Traditional Publishing vs. Indie Publishing

Book
Indie publishing used to hold a certain stigma, but that’s no longer so. It’s become more widely recognized as a legitimate publishing option, and rightly so, as there’s a lot of work that goes into it. An indie author doesn’t just throw words on the page and hit “publish.” Well, they shouldn’t anyway. Not if they want to truly respect the writing and reading community and want to attract a readership. Readers are smart and savvy. They will catch, in a heartbeat, a work of art that’s not art at all.

Writers who travel along either publishing road start out the same way—words on the page. After the initial draft, each must edit to make it the best they possibly can. It’s that simple and that hard. From there the road forks and each individual writer must decide which scenic drive they want to take.

Country Road
Below are some of the pros and cons of each. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, so a little homework might be needed in order to make a fully informed decision.

Traditional Publishing Pros:

  • You won’t have to pay for editing or cover art. That being said, it’s still a splendid idea to pay someone to edit your piece before submitting it to an agent. At least if you want a positive response.
  • Validation—some writer’s may need (or simply want) someone to recognize their work and desire to represent them. Writers, in general, are an insecure group. We’re always looking at others’ successes and wonder if we will ever get there. “There” is something you will want to spend some time thinking about. Where is your “there” that you would like to eventually like to be? Search those authors who are at your “there” and find out how they got “there.”
  • Some help marketing. I say some because these days even traditionally published authors are held responsible for their own marketing.

Traditional Publishing Cons:

  • Much lower royalties—some authors get an advance and their royalties work against that advance. Once they’ve earned royalties that add up to the amount they received in said advance, they begin to earn additional royalties. If they reach that point. Many do not. It’s not uncommon for small presses not to pay their authors an advance.
  • No Control—authors have little to no control over their cover art or even the manuscript itself.
  • No rights—traditionally published authors sign away the rights to their work. It no longer belongs to the author, but to the publishing house.
  • Lengthy process—Once it’s been acquired by a publisher, it could take several months, sometimes even years, to finally see your book on the shelves.

Indie Publishing Pros

  • High royalties—by publishing your eBook on Amazon, you will net 70% royalties if your book is priced from $2.99 and up.
  • You maintain all rights. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want, with your books. You can price them to your liking, give them away in contests if you wish, and anything else that strikes your fancy.
  • Total control—your content and cover art are completely yours. You call the shots. It’s a great deal for those of us Type A’s who need control.
    Once you hit publish, (after you’ve gone through the necessary editing, that is) it only takes hours to a few days for your book to be out there for the world to read.

Indie Publishing Cons

  • Many contests will not accept indie submissions.
  • Solo marketing—Marketing is yours. It’s a learning curve, as is the indie process in general. And once you think you’ve mastered it, there is something new that comes out. The bonus, however, is there are numerous sites out there to help you. My absolute favorite is thecreativepenn.com.
  • You foot the cost for editing and cover art – Neither of these are things you want to skimp on. That being said, as I mentioned earlier, even if you aim for traditional publishing, you would do yourself a huge favor by paying for someone to edit your work before you submit to an agent.

If you’re on the fence about which road is right for you, take the time and make a list of the pros and cons. Not a mental list, but an actual written list. It helps to physically see it in front of you. Find as many pros and cons of each as you can. Then make a list of the top five of which are most appealing to you, those that define what success means to you. Still can’t decide? You don’t have to choose just one. There are many authors who have chosen the hybrid model, which is both traditional and indie.

I, personally, love the indie route. I love the team I work with, having control of my product, and maintaining my rights. Would I like the validation of being accepted by an agent and a publishing house? Of course. But that’s not at the top of my list. And at times when I do yearn for that validation, I remember a line from the movie Cool Runnings:

“Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.” -Irv (Cool Runnings)

 

RMFW Conference

This past weekend I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s (RMFW) Conference in Westminster, Colorado. This was my first–but definitely not my last–with this group. I was impressed and blessed from the moment I arrived to the moment I left. The sessions offered were exactly what every writer needs to know in order to grow, not to mention entertaining, the presenters were knowledgeable and relatable, and the camaraderie amazing. I’ve yet to meet a group of people who are more invested in helping one another grow, who so selflessly share their experiences to any and all things writing, and who are successful, whether published or not,  in what we all love to do. Write. I left a rich woman. Rich with knowledge, new friendships, and opportunities.

