Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Self-Publishing, Traditional Publishing, Small Press Publishing, Oh My!!

So there seems to be many, many options for publishing these days. You can take your novel and publish it in several places online (and in print). Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Wattpad.

The possibilities are enough to make your head spin. And it seems that some of the authors who have done this, have done and are doing very well. There are several very alluring things about the self-publishing prospect. More control over covers. Ultimate control over the price point (my biggest complaint in ebook traditional publishing). Multiple releases within a year. Yes, there are many aspects of self-publishing that call to me in the silence of night, but there are several things that also terrify me into paralysis.

Enter the small press. I've seen several of these cropping up over the past year or so, and many more authors going this route to achieve publication. Again, there is much to be admired. A small team of people helping to edit the book, design the cover, aid in marketing and distribution, though they usually don't have the budget of the bigger, traditional houses. I've heard authors talk of their small presses as "family." I will say that the model of a small press also appeals to me.

Then we hit the traditional publishers, which also range in size from smaller (Flux and Sourcebooks Fire, for example) to larger (Scholastic and Random House). They have multiple imprints, and armies of editors, publicists, marketing managers, sales teams, vice-presidents, and library-education personnel. They have a wider distribution, the power to market your book to the masses, and teams of people to ensure the quality of your work from line level to cover copy to design. But you get virtually no say in the cover design or the price point of your novel, and sometimes you get ignored completely in the marketing arena. You know, little fish in a big pond type of thing.

My point is this: Every option for publishing has it's pros and cons. Every author has his or her reasons for choosing the path they're on. We do not need to stand on our chosen path and point fingers, or gossip, or chuckle (or glare or throw Coke cans) at authors on another path. Each person has a backstory, just like each character we write.

You don't know what an author has done, how many books they've written, how many rejections they've endured, how many edits they've completed. You don't know what, exactly, drove them to their path. And I'm going to be bold and say I don't care.

I don't care if you're self-published, or small press published, or traditionally published. I don't care if you have an agent or not. I just don't care. If you write and produce a book that looks and sounds like something I'll like, I'll probably buy it.

And if you write and produce a book that I read and like, I'll talk about it. Self-published, small press published, or traditionally published. I just don't care.

The bottom line is this: Books should be written and produced as professionally as possible, whether you're doing it yourself, with a small team, or within a large conglomerate.

And we should all be supporting one another no matter which path we're on, because I daresay we're all on the same path. The one that has a book readers can buy, read, and leave a review for at the end of it.


Feel free to disagree, but try to be nice about it, okay? Okay. And...go!

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46 comments:

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

Hi Elana. Great post. You've said it: it doesn't matter which route an author takes, make sure the book is of professional quality.

Denise

Natalie Aguirre said...

I so agree with you Elana. There are so many different options out there and they're all great for different people. That's what's great about them. And we shouldn't look down on anyone for whatever choice they decide to make or try to justify our own decision as the "best." We should just be grateful for all the choices out there right now. It will really help people share good books and actualize their dreams.

Heather Sunseri said...

This is fantastic, Elana!!! I love that so many options are out there for writers today. I agree with you... if the book is something I'd buy, I don't care how it was published. However, in order to get me past the first chapter, it better capture my attention with great story told well.

Juliana Haygert said...

"Every option for publishing has it's pros and cons." << EXACTLY!
I just signed with a small press, but it doesn't mean I'm done. I want to try all ways of publishing and find out which one is the best for me ... and I respects others decisions too. Like you I just want good books ;)

Stina Lindenblatt said...

So true. My only problem is there are so many books to chose from (and all sound so good), I'm having a hard time picking books. In the end, I buy the traditionally published books (and usually not from small presses unless I am familiar with the press). And I'm getting fussier too. Now I know how agents feel. Concept really does matter.

Kelly Hashway said...

I agree. Different things work for different people. I'm really happy with my two publishers for my novels. They are both great to work with.

Liesel K Hill said...

