Tuesday, February 16, 2016

what does a publisher pay for?

I currently have four full requests out with agents for the manuscript I'm querying, but I've decided that if those fall though, I'd like to move forward and self-publish it (for personal reasons, I'm eager to have it in the hands of readers--I don't feel the same about any of my other work, to be certain).

I wanted to try querying this book first because I do want a traditional publishing career--or, more accurately, I'd like to be a hybrid author, as I plan on self-publishing the next in a series of interconnecting novellas in the fall. However, traditional publishing to me would mean increased readership, greater credibility, and financial support for publishing, the latter of which is unfortunately necessary at the moment.

Which brings me to my question. I was also under the impression that traditional publishers would offer various support to their authors like marketing, publicity, etc (though I know not to the extent of the heavy-hitters like Stephen King and Suzanne Collins).

Financially-speaking, what does this mean for the authors?

When I was self-publishing my first book, I knew those expenses would fall to me, including website design, professional photos, and marketing campaign materials (plus cover design, editing, formatting which I know publishers handle in-house). Am I right to assume from your post(s) that publishers won't pay for the above and that they expect authors to finance these things out of their advance or own pocket?

Financially-speaking, I feel a little like I'm caught between a rock and a hard place no matter which method of publishing I end up choosing for this book.

Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated, as always.

Generally speaking, trade publishers pay for expenses related to the book; you'll pay for expenses related to the author.  In self-publishing, you pay for everything.

A trade publisher will also be paying for things that you as a self-publisher won't be including:

1. Materials for their sales force to talk about your books to their accounts: B&N, Amazon, other chain or big box stores, indie stores.

2. Material to be used in the sales catalog that will be distributed to libraries and other institutional sales outlets.

3. Sending review copies to places that won't consider self-published books

4. Printing and warehousing your book and shipping it to stores in bulk quantities.

If you work with a trade publisher they will pay all the book production costs: design, layout, printing.

They will not pay for author photos or website design.

Think of it this way: if you elect to self-publish, you're starting a company, and you'll pay for everything.

If you elect to publish with a trade publisher, you're starting a job, and you'll pay for things you need that the company doesn't provide.

In both instances you'll have to cough up some cash; if you go with a trade house, hopefully that advance money will cover it.


Lucie Witt said...

This is interesting, and I am pleased costs are divided about how I would expect.

If any of y'all need head shots, ask your photographer if she is willing to take some additional shots that might work for your website in general. Mine did, and I was very happy with the results and able to use the extra shots to create an image header. I think it turned out pretty well.

Hybrid publishing is interesting. When established authors write novellas and self pup connected to their published works, or put free short stories on their websites, I always wonder if they have to get publisher permission or run it through their agent? (Tiffany Reisz is an example - she has an eight book series but puts free stories on her blog that generally take place between books).

nightsmusic said...

I've thought about self-publishing if my WIP's don't find representation. You never know. Look at Amanda Hocking. However, I'm also realistic enough to know that for me, self-publishing would mean I'd be 'published' but chances of making a living at it would be nil. With traditional publishing, your chances are much greater though there's never a guarantee with that either. But at least financially, you don't go down in flames alone and the premise is the publisher will help you not do that. They can't make people buy your book, but they can help make it a whole lot easier to find!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh my.
It’s hard enough to write, edit, write, edit, infinitum.
It’s hard enough to query, wait, query, wait.
It’s hard to be your own boss, (been there), mine is an ass.
Makes me want to cast on, knit one, pearl one and cast off.
So much to consider. I think today, I’ll do what I want to do, write.
The words are there. All you have to do is find them, put them in the right order and sell.
Don’t worry, we will all eventually find our title pages.
Have a nice day guys.

Anonymous said...

I am software engineer, but I love to tell stories. I am the Game Master for my role playing game group and so I love to write fantasy game campaigns. I wrote an entire 110,000 word novel during nano-wrimo and I'm still writing more because the world I built is amazing.(To me and my friends anyway.) But I have no prior educational focus for literary arts. So my grammar sucks and I have issues like giving the reader to much of what they want and not building good enough tension, although people say my characters make them laugh. Should I give up the trade publishing route because I am not a traditional author, Or should I keep trying?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Self-publishing isn't for me. I already have a day job. I could not devote the energy it would take to do this well. This blog has kept me a bit ahead of the eight ball for traditional publishing- web presence, editing, querying, etc - thank you, Your Majesty. So I will keep swimming upstream until I get an agent to guide me through the realm of traditional publishers.
I will let my agent guide me on what I must do and what publisher will do.

