Tag Archives: traditional publishing

6 Bullets on How an Author and Book Find a Community

Experiences of a Writer in Print and eBook Publishing

Margaret Kell-Virany, one of the authors you can meet at the Ottawa, Canada, Book Fair this coming weekend (October 26 and 27 at the RA Center, free admission) writes about her path to becoming a self-publisher, both in print and digital. 





BigSpider_National GalleryOttawa.


Writing books is all about community so beware of self publishing.

Having read the above blog, I’m more excited than ever about being at the upcoming OIW Book Fair on Oct. 27 with fellow authors and readers. As for debates over whether to self-publish or with a traditional publisher, or as an e-book, I’d like to add these bullets from my 15 years of trying. As you will see, I come down on both sides of the fence, depending on where I’ve been able to find ‘community’:

  • Good, practical advice came in the otherwise-depressing rejection letters I got from traditional publishing companies. I had a maximum of a thousand dollars to put into my book and this advice was free. Structure, length and target audience were some of the trouble spots. I was angry and wanted to prove them wrong in rejecting me but, at the same time, I had to…

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What Should Writers Do: Begging or Selling?



Dean Wesley Smith

Dean Wesley Smith wrote a great, although somewhat blunt post:

“If you follow an old model, you send your manuscript to either an editor or an agent: Imagine yourself standing at the door of a restaurant in ragged clothes, hat-in-hand, begging for some food. You have no bargaining power, no position to try to get a decent contract (meal). And if you are with a slush-reading agent, imagine that you now only get a part of what little bit of food they are willing to toss you.

If you follow the new, indie-publishing model: Imagine you own your own business. You have money coming in the door, have customers, and a growing list of products. A representative of a major corporation shows up in your store and asks to buy some of your product for their company. You know what the product is worth and you know you can get decent contract terms. They have come to you, into your business, and it is an even bargaining position for both of you, business to business. They want what you are selling. You can decide if the money and terms are worth for you, selling it.”

He writes (in a nutshell):
“I have no idea

  • why any writer would spend so much time writing a book and then not allow that book to earn for them while it was being looked at by traditional publishers.
  • why any writer would send any manuscript into a traditional, old-style slush pile.
  • why anyone would even think of sticking with the old model of begging at a publisher’s door with a manuscript in a  slush pile.

Just as we had to learn how to do cover letters and synopsis of novels that would help our books sell, the writers of today need to learn how to do covers and cover blurbs and tag lines that will help their books sell.”

Read the whole story, in which he explains where the word “Slush pile” comes from and how publishing / author-publishing evolved in the last 70 years. Very interesting read for authors, new and established:

Dean Wesley Smith is also the Author of The New World of Publishing  A Hard Look at the New World of Indie and Traditional Publishing among dozens of others in a variety of genres.





Hyper Smash



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Traditional Published Authors Interested in Self-Publishing




A third of traditionally published authors are interested in self-publishing their next book,
according to a new survey from Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest. The survey, “What Authors Want: A Comprehensive Survey of Authors to Understand Their Priorities in the Self-Publishing Era”, queried nearly 5,000 aspiring, self-published, traditionally published and “hybrid” authors (authors who have both self-published and traditionally published). It was presented at the Digital Book World Conference + Expo.

This trend should be worrisome for traditional publishers, which are struggling to demonstrate to the marketplace that they add value to the publishing process in an era where anyone can publish a book.  Perhaps of even more concern is that two-thirds of hybrid authors are interested in self-publishing their next book. It’s not surprising given the context of the rest of the survey: Time and again, hybrid authors had relatively negative opinions about publishing companies — that they keep too much money, don’t “get” digital and, generally, don’t add much to their publishing process.

At the same time, when offered the opportunity to publish traditionally, nearly three-quarters of hybrid authors are interested and — also good news for publishers — about two-thirds of self-published authors are interested. The prestige of a traditional publisher, the wide distribution a publisher can generate and help with marketing were all reasons cited.

Read the whole article by Jeremy Greenfield: 
What Authors Want: A Third of Published Authors Interested in Self-Publishing Next Book

My thoughts on this excerpt, especially the last sentence: 
Both ways of publishing have their positives and vice versa. However the perception of traditional publishing is often not up to date in public , as the way of book marketing has totally changed. Only celebrity authors get the full PR treatment, other writers have to fend for themselves, and they often do not realize that their books have only a maximum of three months to survive on the bookstores shelves until they will be pulled out and returned to the publisher or discarded
The prestige of a traditional publishers is also dwindling, as some of them, such as Penguin / Random House ally with dubious POD’s, establishing a subsidiary in an attempt to jump onto the self-publishing bandwagon and find a way to fleece unsuspecting writers.
Even the wide distribution a publisher can generate is something, authors can organize these days by themselves: as soon as they have at least three print books (not necessarily their own, they can also partner with other writers) they can establish a publishing firm and work with Lightning Source / Ingram and have their print books distributed worldwide.

