Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Be Cautious Of Those Self-Publishing Myths

Let me first say, self-publishing is a fine approach for many authors. Assuming the right situation, this avenue for publishing can be a great way to breathe some life into books that might have disappeared. Yet, for many new authors, self-publishing can really be a huge disappointment. Please let me also stress that just because this route might be bad for some authors, I am, in no way saying that the other approach has to be with traditional publishing. Like everything else out there in publishing, there are far too many variables out there to make a black and white case for approaches writers should take.

Still, with that said, I do think there are some things out there that many new authors start to believe as "the whole truth" and we have to be cautious of this.

Not necessarily. In fact, if you really start to do some digging out there, and you start paying attention, you will frequently see comments like the one posted in the most recent RWR Magazine by Trish Milburn "...there are probably more self-published authors who are earning small or modest amounts each month than there are making oodles."

In fact, more often than not, the people you see making huge amounts of money are authors using the self-publishing model to continue the life of their backlist. Along the same lines, many of these authors already have a following. They know that you as a reader, when you get ready to buy a book on your e-reader, you are not seeing if the author has a book published with a traditional press or is self-publishing. You went with the name you knew!

Be careful of this one! You might simply be too close to your manuscript - your little baby - to see the truth. Publishers not buying your book is not simply a case of your writing being outside of their strict "niche" market. It might be for a lot of other reasons, and yes, the quality of the work could be just that. As an agent, I have to say that I write more rejections based on the quality of the work than on something that doesn't fit the market. I don't think I fall outside of the norm on this one.

Still, let's talk about books that fall outside of the so-called "niche market." Publishing is an industry of supply and demand. You have a product and you want to sell it. Now, if I remember right from those basic level business classes, before you put all of your money into a venture, you have to make sure that there will be people out there wanting to buy your product. Guess what? The same applies for publishing. The simple truth is that many publishers don't buy the book because it won't sell.

Please note that sometimes, this issue does stem from the audience the publisher sells to not being right. We have to remember that this is not an issue of the publisher being limited. Instead, this one falls back on your shoulders for sending a project to someone that would have never taken it in the first place. For example, sending me a biography is going to get you a rejection letter. Why? I don't acquire those. This isn't because your book was so different that it fell outside of the market.

O.K. I will give you part of this, but there is a twist to this that we often miss. In many ways, when we hear this phrase, there is a fallacy of thought that is being extended here. In other words, if self-publishing gives you 100% control, then other approaches take it away. Umm, not.

One of the biggest things I hear is the issue of "you get to control your cover." Yes, you do, but guess what, you too can have a lot of say with your cover in other forms of publishing. Far too often, however, writers simply don't say anything. The book is published and they spend the next months and years complaining that the cover is awful. I do know that all of the publishers I work with get feedback from their authors on the covers and yes, they can get changes made.

We also have to remember that unless you are personally being the artist for the cover, or the taking the photographs for the cover, you too are bound by the same limitations that the traditional publishers have in terms of gaining the rights to the material to put on your book.

I really don't want to push this to the point that the article becomes a "I'm right and your wrong" argument. I simply want people to get thinking about the things they do before they jump. I brought this up because of the huge emphasis the RWR put on self-publishing in the recent edition. I am always afraid when I start seeing things like this because the arguments often turn into those that attempt to make things black and white. This industry simply doesn't have that.

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