I have seen that some publishers, even a couple big ones like Tor/Forge, are open to unagented submissions. I would not do this myself, but what happens with the author that splits the difference and goes to a traditional publisher directly without an agent? Can they get an agent with publishing deal in hand or do agents become wary of these writers? Does publisher treat them differently than a writer with an agent. What if their sales are middling or low? Does that hurt their chances of future representation or publication? Do they really save anything financially by going it alone? I imagine they really don't. But I could be wrong.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Jason, what an amazing accomplishment. Janet mentioned that things like grammar and usage can be fixed. If you have a good story, you are half way there. Find yourself an editor- it doesn't have to be a professional one early on- maybe just an English major that likes fantasy. Someone you respect who won't candy coat things. If you have a good story, there are resources available to help you clean it up. Workshop your story. There is a fantastic online workshop for fantasy writers. It is cheap and immensely helpful. (http://SFF.onlinewritingworkshop.com)

You can definitely go traditional if you want, Jason. There are tons of great writers out there, but none of them are born that way. It takes practice like anything else. I am among those wo believes everyone has at least one great novel in them. However, only a few ever finish writing that book so you are one up there. And stick around the reef. This is a great resource for chumming the waters for a writing career.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Jason, you said, "Or should I keep trying?"

Yes, always.

Hey E.M. Jason's been swimming these waters. Check out his blog post. Ditty, Diddy took out a lot of us.

BTW Jason, love the sunglasses.

Okay, I'm back to writing. Got a deadline, ugh.

Colin Smith said...

Jason: I was going to suggest something along the lines of what EM said, but she already said it, so I won't. But I WILL encourage you to work on your writing. If you want to grow and develop this world you've created, and you would like to see your work in print, maybe as a series, then take time to improve. If you've been reading this blog for more than a year, you've seen plenty of great "craft" titles thrown around (e.g., Stephen King's ON WRITING--yeah, that's my go-to; it's so good, though!). Buy them. Read them. Study them. Perhaps take some writing courses, if you think that will help. If you plan to publish your work, whether trad or self, you want your work to be the best it can be. And I can't stress this enough, especially if you decide to self-pub. Sure, if you're putting your novel out there yourself, you can cut corners, not get it professionally edited, not work on plot, structure, crafting sentences that sing, etc. And I'm sure there are plenty of self-pubbed books out there that are horrendous to read, but still find an audience and do well. However, they don't do the integrity of the author any good, and they don't help those excellent writers who are self-pubbing and trying to promote their work in an industry where self-pubbing is still looked down on somewhat.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Jason - believe it or not, your story is not that unique for fantasy. I have a degree in geology, and I write fantasy. Much more famously, Steven Erickson is an archeologist/anthropologist whose most famous work - the Malazan series - started as a tabletop role-playing game. So traditional publishing is definitely a possibility.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Ooh, Carolynn- you are so right. Jason has some damn cool shades. And that diddy contest did do me in.

Colin Smith said...

Bethany: A degree in geology? Wow! You rock! ;)

(Sorry, couldn't resist...)

DLM said...

Jason, the one question I'd have would be how much of this is your creation ... is anything you've written about a copyrighted part of an overarching game world? It sounds like this is pretty much yours, but if what you've written sprang from the basis of a universe that existed before you populated it with your characters you'll want to look very carefully indeed into intellectual ownership issues.

While it's true grammar and usage can be fixed, you want them spit-polished and perfect before ever querying. A compelling story MAY forgive typos or poor usage, but it's just as possible that the day your query is opened by Agent Awesome, they'll be looking for reasons to eliminate, and that pesky "teh" instead of "the" at the top of your query might lead to deletion before the pages have a chance to grab them.

EMG, I'm with you; a VERY good friend is self published, and I've seen the energy she devotes to supporting it. And the time she puts into her church, her job, her hobbies, her pets, her friends - oh yeah, and her writing. The tech savvy alone is beyond my comprehension. I would not be able to do it.

2Ns made me look at Jason's pic. I am reminded of that complete paragon of OSUM, Joe Cool.

Anonymous said...

