Friday, August 17, 2012

Choosing a Publisher in today’s Market


Choosing a publisher in today’s writing world isn’t as easy as it looks. With several publishing options available, writers must do their research if they want to find a reputable publisher.
While there are thousands of publishers, the first choice to make is an obvious one. Do you want to go the route of traditional publishing, self-publishing, or small press publishing?
As a ghostwriter, I had the opportunity to deal with all three of the aforementioned prior to publishing much of my work in small press. If I had to choose only one out of the three listed above, it would be difficult, but small press would win out because of the royalty percentage. Still, each publishing avenue has its fair share of positives and negatives.  
In my humble opinion, the big boys give authors far more publicity than what authors typically receive in small press. I didn’t always feel this way but the industry is forever changing. In today’s world, the ‘typical’ small press publisher is too busy to promote his or her authors ongoing. Plus, small press or eBook publishers often have a burdensome limited budget.
Some of you may be shaking your head at the statement above so let me explain. No, I didn’t always feel that authors gained better PR from traditional publishers, but as of late, they seem to gain more exposure than ever before. A new writer starting out with a traditional publisher has a much better chance of being noticed than they will if they choose to publish with some of the larger e-publishers.
Let me tell you why this opinion was formed. Recently, a fellow author sent an inquiry in regards to blogging at www.destinyblaine.blogspot.com. She had several books to her credit and explained she’d like to blog in September.  As an email exchange began, it became apparent that the author took for granted that because we were published by the same publisher, I knew a little something about her books. Immediately I went to the publisher’s website to conduct a little research. Sure enough, she had a few books under her belt. Unfortunately, until she contacted me about blogging, I had no idea who she was or what she wrote. She hadn’t promoted herself.
Traditional publishers will utilize various forms of media to advertise their new releases. Sometimes they come out with all the bells and whistles. E-book publishers don’t always have the funds at their disposal. Many of them also have staff limitations. If a new author doesn’t know how, or won’t, promote their book, they may sell well on release day, but after a couple of weeks the book will fade into the background, forever buried in the novel cemetery.
I want to be clear about my choices. I choose to publish with small press publishers because I am a creature of habit.  Plus, I like how my current publishers roll in terms of submissions, royalties, edits, finished product, etc. In fact, in the last year, I’ve only pursued one or two new publishers and only because I do need to branch out again, but for a specific genre reason.  Still, I have a way of doing things. I sell on proposal and while I’ve gone back and forth with this in the past, I’m not changing my way of doing things for anyone. I can’t. This is what works for me at this time. A sold manuscript is the only thing that motivates this writer to hurry up and write.
Let me explain why small press works for a great number of authors. Small press publishers can bend the rules as they go along. If they have a dedicated writer who has proven they’ll work, they can work out contract terms to benefit all parties concerned.
The money carries a lot of weight, too.  I won’t work for six percent. I don’t care who signs my checks. A lot of authors feel the same way and why wouldn’t they? Take a look at the numbers:
A book sells for $7.99. At six percent the author earns $.48 in traditional publishing, if they’re collecting gross. In small press, that same book at $7.99 earns the author $3.19. Sell 5000 copies in traditional publishing, and you’ve earned $2400. Sell 5000 copies in small press? A staggering $15,950.
With small press, authors make forty percent and above. I have one publisher who hasn’t been competitive with their royalty rate so I’m backing away from them because let’s face it, I can go anywhere and make 40% and above. We all can.
New writers, in my opinion, should start with small press. Yes, we’ve all heard of author Amanda Hocking, the brilliant writer who self-published her way to fame. Trust me when I tell you, her initiative, talent, and drive pushed her to the top of the charts. It wasn’t just luck.
Does this mean I don’t think there will be another Amanda Hocking in the future? Not at all. I think several more will follow. However, most new writers need support, guidance, and tough edits. Small press publishers, particularly the larger publishers, offer new authors what they need more than anything else—a much needed education.
Do I self-publish? You betcha. Why? Well, the money is better than expected if you want me to be perfectly honest. However, I’ve chosen to publish backlist titles and manuscripts I consider misfits, something that doesn’t quite fit within traditional publisher or eBook publisher guidelines.
If I had my career to do over again, I really wouldn’t consider taking another path. I’ve spoken to several small press authors who tell similar tales. In fact, as a writer, I feel pretty great about my choices. I’ve been shown statements from large and small press publishers.  To date, I haven’t viewed one statement from one traditionally published author that would suggest they make more money than I do in small press publishing—not one—and I’ve been in this business a while now.
Then again, I’ve never seen a royalty statement from EL James or J.K. Rowling. And my favorite author, Mr. Grisham, hasn’t shared his numbers either.
It’s tough choosing a reputable publisher. It’s scary choosing that first route to take. My suggestion is one I think most authors would support. Do your homework before signing on the dotted line. Check with other authors published by the publishing house you’ve decided to pursue. Ask around. Google the publisher before you submit your manuscript. Read the reports on watchdog sites. Then determine whether or not the publisher publishes what you like to write.
Sometimes the route you choose may make or break your book sales. On the other hand, if marketing is your cup of tea, where you publish probably won’t matter. If you have the drive to get out there and advertise/promote your book, and your book is a well written story, then the readers will come. If not, just work harder. Eventually they’ll find you. And guess what? A lot of your readers won’t pay attention to who published your book.
In the end, the route you choose is up to you. As a new or seasoned writer, you must decide what is most important. If it’s the money, then take the route of small press or self-publishing. If it’s the dream of seeing your name in lights, then maybe you should follow traditional publishing and see what the big boys are willing to do for you. Still, ask around. You don’t want to be disappointed when your royalty statement arrives.
New writers, if you’re looking for a solid start in publishing, you should consider the big boys in eBooks first. Who are they? Maybe some of our posters will drop by and leave a few suggestions for you.
Until next time,
Destiny
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12 comments:

