Wednesday, September 5, 2018

IWSG: Choosing A Path to Publication

 IWSG Mission Statement:  The Insecure Writer’s Support Group is a website media business with affiliates to enhance our service to visitors. We are a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers. Our goal is to offer assistance and guidance. We want to help writers overcome their insecurities, and by offering encouragement we are creating a community of support. Visit IWSG to learn more about this great writing community!  

IWSG posts the first Wednesday of every month. It's a great writer's resource that I'm sure you'll find well worth your time. Be sure to stop by and visit with other IWSG Members.  

I'd like to thank September's awesome co-hosts:    Toi Thomas, 
T. Powell Coltrin,  M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!  Be sure to stop by and say hello!

September IWSG Question:  What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

Great question!  Traditional Publication vs. Self or Indie Publication or a Combo of Both - It's nice that authors have alternative choices in today's publishing world.  There are pros and cons to all routes, and we'll take a brief look at those later.  I will say I seriously doubt there are many authors who could honestly say they don't aspire to be published by one of the five publishing powerhouses, including me.  As a writer, how can you not drool over the thought of that? But the reality of receiving an acceptance from a big time publisher is about as rare as pulling hen's teeth (at least for most us mere mortals).  There are, of course, many large to mid-size to smaller presses that offer wonderful opportunities for publication for those that choose to pursue that route.  Just do your homework and beware of false advertising.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!  On the other hand, indie publication is a very attractive alternative affording authors much more creative control over their work.  

As for me, I reserve the right to choose Either or Both, and in today's publishing world that's possible.  I certainly wouldn't hesitate to pitch the right project for traditional publication while maintaining my right to self-publish other projects.  The important thing for me is having the power to make an informed choice.  While there's no guarantee of acceptance or success when querying traditional publishers, you'll never know unless you try.  The same thing can be said about self-publication as there's no guarantee of financial success once you self-publish so you might want to hang onto that day job awhile longer.  One thing's for sure - either way you choose, it's a lot of work.

Short List of Publication Pros & Cons:
Traditional Publication:
  • Validation that you're indeed "good enough"! 
  • Work with a professional team
  • No upfront publication fees
  • Eligible for literary acclaim and prizes
  • Space on bookstore shelves
  • Broader distribution

  • Slim chance of getting rich! (haha)
  • Loss of creative control and many rights to your book
  • Slow process to publication
  • Little marketing help (authors expected to have established platform)

Self or Indie Publishing:

  • Total creative control over content and design
  • Higher profit margins
  • Distribution available online reaching broad audience
  • A sense of empowerment and control of destination
  • Faster getting book to market
  • Retain all rights
  • You're on your own from beginning to end.  Beware pitfalls!
  • Start up costs can be high 
  • May need professional help which adds to costs
  • Difficult to get bookstore distribution
  • Most indie authors do not receive any validation from literary critics

As I said, this is an abbreviated list of pros & cons.  There are many books and online articles available with in-depth information to guide you on your path to publication.  One good source of information I recommend is Jane Friedman's free 2018 Key Book Publishing Paths.  Friedman breaks down the different publication options in a handy pdf chart giving the Who, How, What, and Value of each path.  It's available on her website at 2018 Key Book Publishing Paths.

So - which path to publication have you chosen?


T. Powell Coltrin said...

I love your pros and cons list! I like both ways of publication and think it's awesome that "today" we have both choices.


Sandra Hoover said...

I agree, Teresa! So nice to finally have a choice! Thanks for hosting this month.

Raimey Gallant said...

Great pro-con lists. This IWSG discussion is so eye-opening. Happy IWSG day!

Sandra Hoover said...

Thanks, Raimey! You'll find a ton of articles and books listing the pros & cons of both paths to publication. I think it's a personal decision based on the current project in hand. Happy IWSG Day to you! Thanks for stopping by.

Crystal Collier said...

When I start talking to a kid who is interested in being published, this is the first thing I go through with them--the different routes and fits. It's nice that there are options. That also means the market is saturated. We take the good with the bad, eh?

Sandra Hoover said...

Yes, we do, Crystal. The market has never been more saturated than it is now. The good, the bad, the ugly. lol It's definitely a challenge to get your work noticed in the big ocean of books available today. But...I love a good challenge, don't you? lol Have a great month!

PJ Colando said...

My publishing paths chose me: indie, when REJECTION and market collapse (2012 when we lost many publishing houses and folded into five). This tool became a quagmire because of its free-for-all nature.

I now have a small press - because I've worked, worked, worked to improve. I was chosen.

And, that feels good. My blog post: The BE Attitudes... is what gets me through. What about you?

Sandra Hoover said...

Sounds like you've found the right path for you, PJ. I like the options writers have today. Have a great month! Thanks for stopping in.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a simple but good breakdown. It all depends on what a writer wants and what he's willing to do.

Sandra Hoover said...

Yes, it does. I like that you chose a path & went after it with great success, Alex. Congrats!

Toi Thomas said...

Happy IWSG Day!
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.
Good tips.
I too think it's all about making informed choices. It's good to have choices. Thanks for the recommendation.

Chrys Fey said...

Great pros and cons list. It's great that we have the choice today for one or the other...or both! :)

Oh. and I still drool over the thought of being published by one of the Big 5. lol

Sandra Hoover said...

I enjoyed your post today, Toi! Have a good month!

Sandra Hoover said...

I'm with you, Chrys! The idea of being published by one of the Big 5 is definitely drool-worthy! And I love the flexibility & choices in publishing today. Wishing you a great month!

Melissa said...

I'm indie all the way. :)

Sandra Hoover said...

Good to have creative control! Have a great month!

J Q Rose said...

Informative post and helpful for those investigating the different paths. As for me, my mysteries are published by a small publisher and my non-fiction books I published myself. I think it's easier to get more help shouting about the books when you are in a publishing house. The authors help each other to promote, in my case anyway. Something to consider.
JQ Rose