E.M. Thanks for the strong words of encouragement and for the helpful resources. I will definitely check them out. After being posted on the Query Shark, it can be kind of daunting to pick up the pieces of your fish gutted query and fix it. Also by fixing the query I am learning that there is a reason why Janet says let it sit for a week revise and then do it again. I have already kicked myself for sending such a bad query to her in the first place and then another on top of that and another. I do have a critique group of writers who give me advice and tell me I should be reading other peoples stories the thespian in me can't help but do voices. I just worry I am not good enough at written conveyance as I should be. I will revise and definitely look at the resources you mentioned I feel I can use all the help I can get. Thanks again for being so awesome!

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Colin: I've heard (and said!) 'em all. My two favorites:

Don't take schist for granite.

A plateau is the highest form of flattery.

Jason: An add-on to what I already said:
So my grammar sucks and I have issues like giving the reader to much of what they want and not building good enough tension, although people say my characters make them laugh. Should I give up the trade publishing route because I am not a traditional author, Or should I keep trying?

If the problem is that you haven't quite mastered grammar or tension yet (welcome to the club! :D), then you're no more prepared for self-publishing than traditional publishing. A story is a story is a story - if it's good, you can go either route, though one may fit your story better than the other. If it still needs work, neither route is appropriate yet. And if it's a 110,000 novel written last November, I can almost guarantee you'll need some more editing. Colin gave some great advice.

Another option is to spend some time writing on an online forum, such as Archive of our Own or another fanfiction site (there are plenty of original stories on those sites). You can't publish anything you write, but you can get instantaneous feedback and work on your writing at the same time. I've spent hundred of hours on those sites, especially when I was first learning. :)

Either way - good luck on this crazy ride!

DLM said...

Jason, you have come to a GREAT place to foster both your knowledge and spirits. And a superb place for smart remarks.

So clearly your instincts are good.

Now the question is, can you brave the lima beans and kale discussions?

Anonymous said...

O my darlin'! You guys are so awesome. This community is making me flush with joy! My mirror is looking at me like "Why you so happy all of sudden. Get back to bein' sullen so I can look better than you." Sorry my mirror goads me from time to time when it thinks I've one-upped it somehow.

You guys rock! Thanks for all the advice. And to DLM my world is definitely my own. The premise is absolutely original. Also to Bethany totally understand your point. There is nothing new under the sun for sure. One thing I will say about my book(s) is that the races in my world have never been done before. I have scoured the internet and the card catalog for fantasy that depicts a race of characters like mine and have found none. It is my belief that my world will cause some market disruption simply because of its cohesive uniqueness.

Should I tell you what they are and how they came to be?

Anonymous said...

DLM haha yes thanks! Oh you mean the Kale and Spinach I put in the blender this morning?

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

You know, I don't know where I thought author photos came from. I think I assumed the publisher did take care of that. But then, thinking about it, many of Stephen King's author photos are credited to his wife.

Jason: absolutely keep trying! And, I'm sorry to suggest...maybe read up on grammar? Or, if you don't want to read grammar manuals (I know I don't), read lots of books and widely and allow the correct usages to seep into your brain that way. I mean, I know writers break rules all the time, but if you educate yourself on the written word with the written word, you'll be able to be coherent, anyway!

My fiancé is our group's main Storyteller/DM (Depending on the system we're running), and his degree is in Art! Our housemate also runs games, with a geology degree under his belt. Different non fiction interests make for interesting differences in storytelling setups.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer you are so right about that. Yes I have heard the advice about reading other authors and genres to get a broader sense of the written word. It brings me back to my childhood. I was a heavy reader as a kid. I read all the time and everything and I loved biographies. I just loved to read. Now I am more into audio books so I have to force myself to take the time to actually physically read a book so that I can discern the differences in syntax, between what I write and what these other book present. I am also trying my hand at flash fiction to help refine my sentence writing with verbs that paint a showing picture rather than a telling one.

Again thanks for all the help ya'll!!

Colin Smith said...

If I might make a passing reference to the topic...

I'd be interested to hear from some self-pubbers on this. I know (I've read blogs) there are self-pubbers out there who are very devoted to self-pubbing, and who might have a different view on what trad publishing does for the author as opposed to self-pubbing. I'm not trying to stir trouble, but I think it would be interesting to get a response from the self-pubbing side.

And all this talk of pubbing is making me thirsty. Too early for a Newkie Brown? Or Blue Moon. That sounds such an unmanly name for a beer, but I like it. But I digress. Often.


Anonymous said...