Thanks for doing a run-down of the different kinds of publishing. It's a good list of info to have all in one place. I completely agree with what you say about supporting each other no matter what. After all, if we don't support one another as writers, how can we expect others to? Finally started reading Possession last night, BTW. Loving it! :D

Wendy Paine Miller said...

Triple Amen to this. A book is a book is a book. When done professionally, I want to read it no more how it was born.

~ Wendy

LM Preston said...

These options have always been there but over the last year many of them have improved greatly - making them easier and more viable for authors to explore.

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

Very well-said! As you know, I'm both self-published and small-press-published. I like small-press better because it suits me better, and I'm kind of happy that my self-published book was picked up by them too. It's different for everyone, as you said.

Julie Dao said...

*applauds* Love this post. Humans are funny, aren't they? They can't be happy unless other people are doing the same thing they are... different paths?! In publishing?!?! *head explodes* A book is a book is a book. If I like the sound of it, I'll read it.

Jaime Morrow said...

I wish you could hear me applauding you and cheering right now. Thank you for this post. I've been thinking a lot lately about roads to publication, and I've also been reading different 'sides' of the debate. I agree with you→ I don't care. I've read some FANTASTIC self-published works, and I've even been considering that route as an option. I've also read equally fantastic traditional and small press published books. Why can't everyone just agree that good books are good books, and it doesn't matter how they ended up in your hands? :)

Christine Fonseca said...

Love this! Most readers I meet and talk to don't care how the book came to be published...they care that the story resonates with them. Period. WOOT!

T C Mckee said...

I so needed to read this post today. I'm still on the fence about what I want to do. Either choice is brave and we should support each other always. Today, I could use some support. I'm sleepy. I was up really late, reading this awesome book that's been in my TBR pile. So, I started it last night and the next thing I knew it was like 4am. Now, who wrote that....Hum....Oh yeah, it was YOU! I'm sleepy but no regrets. It was awesome. Really. You shouldn't feel obligated to help out with the laundry today just because you kept me up half the night. Or Jag kept me up last night. Hellooo honey. Okay. I'm going to stop now. :)

Tasha Seegmiller said...

You are brilliant and have a heart of gold. Two of my favorite reads over the last year are self-published and several are big box. The good writers will get noticed because they are quality writers.

ilima said...

Fantastic post. A good book is a good book no matter how it got to me. BUT, if it is self-pubbed, I tend to do a little more research on comments/recommendations before purchasing because it hasn't gone through the filters of agents, editors, etc.

Peggy Eddleman said...

Oh my goodness. YES to this! You said it perfectly.

Elle Strauss said...

Here, here! Finally, a voice of reason! =)

Megg Jensen said...

I LOVE YOU!!!!

That is all.

lol

E. Arroyo said...

Well said. =)

DL Hammons said...

AMEN Sister!! :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Well said, Elana. I agree completely! One of the advantages of having so many people going the self-pubbed route is that those who don't take the proper time to make it right will lose out to those who do. And the competition should (I hope) help up the game.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I agree with you so much. I remember a blog post by indie author darling Amnanda Hocking. SDhe had to defend herself for choosing to let her indie hit Switched go traditional. I found the fact that she had to ridiculous. Readers and writers need to remember that they don't own another author's work, characters or publishing choices. I plan to do two novellas and one stand alone novel indie this year. I also have at least two novels in the works to start shopping around angents for in 2013. Everyone has a right to make their own decision when publishing and I'm so glad you wrote a post about this.

My reaction to your blog post is profound yet again. I don't even know why you keep that boring option there. You haven't bored me ye. Of course, I'm not everyone. But I think your posts rock.

Miranda Hardy said...

Very well said! I couldn't agree with you more. Although, I haven't decided on my path, I'm not opposed to any direction. I know my book will be well written before I decide how to distribute it.

Emily said...

THANK YOU! This discussion has been floating around the interwebz of late and you have handled it with such simple grace, I'm amazed.

I have said, so many times of traditionally pubbed authors who rant about self-pubbed authors, "Why? Why do you care?"

Happy to see that some of them...don't.

Thanks Elana.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

"Books should be written and produced as professionally as possible, whether you're doing it yourself, with a small team, or within a large conglomerate."

