Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Should "Real Authors" Steer Clear of Self-Publishing?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing. I’m not counting traditional publishing out by any means, but I dislike all the brouhaha that is going on which seems to express indignation on the part of the publishers in reference to self-publishers. In short, I thought publishers were coming across as desperate, whiny and immature.
But then I read a blog post by author Jody Hedlund on the subject and she made some valid points. She is definitely pro-traditional publishing, saying, “The truth is, self-publishing marketing is NOT equal to the marketing done by traditional publishers. For all the talk about how ALL authors everywhere have to bear ALL the burden of marketing, it’s just NOT true.” I was initially shocked by that definitive statement and immediately felt rebellious! Lol But I continued to read and I’m glad I did!
One thing in particular struck me, when she said that the publishing house’s contacts had been invaluable, stating, “My publisher, because of their size and reputation, could collectively accomplish SO much more than I could as one individual. They were able to get my book in most major book stores, distributors, and retailer catalogs. They were able to send out ARCs and books to key book buyers, reviewers, influencers, bloggers, etc.”
Now, stubborn me, playing the devil’s advocate, I keep thinking, but isn’t that why I’m building a platform now? Couldn’t I do book give-aways and fish for beta readers? (no pun intended!) Isn’t that why I’m doing all this blogging and writing and tweeting and reading about craft?? So I can hopefully write a book that will encourage word-of-mouth recommendations and I can tweet about it and have people rush to buy it? Lol
Ok, I totally see her point, I know it’s not going to be that easy and I have read about authors who have said it was difficult getting their book into big name bookstores because the managers wouldn’t hear anything past, “I am a first time self-published author---“ They didn’t want self-published; they thought it was vanity publishing and turned them down flat. And the tiny independent bookstores, as helpful as they might be, just don’t produce the same sales numbers as a chain or Amazon potentially could. Even then, you’ve got to promote promote promote….take a breather and then promote some more.
HOWEVER, that almost sounds better to me then what I read on another of Jody’s posts, entitled, “Is the Query System Dying?” Her statistic is astounding, are you ready?
“My agent, Rachelle Gardner,” says Ms. Hedlund, “shared some statistics last week. This was one of them: ‘Queries received in 2010: around 10,000. New clients taken on from query (no referral): 0.’ “
I know. Pick your jaw up off the floor, you’re getting drool on your shirt.
That doesn’t exactly inspire optimism, does it??
Where the heck does a writer go from here? We are obviously inspired by the success of the likes of Amanda Hocking, (whom I’ve mentioned several times!) who was so defeated by the publishing system she self-pubbed both electronically and in print. Word of mouth helped her grassroots effort as did something else: the ability to provide people with the next in a series almost immediately! Ms. Hocking had written 6 books I believe and was able to release them within weeks of each other, satisfying the short attention span of the tweeting, media consuming public. She herself has mentioned that maybe that was helpful! I can see the logic of that.
But Ms. Hedlund suggests that books are getting published because of networking, that all of Ms. Gardner’s new accounts are from referrals from current clients, from within the publishing industry, etc.
So, the moral of the story is: keep tweeting. Keep blogging. Connect with your favorite writers, comment them, tweet them, get to know other up and coming authors and friend those agents! Because, apparently, it’s all in who you know, not in how well you write!