  1. The biggest checks I've recieved so far have been with Ellora's Cave. They offer a high royalty and you get more exposure than with smaller e-publishers. Just my opinion. :)

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    1. EC has a great selection of books and authors. And obviously, they have an eye for exceptional talent--you! ;)

      Love,
      Destiny

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  2. I am only with one publisher at the present time, Silver Publishing.

    I chose them because after seeing an open call that interested me they were patient with my "newbie" questions and I found the staff there very approachable. Since they had only just opened their doors there was little I could do to research. I went with my gut and have been very pleased to work with them. Sometimes following your instincts pays off.

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    1. I've heard good things about Silver Publishing. They also have beautiful cover art. ;)

      Love,
      Destiny

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  3. I'm so sorry I am a bit late getting here. I have had good publishers and not-so-good publishers. I've mostly learned through experience. I'd love to have a book published by a traditional publisher, just to see what it's like. In the meantime, I am with one publisher, Western Trail Blazer and inprints with Rebecca Vickery Publishing. I like small press publishers especially if they provide print copies to satisfy readers who like print. I did find a great way to research potential publishers through Piers Anthony's website where he lists all digital publishers and any problems they have had. He does frequent updates and keeps a nutral position.
    I'm used to doing most of my own promotion. some of it is fun. I'd feel like a princess if my publisher did promotion or submitted my books to reviewers. LOL
    A very informative and interesting blog, Destiny.

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    1. Lol, Sarah, you're right about feeling like a princess. If my publishers took to task the ongoing promotion for each and every book, I'd bask in the sun. ;) Still, I'm fortunate to have books with the best of the best.

      Rebecca Vickery Publishing is a good choice, by the way. She's always out there promoting her authors. Congratulations on your continued success. ;)

      Love,
      Destiny

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  4. Very interesting, Destiny! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Victoria and thanks so much for stopping by.

      Love,
      Destiny

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  5. What I have learned is that spending money to buy ads is throwing it away...especially if you've never seen a royalties check of that size! And even more so if you can add up years of royalties and still not make that amount! So I stick with blogging and yakking on reader groups. One wag wrote that the best publicity is to keep publishing, because once someone does like one of your books, he/she will want to read everything you've written. I tell myself that when I'm faced with either doing publicity, which I dread, or writing, which I love.

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    1. Hi Fiona,

      I'm a stickler when it comes to my beliefs about promotion. I've promoted my books from here to yonder, as we say here in the hills. However, I've wasted a lot of advertising dollars in the wrong places. I think you have to concentrate on what works for you and ignore what everyone else says. ;)

      Love,
      Destiny

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  6. Thanks so much for the informative article
    I am at that point now, trying to decide which path to take, with my third book.
    My first two were published with small houses, but I really didn't get much publicity , so I was thinking of self pub. After reading your comments I have some thinking to do as I have know idea how to promote , other than blogging. Anyone have any good blog sites?
    Thanks for your insight
    Marianne Petit

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    1. Hi Marianne,

      Focus on visiting genre-specific blogs to start. Don't forget about the Yahoo groups. There are a lot of folks--myself included--who still visit the loops to read excerpts.

      Love,
      Destiny

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