Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Self-Published to Traditional? Show us the numbers!

We are often asked by writers if being self-published with help or hurt your career if you want to move into traditional publishing. This is always a tricky question because it really does depend on what you put out there the first time. If you put out garbage, then obviously this will hurt your career. But let's ignore that group and focus in on the good writers.

If you started off with self-publishing, you can approach pitching to and editor or an agent with many of the same approaches as someone just moving from one publishing company to another. You also have an additional item that can potentially help out with convincing the editor or agent that you are someone that needs to be taken seriously. You have numbers.

There are a lot of agents and editors now that are seriously looking at authors that have been working in the self-publishing arena. Many of you have also heard of a number of authors out there that were picked up by traditional publishers based on the work that they did on their own. But here is the key! What these people had were significant numbers to demonstrate their success! These publishers and agents were impressed by what you were able to do on your own. Now they are thinking of the success you could have with the backing of a full editorial team as well as the marketing and distribution teams of the publisher.

If you are someone taking this approach, it is crucial that you show the success you had in this other market as you query the editors and agents. Show them the dollar figures of your sales. Show them the units you sold. Give the agents and editors something tangible to work with. Don't make them go after the numbers on their own because they probably won't. Their time is being spent with their current clients.

Every now and then, when I have an author who tells me they have been previously published, and they go on and on raving about how successful they were, I will snoop around and really see what they have done. Are their sales really as great as they proclaimed? When did they publish those books and with what company? I do have to admit, when I start this digging around for information, I am often turned off immediately simply because the author probably wasn't as big as the query letter proclaimed.

But if you are, then show those numbers. Make us take you seriously.

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