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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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 Methinks Harper Collins is trying to dissuade unpublished writers from self-publishing instead of querying agents.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
 

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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.
 

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ElHawk said:
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.
 

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ElHawk said:
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!
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Annette_g said:
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).
 

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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...
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
ktashbury said:
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.

PulpDogg said:
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
 

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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.
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
ElHawk said:
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.

Lady Vine said:
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.
 

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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.
 

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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
 

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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. ::)
 

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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.
 

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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. 
 

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JanThompson said:
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.
 
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