Friday, February 1, 2013

Should I Stay Or Should I Go - Things To Consider Before Publishing

What better way to start a Friday than with a nice piece of music from The Clash (Just for you Susan). Anyway, I heard this a couple of days ago and it got me thinking about some issues when it comes to publishing. How long should a writer stay in a "professional relationship" before it is time to call it quits. In this case, I was thinking about some of the things I have heard from people working in the self-publishing market. Let me explain.

A writer makes the move to try self-publishing. At this point, the reason really doesn't matter, so much as the next decision the writer has to make. The numbers for the first book aren't in yet and now the question comes as to whether or not to launch a second or third book into the same venue. This author has heard that numbers always go up for second books, but the question is, will it? As we know, this is a business that we cannot exactly predict the future. What do we do?

First of all, the author has to stop and think about what his or her goals are as a writer as well as his or her current needs and desires. Maybe this is the route the person wanted to take in the first place. Maybe, over the years, the author had become disenchanted with the other approaches in publishing. If this is the case, then certainly continuing with the process would be fine.

The author needs to also consider the cost/benefit analysis angle of the move. How did the work, time and money that was put into the book balance with the outcome of the book financially. For many new authors (and please note I said new here) there is a huge chance of a negative profit here. According to an article in the New York Times, "most self-published books sell fewer than 100 or 150 copies." The article goes on to quote Mark Coker, the founder and chief executive of Smashwords that a huge majority of self-published books "don't sell a lot of copies." So, as an author, is this the investment you want to take.

This works also with publishers and agencies. Before making a hasty decision, you have to consider the cost/benefit analysis of your relationship. If you are getting what you want and your career is going where you want it to, then by all means stay. If you are unsatisfied and you "know" you can do better in another location, then maybe it is time to move on. This is not a hopeful thinking. You have to keep your feet on the ground with this decision.

Like anything else in this business, stop and think before you leap.

1 comment:

  1. All true points. However, for most writers, we write for the love of the process... because we can't NOT write. While large profits would be nice, they aren't the deciding factor in whether or not we write. While it's true that one could decide not to continue to independently publish and pursue a traditional publishing route, the author would still have to weigh the benefits of that decision, because for many authors, there's still zero profit in that route (because they are unable to secure an agent or contract). In that situation, the independent author still has his/her book and a few sales to show for their efforts, rather than just a stack of rejection letters.