Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Voices of Fiction - Traditional or Self-Publication - Part Five

Welcome to Voices of Fiction.

We continue our discussion on publication choice, traditional or self-publication.

Please welcome our authors.

Ellen Spain is a retired Federal Investigator, now turned author, editor, and educator. She is active with EPIC, PennWriters, RWA, SCBWI, and the Pittsburgh East Writers. - Website

Joylene Butler is the author of Dead Witness and Broken But Not Dead. - Website, Blog

Joy Brooks is a Southern lady in love with the mystery and adventure associated with medieval warriors and royalty. She fills her spare time with reading, writing, cross-stitching, and playing with her seven cats. She enjoys the quiet life in a quaint, historic Georgia town. - Website, Blog

Bobbi Carducci’s book, Storee Wryter Gets a Dog, earned a GOLD Mom’s Choice Award for excellence and was named A Best Dog Book for Young Readers by Cesar Milan, The Dog Whisperer. She is an award winning short story writer, columnist and professional book reviewer. Bobbi will be the luncheon keynote speaker at the 26th Annual Pennwriters Conference in May 2013. - Blog, Website, Website

Welcome Authors! It's wonderful to have you back.

What is your publishing method choice: Traditional or Self-Publication? Why?

Ellen Spain - I prefer to go through a traditional-type publisher, middle-sized if possible since the large publisher requires going through a literary agent to get to their submission's editor, which just adds an additional layer of adding more time and stress to the pot. The publisher must offer me a fair contract, royalties, quality editors and cover artists, no hidden fees or charges for any service to publish my book, and maybe an advance. It must maintain a good credible web site and offer both eBook and print formats and promotional presence for my book. Those are the reasons why I would only consider the traditional publishing house for my “Secrets in the Fog" series and other genre fiction I write in mystery & romance with a flair of the paranormal.

There is nothing wrong with self-publishing your family's memoirs or that local history book, but for genre fiction, I would only consider the traditional publisher. Why not self-publish everything? Writers should not self-edit. Therefore, add in the expense of paying an editor. Then there is the cost (one's own time should have a dollar figure) for promotion, getting it onto Amazon, negotiating the Amazon contract, marketing your book to other book distributors, setting up your web sites, and more of your time consumed doing what a traditional publisher does for the writer. This is the time you could have used to write more books. In the end, that extra percentage was reduced to basically nothing. Moreover, if the self-published author later wants to go thru the traditional publishing route, book, very little credit is given to them if self-edited. There are a lot of credible small traditional publishers the author can go through, so the traditional publisher just wonders why that author would go the self-publishing route.

Joylene Butler - I've been both, self-published and published with two small publishers. I prefer the onus be on the publisher and not me. It's probably my age, but I found self-publishing to be stressful, time consuming, expensive, and completely out of my comfort zone.  I wouldn't be exaggerating if I said I spent 14 hours a day for 8 months marketing my first book. I started marketing my second book three months before its launch.

They say you have only 3 months shelf life, so I knew I had to make certain that my novel was in the top 10 search engines. That its presence was felt long before it became available. I'm probably like every other author when I say, I just want to write. The business of networking and marketing is overwhelming. If you do sign with a publisher, you still have to network, but having the moral and financial support of a house is very nice thing.

Joy Brooks - Traditional definitely. I think traditional publishing gives you more exposure. It brings in an expert that will edit and fine tune my work. When my books are released, I want them to be the best they can be. It also brings more opportunities with promoting. The more ideas the better.

Bobbi Carducci - I support both traditional and self-publishing with a few warnings for those choosing self-publishing the first time out. Traditional publishers require that the work be free of errors and they have a specific audience they envision buying your work.  They won’t buy it if they don’t believe they can sell it. They have relationships with distributors, library buyers, book sellers, and they can offer some help in marketing your book. You won’t have to pay for any of that. You will be paid for your work, as a professional should be paid. That’s my case for traditional publishers.

Self-publishing can be a great resource for writers but it can also be a huge disappointment for many unsuspecting writers. Marketing and distribution is very hard for self-published writers. Major book stores and libraries are still not accepting  work by self-published authors no matter how well written it is and putting it on Amazon is not going to result in huge numbers of sales if no one knows about it.

The publishing world is changing and some self-published books will sell a lot of copies, but it’s still very iffy. Add in all the books being self-published that are full of errors and bad writing and your book could end up drifting in a polluted sea never to be discovered by the readers you hope to reach.

When it comes to self-publishing it is critical to make your book as perfect as can be. If you have a great story well told you would be wise to invest in a line editor, a concept editor, a cover designer and a publicist. It’s not easy but it can be done.

I have done work with both. I am traditionally published in magazines, newspapers, anthologies. I am published on line and I used a nontraditional publisher for my book for young readers.  I paid a lot of money to have it published. Money I have not made back even after it earned a GOLD Mom’s Choice Award for Excellence and was named A Best Dog Book for Young Readers in Cesar’s Way Magazine, the official publication of The Dog Whisperer and was written positively about in the Washington Post newspaper.

Why did I go that route? I wanted it done in short amount of time and I was willing to pay the editor, book designer, and illustrator and I wanted to see how they process worked. I love the way the book turned out. But, I won’t go that route again.  I’m seeking a traditional publisher for the next book in the series.

Thank you all for joining us today.

Readers and Authors, feel free to ask questions and leave comments concerning this topic in the comment section below. You may also send questions to chergreen@chergreen.com

(Disclaimer - Bios and photos submitted by authors.)

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