I SO agree with this! And furthermore, the author should behave professionally, no matter what.

I used to belong to a team of readers on a blog that reviewed self-published books. Eventually, I had to leave. Too many of the books were published before they were ready (I mean, not even edited) and too many of the authors expected a glowing 5-star review -- and wrote you nasty emails if the review included anything negative at all.

You can encounter a person like that on any branch of the publication business, of course -- it's just that authors going it alone may not know any better. If you're self-publishing for the first time, you should look toward others who have done it as a model.

Cherie Reich said...

I completely agree. Some of my favorite books read last year came from all types of published works: self-published to small press to traditional. If an author writes a book I'm interested in reading, then I don't care how that person is published either.

Krystalyn Drown said...

Well said, Elana. I'm embarking on the small press route myself because I wanted the experience of working with an editor, but that doesn't mean I can't or won't jump to a different path in the future.

Morgan S. Taylor said...

I was not aware (perhaps I live under a rock) that people frowned down upon small press or self-publishing. Just getting something published is a milestone and I think it is all fantastic.

And besides...who looks at the publisher before deciding to whether or not to read a book?
Another enjoyable post Elana! Well said.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If it's a great book, who cares?

Kelly Polark said...

I love you, Elana Johnson!

Thanks for saying exactly what I was thinking. And saying it loudly for all to hear!
A good book is a good book no matter how it is published.

Laura said...

I am always game for a good read. Period. And I've been finding them across the board. My goal is to be taken completely by a story. That's it. And my goal as a writer is to write that kind of story. Path path path.... I am very adamant about what path I want. Like a stubborn two-year-old. But that's just what I want for me, never what I think everyone else should want too.
Thanks for the post.

Cathy Keaton said...

Thanks so much for stating your opinion on this issue! I plan to self-publish, but it's not like I don't ever read books published by small or large houses. I like a good book no matter how the author got it published. What difference does it make so long as the book is well written?

Thanks for being open-minded about it. We are all on the same path, whether anyone wants to believe that or not.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Thank you so much for this post. You're awesome. :)

Susanne Drazic said...

Hi Elana! Well said!

Angela Brown said...

That really loud raucous you hear...yeah, that's me hooting, hollering and clapping my hands until they tingle.

I love a story. A great story. Who published it makes me no never mind. Just get it out so I can get it to me :-)

Jemi Fraser said...

Totally agree! The sniping and finger pointing drives me batty. Thankfully I think most writers are more than willing to cheer each other on! :)

Lauren said...

Good for you! I totally agree, the argument about "how" something got published is assinine.

There are a lot of people screaming at each other across the grand canyon, throwing things, basically being idiots.

No one can hear them, and no way they can throw hard enough to hit the "enemy!"

Leigh Covington said...

Can't disagree. I'm with you 100% :D Love your attitude!

Nichole Giles said...

I <3 you for being who you are. Also for being my friend. *big hugs*

J.R. Johansson said...

Yes, THIS. So, so much this. I agree one hundred percent. Thanks for posting this, Elana! :)

~Jan said...

Agree. I just wish the publication process wasn't so flippin' hard, and intimidating, and discouraging. That whatever route ones takes, it would happen magically. And that readers would flock. *sigh*

Melissa Sarno said...

I'm a little late to this post but hear, hear! Perfect post. :)

Martha Ramirez said...

AMEN!!

I feel some authors make it as if there are two teams: Indie Team and Traditional Team.

My dream-my goal- is to be both. Yet I sometimes feel judged by both teams.

I'm so glad you posted this. We all have the same purpose. To gain readership and to share one heckuva a story.

As long as it is written at its best and as long as the writer takes professional measures as to getting the book shaped to its very best, we are all on the same team, no doubt.

AWESOME post!!
Can't we all just get along :-}

John Waverly said...

I agree. Great post.

One of the hardest parts of publishing now is figuring out what the pros and cons are this week. Everthing is changing so fast.

Rebecca Taylor said...

Great post! I love this.

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