Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Lay Guide to Publishing Avenues

My cousin, a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) sent me a nifty little cheat sheet about the various means of becoming a 'published' author. I use the quotations, because she pointed out to me that many organization do NOT consider you published or professional unless you've received at least a $1,000 advance. Makes sense, because a publisher who has already dolled out money for you will want to make that money back! This leads to more aggressive marketing of your book. I have to note, I have no knowledge of that from dealing with publishers, but a degree in business gives even me some basic insight! :)

So, on to some of the publishing methods:

Traditional: The top of the line method that we all dream about. Huge advances (not so much anymore), your bool in every Barnes & Noble, or as my agent calls them "The big boys and girls in NY."
     -You get to work with top notch team who will handle editing, art/cover design, and marketing
     -A major advance
     -Large print runs to start
     -Availability in stores

     -You need an agent 99.99% of the time.
     -Kill or be killed = publish or fail
     -Sales record counts...sell 1 copy and say goodbye to that next advance or the publisher themselves

Self-Publishing: You publish your own work. Online or in print through an insurmountable number of channels. (Online channels: Smashwords, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, etc.) I'm not going to list channels of self-publishing in print, because they're everywhere.

     -Anything can publish a picture of a monkey eating a banana on 375 pages and call it the True Story of King get the idea.
     -You get to run everything, track sales, decide how to market it, and you can get a royalty rate of between 35-70%.

     -Anything goes...people can print books such as the True Story of King Kong...and if I find someone did publish it, I will sue you, because it is MY great and hilarious idea :)
     -You CAN make a lot money, but you won't. Those who say they have are the exception to the rule, not the rule themselves. Watch...I can't remember the movie right now, so if you made that movie please know I'm giving you credit even though I forgot what movie it is that you made.
     -You HAVE to do all the work, marketing, etc. unless you're rich, in which case you can pay people to do that for you.
     -There's no advance, and bookstore staff will probably give you a funny look when you ask for placement on their shelves...and THEN when you leave, laugh at you with their friends. Sad I know, but that's how the cookie crumbles. That's what I would imagine on my way out after they said no in a polite fashion.

E-Publishing (Electronic Publishing): E-publishers are EVERYWHERE. I can't tell you how many there are. These aren't bad, per se, or at all. It just depends on what you're looking for. These are usually small presses, though they may have as many as 20 authors (I've seen it), but all their books are published online. MANY claim if a book is successful it will go into a limited run or become POD (Print-on-demand). This would be something to ask them about before signing a contract.

     -Much easier to have your work accepted, whether you're agented or not.
     -SOME provide an advance, but to be honest after pouring over pages of them, I've only seen one offer an advance, and that was one that did do print, not just electronically. 
     -You get to work with staff, which I would call so-so quality (A LOT better than me, but nowhere near HarperCollins staff)
     -You'll get more staff attention as it is a small press with a limited amount of authors
     -The press may already have loyal customers who will purchase your book just due to the publisher.

     -Rarely given an advance, and when you are, they're small!
     -You do have to or rather SHOULD do marketing yourself as the press will have limited means to help you. You should use, of course, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, etc. etc.
     -You won't have much contact with many of the "big boys and girls in NY" as my agent says! Always make me laugh and smile :)
     -Your book will likely not reach any form of print.

VANITY: Don't use this. They may make you pay, or only sell your book to you alone. Don't do this. Don't do it! GO check out A FANTASTIC site about scammers and the "big boys and girls". It's run by Dave...something, but it is an INVALUABLE tool. USE IT!

Now for the citing of sources, as I don't want to get sued or be assassinated for misusing/plagiarizing someone. 

Source: November 2011 RWA Magazine, Article, by Virna DePaul

And a special thanks to my cousin, Leslie Carroll for making sure I never fell prey to any scammers!

So, Farewell,  keep on writing, and make sure your pen has ink!

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