It’s decision time – which route will you take? Pursue a traditional publishing deal or go Indie?
I’m sorta hedging my bets just now, and trying for the hybrid route (bit of both), but on many grounds I’m leaning more and more towards the Indie route for a whole heap of reasons. Thought I’d share a bit of both experiences to better help you make up your own mind.
I am a traditionally published author. I have 2 non-fiction books, one hardback, one softback, in print, and they sell small numbers but steadily. I got an advance on each, and in addition to book store and internet sales, I buy them at author’s discounted rate and sell them myself, making a bit of profit.
The good things about being with a big publisher:
- Validation – my writing (and knowledge) are deemed worthwhile to be put out there in front of the public.
- The advance payment – not having to wait until the book is out there before seeing any income.
- I don’t have to do anything other than write the text, and provide suitable photographs for illustration.
- My work is professionally edited.
- My covers were designed and provided.
- An index is provided.
- The marketing department arrange review copies and send me nice little photographs of my reviews.
- A Christmas card each year, signed by my commissioning editor.
- I already know my knowledge is good enough, as is my writing. I’ve been writing features in magazines for years and I am an acknowledged expert in my field (dressage training).
- The advance. Oh yes, I got one for each book: £2000 to be precise. But that’s split into 3 parts: one third on signing the contract, one third on delivering an acceptable manuscript, and the last third on publication – minus what they paid someone to provide the index. Until they ‘earn out’, i.e. my publisher makes back the advance, I won’t be paid any more. At my earning rate of about £2 per book, that’s going to take a while. Book 1 has been out for 5 years, and is nearly there, Book 2 has been out 3 years now and will take about the same length of time, sigh. Buying them and selling them on nets me around £8 per book – much more like it, and it goes straight into my bank account.
- Writing the text is no problem. The photographs, on the other hand – nightmare! 50 high quality photographs per book, for which my publisher provided £500 towards costs. When you work with animals (remember that ‘never work with animals or children’ thing that actors talk about? Same applies to illustrative photography) you need to take around 50 snaps to find one usable one. Go on, do the math. That’s a lot of photos. Not only will it take numerous shoots, but just you try organising horses that are feeling co-operative, a photographer and sunny weather for that all-important quality, all on the same day. Fun – not.
- My editor was great – I was just a tad miffed that he decided to use my format for the next book he edited as well – which happened to be by someone famous and so with more selling power.
- I like my covers, but it would have been nice to have some say in them.
- If I’d known the cost of the index was coming out of my advance, I’d have tackled it myself.
- The marketing department? Outsourced and, in my opinion, hardly worth the effort. All they did was send out a few review copies and that was that. I have done all my own marketing – arranged signings (to which I take my own purchased copies to sell), written and sold magazine features to highlight them, put them on my website, and sold them to all my clients, and at venues where I give training clinics. This year I’m doing a leaflet drop at a trade show.
- The Christmas card is nice 🙂
I can’t give as much information on this route yet, as I’ve not yet published my first, but it’s due out on 29th July, so I’ve done plenty of research at this stage. I know I have lots more to learn and experience, but so far the positives have been:
- I can write what I like. That doesn’t mean I’m ignoring rules of good writing, or being reckless with my content, but I don’t have to fit myself into a publisher’s niche, or play the game of trying to write what they want, rather than what I want.
- I can be in complete control of my own costs. I have an excellent writer’s group I work with, and developmental editing is down to them – with payment in editing their work in return. Ditto to the proofreading as one of the group has trained in that sphere. I found my own cover designer, by approaching someone whose cover I really liked, and although I’ve paid for it, I’m in love with my cover (reveal coming very soon – July 2nd – exciting!)
- Writing is at my own pace – I’m used to writing to deadlines, but thought of doing it relentlessly gives me the collywobbles.
- Outsourcing anything I don’t want to learn myself, like formatting, is easy. You can outsource any bit you want with a little research; there are plenty but plenty of people out there willing and expert at doing what you don’t want to do.
- Marketing will be at my own pace too – I have plenty of experience with the two books I have out there, and although I realise that marketing fiction will not be the same, being my own marketing department will be best for my book as I’m going to be unfailingly enthusiastic about it!
- I get to keep a much bigger percentage of every sale, and it comes directly to me 🙂
- It’s been a long and steep learning curve, but now I’ve done it once, I won’t need to repeat.
- I’m putting money up front, in terms of cover design, formatting and some marketing, but it’s not a great amount to get a business of the ground – and this is a business.
- Time – Indie publishing eats it.
Not having a publisher behind me. Erm, what did my publisher do for me? Not much.
- No Christmas card – think I’ll live 😉
So there you have it – my thoughts on the great debate thus far.
I will fill you in later, once my book has gone live, and review how I feel about it then.
In the meanwhile, I have to admit to still hedging my bets – I have an Urban Fantasy out with an agent. But after my experience with the one I’m about to publish (which did the rounds of the then Big Six, for over a year but still didn’t sell), I reckon if this one doesn’t get snapped up pretty quickly, I’ll just go ahead and publish it myself. After all, I’ve learned the ropes now, so why not?
How about you? Have you made the decision, or are you prevaricating, like me?