The scenery from the hotel was an added bonus.

Westin 2015

Westin 2015-2

The only negative? Trying to decide which sessions to attend when there were so many I wanted to be at. As far as I’m aware, cloning isn’t available yet. 🙂

The sessions I did decide on were:

Homicide for Writers, Not Criminals, by Tracy Brisendine; The Joys, Pitfalls & Techniques of Revision, by Carol Berg; The Juggling Act: Writing for More Than One Publisher, Even Especially if One of Those Publishers is Yourself, by Cindi Myers; Birds of a Feather: Mystery, by Linda Berry; Resistance: What’s Keeping You From Writing, by Mario Acevedo & Aaron Michael Ritchey; All About BookBub, by Cindi Myers; Readers, Reviewers, and Trolls: Rules for Author Engagement in the Age of Social Media, by Colleen Oakes; Elements of the Modern Crime Novel, by Christine Goff; The Business of Writing Fiction Today, by Jeffery Deaver. (Yes, the Jeffery Deaver. For someone as popular as he is, he was kind and approachable.) And when author Desiree Holt spoke, I think she inspired everyone in the room. And there were a lot of people to inspire!

Also, I attended my first ever author reading. Why I waited so long is the million dollar question. If you ever have an opportunity to listen, grab it. You’ll be in for a huge treat! I also pitched to an editor for the first time ever, and I couldn’t have asked for a better person to pitch to for my first time. At a time when anxiety is through the roof, she made the experience not only comfortable, but enjoyable. AND…she’s asked me to submit my full manuscript. 🙂

And now, after a weekend that fed and filled me as an author, I’m looking forward to taking the time to chew on, digest, and process all I was given, and to use the energy produced by the writer nutrients on both of my WIP’s.

Readers are paramount. I live to write books for them. -Jeffery Deaver

Writing Communities

Pen

For a writer, deciding to belong to a community of other writers will be one of the best choices you make. Writers understand other writers and the struggles we all go through like no one else can. It’s similar, I suppose, to any group of people with like interests.

Cops can understand each other’s black humor and often use it as a healing method, when the rest of society might think they’re crazy and a sandwich short of a picnic.

Alcoholics draw strength and support from one another that they can’t get from anyone else, hence the huge success of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Christians find peace, joy, and acceptance from brothers and sisters in Christ among other Christians, as they come to know there is strength in numbers.

Victims of crime find comfort in the presence of those who have gone through a like experience. Other human beings who understand the pain, the shame, the healing, and the rising from the ashes.

And on and on. You get the picture.

Paulo Coelho

For writers, the benefits of belonging to a community are endless. There are groups on Goodreads for just about everything writers experience; there are online critique groups as well as in-person critique groups; there are local writers groups as well as online writers groups, some with local chapters; there’s the blogging community to connect with those who have similar interests as you or to broaden your knowledge base; and let’s not forget the magazine community (think Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers, and The Writer.) And these are just a few of the groups out there.

It’s in these groups that you will get ideas on how to manuever through the publishing process, whether you’re aiming for traditional publishing or going the indie route; it’s in these groups that you will get ideas for and help with:

Marketing and Promotion – One of the most difficult aspect of being an author is how to market and promote your book after it’s published. It’s here an author learns that writing the piece was actually the easy part. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. Building from one another’s successes and learning from each other’s failures make the load a whole lot lighter to bear.

Formatting and Editing – For indie authors, formatting a manuscript for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or the old-fashioned paper format, can be a daunting task. Especially for those technologically challenged. Like yours truly. The knowledge from others in the group that are technologically savvy is priceless. And giving back in an area that is your strength is beyond satisfying.

