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 We are a home for writers in all stages; from unpublished to bestsellers.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?