THE END! Now what?
We had a great discussion at WordsmithSix meeting about the next step, after you’ve edited and polished your manuscript. You are ready to publish: now what? Several of our members have finished, or are in the home stretch with their manuscripts, and have a very big decision: a) shop their book with agents and editors and pursue a traditional publishing deal, or b) become an Indie Author. We try to keep it real here at Wordsmith Six, so here’s your reality check:
Today’s publishing environment is exhilarating and exhausting. It basically boils down to the following issues, assuming you have a polished and edited book ready for publication.
A. Traditional Publishing
1. Author receives 10% royalty from sales (+/- depending on deal).
2. Author pays 15% from their share to a literary agent, who negotiates the deal.
3. Publication date: years (some smaller presses move faster)
$. Advance: possible, but not guaranteed
6. Sign on the dotted line and give up ALL rights to your novel, characters, cover design, content. You are out of the process, which is a huge relief and appealing to some authors. Go write the next book.
7. Big name publisher assists with promotion (minimal for first-time authors, but invaluable if you are at best seller status). Authors maintain website and social media.
8. Publication Date: Years from now.
9. Validation from a traditional publishing house and the writing community (this is exciting because we all have big dreams).
B. Indie Author
1. Author receives 70% cut of sales (+/- depending on venue)
2. Author learns how, or pays out-of-pocket for professional editor, formatting, cover design, promotion. Most indie authors agree, the work is 50% writing and 50% business owner. You maintain complete control.
3. Go wide as in world wide eBooks and/or Print. You identify the target markets and you design promotion that best connects with your readers.
3.Publication Date: within weeks from this very minute. You decide launch date.
4. Validation from family and local community. Your cousin doesn’t care if the publisher is Me Writer, LLC or Random House, they just want to buy a copy of your book. The local book club is excited to hear your talk.
Have I left anything off of the list that might be significant to newbie authors based on your experience?
This past Saturday, I went to the Texas High Plains Writers workshop by Indie Author Bethany Claire[bethanyclaire.com who has propelled herself and her Scottish time-travel series to best-selling status. She has become successful on her own terms, to the point that she was able to hire her mother as her assistant. They are developing an online class to help other indie authors who are serious about elevating their writing to the next level and who want to build a successful business.
After Saturday’s workshop, I feel better about a recent decision regarding my own work. At the end of last year, I turned down an offer from a small press. For the standard 10% royalty and no advance, I would have signed away an entire page and one-half listing of rights for my inspirational book. Sure, this deal might have propelled it in the market place, but I had to submit a marketing plan as well. Why do publishers want rights they never intend to exploit? That’s not to say traditional publishing deals are something I’d never consider. It depends on the book. For this one, I said no thanks.
Remove your author big-dreams cap for a moment and look at things through clear, sensible eyes. This is business. YOUR business. What process will be optimal for the book in hand, and for your continued success? You have three choices: traditionally published; an Indie AuthorPrenuer all the way; or a ‘hybrid’, which is an author who has published books through both options. It’s all good.
Keep writing, be excellent, and more importantly, get your work out there so I can read it!
Good morning, Nat. I love your blog and find it very interesting. I’ve never regretted for one second publishing traditionally. I get so much more than if I e-pubbed. The editing alone is invaluable. The lack of editing is one chief complaint I hear about from readers concerning e-books. Authors don’t want to take the time or money to get it edited. Each of my books go through 4 edits by 4 different people and I’m very glad about it because I want a quality book. At Sourcebooks, they let the author set the pace. You can write and publish as fast as you want. Plus they market really well and I love that. I would hate to have to try to find ways to get my book in front of readers plus write. And pay for editors. And pay for book covers. That would simply overwhelm me.
Thanks, Linda Broday, for sharing your thoughts and insights about the publishing process. Thanks for mentioning how important the editing process is. Indie Authors absolutely need professional editing, and for us, it is an out-of-pocket expense and another ‘cost of doing business’. I think you made the perfect choice for your author career. Sourcebooks has done an outstanding job on your covers, by the way.