Colin I believe if you factor in the suns position over the other half of the earth, you may find that its happy hour in Madagascar right now. :-) Have one for me :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Pic Comments that picture was taken in Jax Beach in Florida a friend of mine was testing out his new camera and well hey I like getting my picture taken so why not :-) I went surfing after. Never surf in a suit by the way it will rip when you pop up every time!

Donnaeve said...

Okay, ya'll made me click. Yeah Jason, definitely cool pic there. Hey you already have your author photo! I would also say, aside from the great advice already given, NO WAY do you stop now! Are you kidding me? But, here's the real test.

Do this. Tell yourself you're going to quit writing. Tell yourself you're going to trunk this 110K novel you've written, and just move on to something else altogether. How does that make you feel? Are you thinking, no way I can do that? Or are you thinking, meh, I could do that? Because that's your answer.

Author photo - Paid for mine, of course, but I didn't have one done until I had a book deal. It was like a reward to myself, sort of like those running t-shirts you get in a road race. I wouldn't allow myself to have the photo until I had a contract. Yeah, okay, WEIRD, but that's me. I also won't wear a race shirt unless I ran the race, so I come by it honestly. I am a self-conscious sort, and my discomfort at having my photo's taken that day showed up A LOT. I think she took about 75 various shots and I found ONE I liked. It's the one ya'll have seen, and it's one of the few where I didn't look pissed. LOL!

Website will be overhauled sometime this year. Whether the blog stays or not remains to be seen...I'm on the fence with it.

Anywho, I like seeing all this laid out b/c the learning never ends.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

So, Bethany, any good jokes about orogenous zones?

Colin Smith said...

Donna: I'm with you on the author pic. To me (and I stress, TO ME--I know others feel differently) it seems a bit presumptuous to have something as "official" as an author photo when you don't have a published novel. I feel the same way about "author" websites, and Goodreads and Facebook accounts. When I get that book deal, then we'll talk about my public "author" persona. Of course, having some advance money to help pay for the picture and the website re-vamp wouldn't hurt, either... :)

Anonymous said...

Hahahahahaha. That's so funny I took that picture 5 years ago to put on my DJ cards when I was a Karaoke DJ, for advertising. Lol. I just use it as my author photo cause well, I still look like that lol. So maybe when I do finally make it ill get one done by the pros and see how it comes out. You guys once again are awesome!!!

nightsmusic said...

I have decided to query La Sharque in order to get a rejection letter I can hang on my wall and treasure because, Sharque!

As to the author photo, I hope when I'm published, all of my readers understand that yes, Dobermans are smart and if they had opposable thumbs, could take over the world because that's what my author photo looks like.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I'm back. Got my column in on time.

This whole process takes so long, I'm just hoping my author-photo won't be a picture of a head stone or an urn of ashes.

Well that's depressing as hell.

Lucie Witt said...

Now I'm wondering what superstitions us woodland creatures are harboring? Are we as bad as athletes? I used to have Donnaeve and Colins headshot hangup, but once I started submitting some of my nonfiction stuff I had some done. I don't want to be asked for one and scrambling.

Colin Smith said...

Is a headshot something you would have to scramble for? Should I expect my agent (hypothetically) to call me up and say, "Great news! Penguin has bought your novel. The advance is $3.5 million. But they want a headshot in an hour."? Give me a week or two after that call and I should be able to get one. I wouldn't call that "scrambling."

Anonymous said...

Lol How did this convo get derailed lol. I should never have put that head shot of me in sunglasses up lol.

Donnaeve said...

2Ns. It's clear why you have a column. If you pop up at random with the same sort of witticisms on Enough Said as you do here, they ought to stretch that syndication beyond 8 newspapers! OMG. Laughing so hard at that. And that's how you do - you pop up, sort of like those little mole heads on whack-a-mole, toss out a funny, and poof, disappear.

Lucie - yeah, makes sense. What I did in the interim was edit a family photo I liked. To be honest, the one I used to use made me look younger and I almost wish I could go back to that. Hey, maybe the next book, right?

Donnaeve said...

Jason, welcome to Reiderville. That's how we roll. (which sounds cheesy nowadays, but I like cheese, so it's all good) We love to derail on the Queen's blog, although we're about 25% on topic. She did mention headshots. :)

Craig F said...

Yes this thing has turned into a runaway train. Maybe I can stoke the fires a bit.

TOR does indeed have a a cadre of sci-fi people who are not agented. Their biggest luminaries are space opera and military sci-fi. Sounds like a Game Master would fit it. David Weber and John Ringo are two of their biggest writers. Might be worth some research time.