Support and Encouragement – When a writer gets a bad review, isn’t selling any books, is having a serious case of self-doubt or writer’s block, who better to get support from than the very people who have gone through the same exact thing. Over. And over. And over.

Reviews and the Chance to Review – The truth of the matter is, as much as we would like them to, our books don’t sell themselves. Many readers depend on the sum of a book’s reviews to determine if they want to read it. Swapping reviews gives you a chance to get your book reviewed by someone who’s well-read and offers the chance to review another’s, which in turn only strengthens your own writing.

Critiques – What a better way to perfect your writing than by having other writer’s critique your work and having the opportunity to critique theirs. It’s a win-win.

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I have my blogging community where I share, learn, connect and make friends. I belong to local writer’s groups, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Northern Colorado Writers, where I learn by listening to other writers, taking classes and attending writer’s conferences. I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, of which we’re starting a local chapter, and Guppies, an online chapter of Sisters in Crime. I belong to several groups on Goodreads, and participate in NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, both of which take writing communities to a whole new level. 🙂 It’s in these communities I find myself improving and growing as an author. And it’s in these places that takes the joy of writing and turns it into a thrilling adventure.

What groups/communities do you belong to? How has it benefitted your growth?

Finding the Lesson in the Mistake

mistakes

As I posted last week, my book Shear Madness was released. Yes, great news, but now for the not so great.

When I was reading my Kindle version after it went live, I learned an extremely important lesson: ALWAYS read the manuscript, after the editor is done, and not just the parts that were edited, but the entire thing.  Very carefully. After all of my read-throughs, other people that have read it, and the editor, there were still errors I found after taking a month away from the manuscript and reading with fresh eyes. Unfortunately after it went live.  An editor cannot be expected to catch every error. That responsibility falls on none other than the author. So sales were temporarily suspended until said errors were corrected and now it’s back in the world of readers again.

I say this so other beginning authors can learn from my mistake, and to say that as disappointing as it was, at least I learned the lesson, so it wasn’t for naught. 🙂  I’ve noticed mistakes in the books of authors such as James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell, but the difference is, when you’re that famous you can afford to make those mistakes. For someone just breaking into the field, mistakes can be fatal to one’s writing career.

That being said, I have a new deep respect for the editing process and am convinced my next book will be all the better for it.

Amen! 🙂

“Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” –L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea  

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” –L.M. Montgomery

 

Home From Camp

Camp-Winner-2015-Web-Banner

Whew! Just made it! And I’m going back for more in July. Anyone care to join me? The more in our virtual cabin the more support we have for one another and the more fun it is. 🙂

Until then, I’ll be working on finishing up the editing and revisions of my WIP and begin the editing and revisions on my second WIP, while relaxing at an imaginative beach–and my imagination can be quite vivid–with a good book and revel in the fact that despite cutting it close, I persevered, didn’t give up, and finished what I set out to do.

Have a beautiful weekend.

beach chair

“E” is for…

Edit.

“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
Shannon Hale

That four letter word that I actually enjoy.  It’s the editing phase that teaches me the most about being a better writer and a better person.  It’s the refining process that turns tarnished metal into gold.

When my stepdaughter was an elementary teacher, she took a writing class for needed earned credits.  In that class the instructor told the participants never to use red ink when correcting papers because it was too harsh.  They were told to use any color but red.

That got me thinking how far back it is ingrained in kids to fear the correction–or editing–process, and how it frequently carries into adulthood.

Leanne-Sype-Pen-to-Paper-Communications-5-Reasons-Why-You-Need-an-Editor-[1]

I read about a process called story editing in which small changes in one’s own life stories and memories help with emotional health.  My bet is it doesn’t use a red pen.  It includes making small changes in how one interprets life events, and essentially taking control over that which once controlled you.

Today I will wear red, as a color of power rather than dread and fear, and I will rewrite–and edit–the color for what it is.  Vibrant and beautiful! 🙂

Peace.