Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday's Finale-The Wannabe & Standard Publishing

We all have a copy of this book, don't we?
I've been working with several authors who are working on their first novel. The inevitable question came up when we were discussing standard publishing versus idie publishing with one of these wannabes. See I'm actually quite altruistic in nature. I'll share my experiences with anyone who listens...like this blog.

She asked me, so why do I want to try and go with a standard publisher. Now, I've got experience with both...the great, good, bad and the ugly.

I know standard publishing is a benchmark most authors strive for. The Big 6 of standard publishing has made a mint of doing things their way for a hundred years or more. So it has become the norm. Why go with standard publishing as a wannabe breakout novelist....I had to pause and think, because I chose not to, but here's my answer.

1) There is a recognizable stature that comes with being a published author with standard publishing. No, more than likely you will not have a PR team who will be working hard to promote your book. Now see if this makes sense to you on the standard publisher's thinking...you have to be famous to get famous. In other words, their money too precious to spend on new authors who may not make them serious money. It's called Return on Investment (ROI). By being published by the big houses, you have bragging rights and creditability. You will be reviewed by the cream of the crop, have blurbs by these famous established authors on your cover, you will be in chain book seller catalogs, which the brick and mortars may or may not buy for their stores. Standard publishers are a BUSINESS and the goal of all businesses is limit expenses and make a profit.

2) You get almost instant money when the contract is signed. Yes, you will get advanced royalties. It's paid in thirds. One third at signing, one third on finishing the manuscript to their standards, and the last third when published about 18 months or more later on. Mostly when wanna-be authors read about royalties, it's the big bucks they hear of and see $$$ signs. So-and-so signed a contract for $1 million. The press really doesn't advertise how many authors get advanced royalties between $1,000 to $5,000 which is pretty much standard...it just isn't newsworthy. It's less glamorous, isn't it?

Another reality check...How long did it take you to write your book? How long did it take you to find an agent? How long did it take for that agent to sell the book? When you divide the time over the advanced royalty...it looks a whole lot less glamorous from a money standpoint.  So don't quit your day job. But still there is the stature of being traditionally published.

3) As far as I know, The New York Times does not have a Best-Selling Indie section on their best seller list, although they do have e-books now. But with being standard published, you do have your shot. It is honestly better to play the lottery even if you write a dynamite book as a first time author. On average most best sellers have five to ten books to their credit before being "known." So keep writing!

Becoming known is the hardest part of being a published author whether it's in standard publishing or indie. Readers have to find you, like your writing, and buy you. Yes, I'm talking about your book not the sleazy stuff. Your book is the product you are selling, but YOU, as the wannabe, are the brand name associated with the product.And there is the stature of being a traditionally published author.

4) Several standard published authors of late have jumped on the indie author bandwagon. I read their blogs and realize...the money their are making is BECAUSE they made it as standard published authors prior to becoming indie authors. There are also a few cases, you may have seen it in the news,  of indie authors signing contracts with the Big 6 standard publishing houses.Why the switch if they have worked hard establishing their brand and product? They are hedging their bets. It is honestly easier with the standard publishing route. Yes, you still wear some hats, but many get taken over by the house. It allows you more time to write AND build a bigger brand. With standard publishing your manuscript will pass through a dozen hands or more to make it beautiful, the words exactly how they should be (sometimes typos do happen), and you lose over all control over your manuscript. It becomes the property of the publisher, but you have the bragging rights and stature of being a traditionally published author.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of standard publishing.
Now that being said, I won't be writing a blog tomorrow. My 20th wedding anniversary. :)

Keep writing and loving the Lord.

2 comments:

Zan Marie said...

Happy anniversary!

You make the case for both as an option and that's the truth we all must remember. There are choices for writers to make and each has rewards and risks involved. For the moment, I'm just trying to write the best book I can. The rest can wait, no matter which route I take in the long run.

J.L. Murphey said...

Thanks Zan Marie!