing. The best promotion technique available is a good book. And more than one title. In fact, I think new authors should wait until they have at least three novels in a series, before they focus a good majority of their time on promoting.

Build Teams: I think writers should band together, especially if they have books in the same genres.


Accept hybrid authors and support them
. No publisher viewed my backlist as an asset. I never understood that, although distribution was a chokepoint, but now, with ebooks, someone like me is, frankly, gold. Yet, publishers have little interest, going about business as usual. Reading PW Deals every day, I see some slight changes, but overall, it seems as if the business model is the same.

Publishers, don't sit on books just because you have the rights. Consider the reverse royalty concept suggested above. Agents, push this.
Bolding is mine. I think this is my favorite article from you yet!!!
 

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My writing friends & I banned together and formed DarkSide Publishing to help each other out. We've been very happy with our results and it's great having close friends to lean on.

Last night on Twitter, a NYT bestselling YA author called out a popular indie author, calling her work trashy, and implying that indies haven't earned the right to be published. It's tiring. Why do people insist on doing this? I don't trash trad authors. I have MANY friends who are trad published and I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I've also been a called a "cheater" and a "traitor" by some people I thought were my friends. I don't get it. No one is negating the hard work they've done. Why do they have to dump on me?

It's like saying coconut creme pie is the only good dessert and looking down on peanut butter cup pie. I hate coconuts, but I could care less if anyone else wants to eat them. Don't hate me for liking peanut butter cups! ;)

Thanks for the post!

Megg
 
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lazyjayn said:
The vs thing never made sense to me. It's like saying self-employed vs employed. No one thinks that way. There are people who need or want a boss, people who hate having a boss, and bunch in the middle who do a 9-5 and freelance or run a business out of their house in their spare time.
This is a brilliant statement.
 

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What they say (Good post, Bob).  

"Build Teams:  I think writers should band together, especially if they have books in the same genres."  

Yes, given the 'Sunshine' (not for me) sale, I think this is more obvious now.  Amazon really needed us when there was not much 'product' or 'content' when they launched Kindle.  Now, not so much.  And when publishing houses can negotiate discounts for huge blocks of books, they run off of the top lists.  

What to do?  I agree with Bob, band together, maybe by Genre, WITH some sort of 'vetting' procedure perhaps.


"Agents, publishers and bookstores:  Adapt to this new reality.  The focus needs to shift from the traditional distribution end to the author and the book.  I’ve got the #3 scifi ebook in the UK yet not a single UK publisher has inquired about the print rights.  The email I sent to a publisher was ignored.  This isn’t taking a chance, this is an opportunity to publish a book that obviously sells.  Yet I see so little initiative being shown on the traditional side of the house."

Bob, I was actually heartened when I read this.  For quite a while, my historical was selling well, better than many Big NYC House titles, but I couldn't entice an agency to take a look, well, only two.  What does that tell you?  Maybe they're all sitting around discussing how to update a resume, or the opportunities in real estate.  I don't know.  But, yes, they're not paying attention to the lists.

Anyway, when will the pall this sunshine shit cast be lifted?   :'(

That's okay.  Like the Buddha said, I can think, I can wait, and I can write.  And I am.

Best!

 

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Agents, publishers and bookstores:  Adapt to this new reality.  The focus needs to shift from the traditional distribution end to the author and the book.  I’ve got the #3 scifi ebook in the UK yet not a single UK publisher has inquired about the print rights.  The email I sent to a publisher was ignored.  This isn’t taking a chance, this is an opportunity to publish a book that obviously sells.  Yet I see so little initiative being shown on the traditional side of the house.
Quote.

I hear what you are saying, but I know of one person at least whose serial killer thriller rocketed in to the top five (overall) in the UK and had 3 agents and 1 publisher enquiry. The book was Burn Baby Burn, by Jake Barton. Then there was another self published author who came to the attention of Harper Collins when he sold 5,000 of his self published print books in his own town. The book market is different in the UK. The equivalent of Barnes and Noble is Waterstones. They allow managers to have a section for indie books and encourage book signings, even for POD. American authors seeking publication in the UK have the same problem as UK authors seeking publication in the US. They can't as a rule make themselves available for the book signings/media marketing that goes with the contract.  
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I like the employer and self-employed comment.  I really am seeing more and more authors taking both paths and I think more options is always good.  Being honest, there is no way I'd be achieving the success I'm having as an "indie" without my traditionally published backlist and also having a new release come out traditionally this year.

Also, and this is key, going through my first books to make sure they were ready to upload, I cringe at some of my early writing (not they're not good and you shouldn't buy them), but I can clearly see how I've evolved as a writer by learning craft over the past 20 year and 50 manuscripts.
 

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"The elephant in the room"... you got THAT right!!

I've been trying to find a group of people who are doing what I'm doing and self-publish. I've wanted to learn more and more to make improvements, but I've gone to several forums and there's nothing but debates and criticisms both ways. As soon as the word "self-publish" enters into the conversation, a complete blow-out happens and the knowledge of information to pass to each other is lost.

It took me some time to find the Kindle Boards (for some reason I kept thinking the Amazon Discussions were the KindleBoards and those sites were too hard to navigate and I never found any information). I'm so glad that I've finally found "the somewhere" where I can get more information from people like me--The BIG Elephant.

I remember when iUniverse came about and I heard of sooooo many bad books produced from there, and so I thought I should never go that route. I should never self-publish because it was bad. But since 2000, I kept my eye out on self-publishing to see how things were going; but it still was bad.


It wasn't until 2008 that I decided to make the plunge and read a self-published book and saw that, it was great! And finally learned that there were some people who had very good self-publsihed books. It inspired me to do the same thing and I have been going at it ever since...and Loving it!

Today I can't wait to see how in five (5) or more years, what authors would say about books. Because today, I know that the average reader doesn't know the difference between trade or self published book, like they would have know when iUniverse was the big thing. They just know if they like it or don't.

Tomorrow, authors will have a different view, I'm sure.
 

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When I started writing a few years back, I had no contacts in the writing world. Zero. So I had no exposure to this rising tempest of debate. As I started developing contacts and nearing completion of my novel, all of these people wanted to know when I would start sending out query letters. Honestly, I had read about these letters in Stephen King's On Writing, but hadn't given the idea much thought. Apparently even my wife was more worried about this than I had been. So, I started doing some research into "getting published", and also stumbled onto some self-publishing articles, which immediately appealed to me way more than the traditional publishing route. Still, I committed to doing both, but significantly dragged my heels on sending out query letters.

I set myself up on Amazon and B&N, did a little marketing on some niche web forums, and my book started to sell (slowly). But I was still embarrassed to admit that I had done this. I even kept it a secret from a good writer friend, who had told me a few times that this would be the death of my book for publishers, and that agents wouldn't touch me if I self-published. Then I stumbled upon Joe Konrath's blog, and that was the end of my traditional quest. Of course, it didn't hurt that my book had sold over a 1000 copies that month (I couldn't imagine 1000 per day...wow)

In total, I had fired off less than ten query letters, mostly by email, and received the same number of rejections soon later. I didn't feel the least bit bad about it. I couldn't have cared less, because people were reading my book, now! It's funny how dirty I felt writing each query letter, like I was begging. I can't explain it, but it wasn't my style. I was relieved to find like minded authors doing the same thing.

And now that traditionally published authors are taking the hybrid approach, I am even more relieved, because this truly doesn't have to be a one way or the other approach...and if a publisher makes me a reasonable offer, I have my buyout point. I'm a practical person, with no intention of drawing a line in the sand, and stubbornly standing in one place. I hope we hear from more authors like Bob Mayer.
 
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