Well, of course, how you eventually publish is up to you. As a writer, you have not just persistence to run the race, but you are in control.
Or are you?
Okay, so today I am not speaking about the writing process, the rewriting, the editing, your brand, and platform. We have other things to chit-chat about!
You’ve completed that novel, written a synopsis, query, proposal, cover letter, you’ve received your rejections and recovered. You’ve rewritten and edited–in short, you’re are so sick of your novel, you’re about ready to burn it.
Don’t do it! Stop, drop and roll! Who remembers that phrase?
Marshmallows are a better choice than burning the house (manuscript) down. Use these sweet puffs of sugar over a campfire. Otherwise that’s sort of like being so sweaty after working outside that you go into the bathroom and cut all your hair off. I swear, I didn’t do anything like that. <cough>
Let’s talk about pros/cons, the positive/negative of different types of publishing, and avoiding falling into a trap. They all have them. Yet, there is no right or wrong. There is, however, good and bad.
Ghostwriting. This is where you tell someone what you want written. They will understand you, they get you… right? They write it for a minimum of $15,000. If you have enough for a house, perhaps you can afford upwards of $40,000. With the more spendy outfit, you will get what you pay for, and a better novel. And that’s the upside! The downside? You may have given the right to another to use their voice to speak the words you want. The cost tends to be prohibitive. They may want their name on it, so it’s obvious it’s ghosted. Unless you are a politician or celebrity. That cost is for their work of writing an entire novel off an idea. Now you have to recoup that investment. Yikes!
Vanity Presses. You have written a first draft. Perhaps through a contest. I don’t eschew contests for word count such as NanoWrimo, because by the time you’ve finished you have a draft. Not rewritten, not edited. The upside: you’re part is done but you will be charged upfront for a package to get your draft into shape. There is often a bait and switch involved and that’s still the upside. They call it vanity for a reason (this is how they refer to you, by the way).
The downside: the majority of vanity presses fix your formatting and put a cover on it, fix a few spelling errors and that’s it. Oh, you have your words and thoughts down, all right, but they haven’t been filtered, rewritten, edited. And the cost can be in the thousands. Even traditional publishing houses will send you to an ‘arm’ of their company. Do research and don’t shell out a dime, because you have to recoup that investment–again! And some want royalties on top of that. My two cents…
Self-publishing. This is the fastest growing sector, especially for people who are frustrated with the book industry. The pros: your book is done, you can have it on the shelves within a few days. There are a lot of successful self-publishers, and I know a few. Their writing is stellar. They have done everything that needs to be done for their manuscript to create a fantastic read. One name that comes to the surface immediately is Dale Amidei. I don’t care what genre you read. Read one (or more, you’ll get sucked in) and you will see exactly what I mean. However…
Cons: Many self-published writers decline to do the work, take critiques, advice, work the craft. They throw a horrid draft out there and call themselves internationally renowned. Let’s say you are good. Just like any book, you have to market it. You design it, format it, choose the font, the size of print, purchase an ISBN number, the copyright, pay a graphic artist, you write the blurb, tagline and log line. You pay thousands for editing/proofing ($3000-4000 for a good edit, or more). Once again, you must recoup your investment, and on sites like Amazon/Kindle that can be 99 cents to 10 bucks. If it sucks, your name is now associated with bad writing. But wait! The self-publishing outfit gets royalties, too. Fifteen percent or more. You now have to recoup your investment in your royalties to pay off the graphic artist, editing (and by the way, editors cost by the hour, $30-40 is the going rate). Last, if you want to go traditional, most agents and publishers do not count self-publishing as published.
Indie. This does not stand for sending your manuscript to India. I would never, ever believe that. Ever. <laughs maniacally>
Indie is perhaps the best method, these days. Check your genre and Google big Indie publishers accepting submissions. Usually, Indies are a consortium of individual artists, writers, formatters, editors, again, not from India, normally.
You may or may not pay a nominal fee for membership and/or editing, proofing, artistic covers. Big Indie publishers pay out more royalties. Downside: Their guidelines are strict. They want a good reputation (as do you), so they are sticklers for good writing. You still have to pay royalties and membership fees. Ask to see a proof before it launches. Why do I say big Indie publishing? They have a bigger track record.
Traditional. Traditional publishing used to be the way to go, and it was hard to break into. Pros: Things have changed and they are looking for fresh writers (that they can bilk). Not all traditional publishers are cheap, however. Most give little or no advance (that’s hoping you make three times that or more, but don’t spend it. You may have to buy your unsold books back). But they have a lot of risk putting your book on the shelf. They take a nice chunk of royalties off the back of your sales. Many want you to go through an agent, and that is a terrific idea. It slows the process down, but your book is edited (recognize when I say ‘edited,’ I mean they send you the manuscript and tell you what’s wrong, and it is up to you to fix it). Agents work their behinds off, and if you get a contract, great. Hope that your book sells well (as the agents do) because they get about 15% off the back of your book as well. You may be looking at your take at 15% or less.
Small presses. This includes all venues of the above. Small presses have less revenue (generally) and won’t pay you an advance (most likely not), and won’t do much for your book because they are in the business of churning out books to get their name out. Royalties, well. Their communication maybe great, it may be nil.
This is not the totality of publishing. But it is a nice chunk to think about. Until next time, I bid you adieu. Pfft. ‘I’ll be back.’