E-books can easily be uploaded at Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Apple and a dozen more online retailers. Proof-reading, copy editing, editing, book layout, cover design, translations, printing… just about everything can be outsourced by the author – including book marketing and PR.

Best advice for any author is to familiarize themselves with every aspect of the publishing
process, to consult a professional to get a clear picture of the time/financial involvement and
advice from a contract lawyer before they sign up any publishing contracts including those of
Print on Demand Publishing.





Hyper Smash



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“Old School” Comment on BEA

BEA Review from a Different Angle:

Here are some almost amusing excerpts from an article about the last BEA (my inner comments in brackets)

… to witness the digital revolution turn yesterday’s “gentleman’s business” of publishing into everyman’s global printing press. (Now we have to deal with the plebs)

The lines are blurring between what used to be called “gray publishing” (nowadays e-books and self-publishing) and traditional publishing such as trade, academic, scholarly and professional books.

Software companies, suppliers and distributors held prominent booth space near doors and at the end of aisles.  Many larger publishers either didn’t attend, or had private curtained rooms at the side of the show floor.  I hadn’t seen that hideaway routine at earlier shows. (Are they hiding from their customers, writers or from the digital progress?)

Well, I liked the expression “gentleman’s business” best, it sounds so wonderful old-fashioned arrogant.

 Book Shelf


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What publishers won’t tell you

Your book has four months to fly off the shelves.
If your book doesn’t sell in the first four months of its bookstore life, it will be remaindered and disappears from bookstores und could end up at “A Buck a Book”.  90 to 95% of books don’t pay back their advance. Royalty will only be paid if the advance is paid back. What you get up front as an advance is usually all you will ever get.

If you screw up on your first book, you’re out.
If you do well with it, publishers will be eager to see your next title. But if you don’t sell a lot of books, your publisher might not be returning your emails and phone calls when it comes time to offer your second book.

Sorry, no publicity.
Ten years ago, publishers did some marketing for books. Now they might send out some galleys and wait to see if anyone is interested. Then they focus all their publicity on the books they expext to be a bestseller. If you want your book to be a success, YOU will have to do all the publicity yourself!

Traditional publishing is very slow.
Unless you’ve got a political tell-all, your book is going to “be in the making” for two years or longer until it goes into the bookstores. You need to be sure your topic is timeless und that you will be interested in publicizing it three years from now.

Most likely your book will not be published in foreign countries.
Unless you have a savvy agent (preferably speaking several languages) who is trying to sell your book abroad, there is little chance that your publisher actively tries to find buyers in foreign markets.

On the top

On the top


If you are interested in making money or selling your book for a long time, better consider e-books and self-publishing.

But in any way, marketing skills or at least the willingness to learn about marketing and PR to promote your book, are essential for an author. 

Books don’t sell themselves, as most writers sooner or later find out – often too late.




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Publishing vs Self-Publishing or Authors vs Publishers


In an article on self-publishing, the publisher of Portfolio, Penguin’s business book imprint, as well as Sentinel, wrote:

“The greatest challenge facing a new writer is to find readers, not to finish and print a book. Self-publishing has made the shelves even more crowded, both, virtual and physical. The obstacles to being noticed are even more forbidding, not less. In a world where anyone can upload a Word doc and call it a book, it’s more valuable than ever to have experts curate the works that are really worthy of a reader’s attention.”

(BTW: This above article excerpt had an error that I corrected! So much for curate/editing…)


Read which comments this article received:

 “Curate is an interesting term.  In my 20 years in traditional publishing I experienced very little ‘curating’.  I had books thrown into production with no editing.  I had publicity departments never return a phone call.  I also was a NY Times, WSJ, PW bestselling author, so I wasn’t some schmuck.  Yes, 99.5% of people self-publishing will fail.  But many people in traditional publishing will be looking for jobs soon because they just don’t get the digital revolution.  Agency pricing is a classic example of that. “

Laurel Saville:
Yeah, maybe, but these curators get it wrong all the time. Let’s remember how many famous authors, including Poe, Woolfe and Whitman, who self-published in order to get noticed by those same curators.  The curators told me I had a great book, the writing was “as good as it gets”, but they still wouldn’t pick it up.  If I hadn’t self-published, I never would have been noticed and then picked up by AmazonEncore myself.  Sometimes self-publishing is a means to a different end. In my case and many others, it was totally worth it.

T. More
Self-publishing is the direct line between author and reader, and most of the “gatekeepers” of traditional publishing don’t know good books. I would rather self-publish, sell books and reap most of the profits than give in to the model which has blocked literary classics from being published sooner, and caused other authors to commit suicide only to be published post mortem and hit the NY Times Bestseller list too late.



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