Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Self vs. Traditional Publishing -- It's All A The Roll Of The Dice

My peep, Kristen Callihan tweeted a link to this article by Chuck Wendig today. View the full article, HERE. In it, he discusses the idea that rather than focusing on the sales/money that can and is being made in self-publication, we, as storytellers need to focus more on telling good stories. That's why we're all in this business to begin with, right?

I know the whole traditional vs. self-publishing thing is a hot button right now. There are people on both sides who are completely convinced that choosing one path over the other may equate to writer-cide. (Erm, read: death of your writing career by way of foolhardy decision making.) When one does well in traditional, THAT is the path you should take... when a bestseller comes from the independent side, THAT is the path you should choose.

What Wendig said is correct--it's a crap shoot either way. Some stories will rise to the top, others won't. Ever read a reeeeeeeally crap bestseller? Yeah, me too. Lots of them. There are certainly lesser known books that were much better in my opinion. There is no rhyme or reason to how these things work.

I'll admit, I've hemmed and hawed over what to do with BTPM. I wrote this book...gah. Nearly four years ago... or longer? Yeah, it's probably coming up on five years, actually. (eeeeikes) And it's sat in my drawer most of that time while I worked on other *cough* projects that shall not be named--erm, right now. (grin) I've never queried it--though I did submit one partial to an agent I pitched at a conference. I always assumed I would go traditional with it. It's just what you do, you know? It's only since this past winter that I started thinking of self-publishing.

Yeah, watching other self-published authors do well played into it. Amanda Hocking, anyone? But in the end, it wasn't the possibility of money that cinched the deal. I know it sounds sanctimonious and like complete bullshit when I say the money doesn't factor into things--it DOES, of course... but honestly, for some reason I can't compute self-publishing with making money.

When I look down the road--two weeks from now when my book goes on sale--what I hope is that people will read my book. Lots of people. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that it will catch on--that I'll rise in the ranks and word of mouth will spread about this little known YA author and her debut novel. I hope it does well--I believe it CAN do well. However, no matter how hard I try, I can't look down that road and see a fat paycheck in my future. Nope. It just isn't there for me. Perhaps that will change in time...maybe I will eventually focus on the sales/non-sales and the duckets they're earning me. For now, I'm just totally friggin' jazzed about the idea of people reading MY book. For me to gain an audience that just might want to read another.

Why? Because I LOVE to tell stories. It's who I am. If my book sells well, great. If only ten people read it--and some of those people LOVE it--BETTER.

A friend recently asked me what I would do if BTPM doesn't sell. Would I continue on with the series--write the next book?

My answer was a flat-out HELL YES. My reason is simple. I have to know what happens to my characters and story. Whether or not BTPM sells, it's only part I of a larger arc. I have to continue writing because _I_ don't know how it ends.

Yes, I'm self-publishing because I hope to do well. I hope BTPM sells--I hope it sells A LOT. But in the end, I'm more concerned about putting out a good story. I'm not in this to turn a quick buck. The chances of doing that are pretty low, even in the best of circumstances, so it CAN'T be about that in my mind. The only thing I can control is the quality of the story I put before readers. If it takes me three months--or three years--to finish the second book, I WILL NOT publish before I think it's the best story I can possibly produce. It has to be that way. It's MY name on that cover--those are MY characters and story. I want to do them justice. I won't put them out there when they're not ready--even if it means I may miss out on money-making opportunities.

Do I think it's important to talk about sales/money? Well, yeah. I think it's important to let authors know that self-publication IS a viable choice in today's market. Do I think that's the ONLY thing we should focus on? NO.

We're storytellers. Story must come first. Just because you can put your first draft manuscript up for sale tomorrow doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Just my two cents. :)


J.L. Murphey said...

You go girl! I agree. Something you have to keep in mind with self-publishing...the more titles the better.

If you scroll down the list of self-published authors who do well, they have multiple titles to offer.

While Amanda Hocking may not have been a fabulous writer, she found a niche and wrote/published prolifically...7 titles in one year. This was a major feat worth following.

Deniz Bevan said...

Yes, exactly! I never once think about $ when I think of self-publishing. I just want people to read my stories and care about the characters and hopefully want more. And the writing part gives me great joy :-)

Jennifer Hendren said...


Agreed. I think she did six books all at once, which is fantastic. I can't imagine being that prolific--but I know I have to up my game a bit. If nothing else, I know as a reader, I HATED waiting even six months, a year...sometimes more, to find out what happens next in a series. That's really what motivates me--the thought that people will WANT the next book. (Let's hope they do. :))

The good news is that while reading through a bunch of snips of the sequel, my author mojo came back into full effect--I feel like I'm finally coming back out of the gate and will really tackle NaNoWriMo with a vengeance. YAY. :)

Jennifer Hendren said...


Amen. I know that if readers, read... there should be some money involved...

Nope, nothing. I can't see it. LOL.

To enjoying the process! :)