Monday, March 23, 2015

Self-Pub or Traditional? Revisiting the Debate

I've stumbled across the blog post from Joe Konrath below and found it interesting, informative, and at times, hilarious. Please give a read to the link below… you won't regret it!

My take is that no matter which road you choose, there are two inevitable truths: 1) You have to sell a shitload of books to make money in the writing business, and 2) Nobody else is going to sell the books for you. Whether you're self-pubbed or "legacy" published, you have to a) write a book people want to read, AND b) either luck out with a book that just metastasizes on its own or else find the readers who want to read it. And that's all on you.

Joe, you may add me to your list of self-pubbed authors who have turned down deals. I have personally turned down two. I didn't turn them down to be a rebel, nor to thrust a middle finger at the publishing industry. Simply put, I literally just didn't see any up side to taking the deals. Am I a best-seller? Nope, at least not in the "rich and famous" sense (although The Vesuvius Isotope did hit #17 on Amazon's Top 100 Historical Thrillers and was a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards.) Do I regret turning down those deals? NOPE. My debut novel didn't make me any real money, but it sold well enough and garnered good enough reviews OUTSIDE of my friends and family that I've convinced myself I can crawl out of the mass grave of new authors and eventually make some semblance of a career out of this. I just have to keep writing.

And so, while I head off to do so, please read this blog post, and we'd love to hear your take on the issue.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing: A Case of the Shatz - Fisking Mike Shatzkin: Mike Shatzkin, sounding more and more like an apologist and less like the forward-thinker he's been in years past, took a stab at poking...


  1. I've read enough Konrath to have figured out that he sees no author downsides to indie publishing at all (or if he does, I've missed it). Maybe that's why he reacts so strongly to Shatzkin pointing out some of those downsides, or suggesting that indie may not be profitable or desirable for all authors. One of the reasons I stopped reading Konrath is his hysterical denunciation of anyone who disagrees with him. He should be a talking head on Fox News.

    If a Big 5 publisher decided for some unfathomable reason to offer to publish one of my novels (take South, please! Call me!), I'd take it. I'm already making essentially nothing on it, so the loss of potential (though actually nonexistent) royalties isn't an issue. I'd love to gain access to the other trad-pub machinery: the legitimate review outlets, bricks-and-mortar distribution, library sales, an agent who can sell subsidiary rights for me. I'm sick of begging people to review my books so I can have the privilege of buying ads for them. The marketing tricks that used to work in 2010 don't seem to anymore, and nobody seems to know what does...not to mention that there's a reason I didn't major in marketing in college. Yes, I know that unless my name is Patterson, a Big 5 publisher won't publicize my work either. But just by dint of its size and distribution heft, it'll still sell many times the number of copies I've managed to move. Maybe trying to sell my own books wouldn't be such a fool's errand with that kind of boost for one (or three) of them.

    I'm glad you're doing well with Vesuvius! Best wishes on the next one.

  2. Lance, all good points… I haven't followed Konrath so I'll take your word for the Fox News analogy, but it was funny in any case hehe. I have talked to some Big Six folks that said they'd have been better off self-publishing. And I've talked to even more self-publishers who would love a Big Six deal. *shrug*. I'll say it again: I think you still have to sell a ton of books or it doesn't matter which route you went.

  3. Lance (and, everyone… ) For the last few weeks, I've been using my daily commute to listen to podcasts via The Author Biz. I can honestly say I've learned several *concrete* things that have clearly directly helped my sales. Vesuvius was starting to languish and it's now picking up a bit. Give the podcast a listen for specific marketing ideas that can help you out...