As we saw last week if you can get the magic on a page it doesn't matter if the Literati like it. As a software designer you should be able to work a scene in logical progression. Just make the magic work. There are editors to clean things up.

It doesn't matter if you are a member of the Literati or a Grammar Nazi, all books have a grammar pothole or two. Also the market for Literary novels is smaller than the mass or trade markets. They might corner you like a herd of internet bullies but you can laugh all the way to the bank.

Anonymous said...

The best headshot I ever saw was when a friend played a shooting game using the bongos from a completely different game. The controls didn't map perfectly, but you could tap the bongos to move and use the clap sensor to shoot.

So he's sneaking around the enemy base, comes up behind a guy, and shouts "Surprise, cock-face!"
The clap sesor picks it up and boom! Perfect headshot.

Oh, sorry. Wrong headshot.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

What is this headshot thing? I don't wish to be shot in the head anymore than I want photos taken of me. I just want people to read my book. Lots of people. Why is this so hard? Am I asking too much? Does it matter what I look like (pug in glasses)? Does anyone really care? Why do I use the words really and just so much? What is wrong with me? (Hypothetical- don't answer that one)

So what were we talking about?

Anonymous said...

The reason you use the words really and not so much are ...( Oh Don't answer that one.) lol

Yeah I love magic, but the kind that comes from natural sources, forcing a balance of all things. Too much of a good thing ... if you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

Oh and Craig I like cheese too! Especially 80's cheese that's the best kind!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Oh Donna, you are too kind.

That’s me, whack-a-mole.

I'd love to be syndicated. Any takers? Raise hands.

Go ahead, remove your fingers from the keyboard for a moment, look up from your cell phones and tablets, set your coffee down, stop scratching, me shouting:


Ah jeez, that's what I thought.

I'm going back in my hole.

Janet Reid said...

Ok guys, we're getting out of control here.
A quick reminder: posts should be limited to three a day, and fewer
than a hundred words each.

I love the community here, and the support you give each other, but somebody has to read every single one of these comments for the week in review and she has very sharp teeth.

Lucie Witt said...

Colin: I've been submitting some stuff to online pubs with a very short turn around after acceptance. For traditional publishing, hard to imagine a scramble situation.

Cheryl said...

Nightsmusic: My very first rejection letter was from Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. It really do treasure that piece of paper.

Anonymous said...

Welcome, Jason. Everything's already been said. You don't need a literary degree to write, but you should learn the basics of grammar. It's the foundation of your story.

I agree with Carolynn about the author photos.

I'm thinking something like this. Here lies Julie Weathers indented correctly.

Lennon Faris said...

I once read that a common, modest average of a debut author's novel might be around $5K. Once you factor in the agent's portion and taxes, you are left with about enough to really make a nice, professional website and a couple other promotion-related things. The bad news is, you don't really have much left over. The good news is, it didn't come out of your pocket! And if you're really lucky/ that talented, you might earn some on royalties.

Carolynnwith2N's - I have to agree with Donnaeve. Sometimes when time doesn't permit or I'm late to the comments, I have to skim through what other Reiders are saying. But when I get to yours I always read every word. Sometimes (*always**cough*) random, but never, ever disappointing!

Colin - I originally made an author / book website. Then I realized it really did feel presumptuous. I changed it to just be a website on related things like blog (with contact ability, of course per Janet). I mention that I am writing / querying, but the majority of the site is based on what I am qualified to talk about now, i.e. being a reader. I figure if (I mean, when) I do get published, it can transition as needed.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Julie M, hahahaha, love the link.

Okay, I heard the brakes screech at 11:21, but because I am already way over my comment limit, especially the OT ones, and because I am as ensconced in Carkoon as Trump is in baboonery, (it’s a real word), I would like to suggest to the sharp-toothed one, a contest: writer-epitaphs in ten words or less. Sort of flash fiction for dead writers. Posthumous-posts, if you will.
OMG this is really going to get me in trouble.

The prompt, not to be included in the word count,
Here lies…..

I’m not suggesting to do this now, OR EVER, just throwing it through the fan. What say ye?
If I don’t get deleted I am at least banished forever.

Susan said...

I just want to say thank you to Janet for posting my question and answering it so fully.

A few months ago, when I was still in the querying stages, I began to think about my options and thought the financial factor might influence my decision more towards one path than the other. There wasn't a clear answer--there still isn't, as there are benefits to both, some of which she lays out above (and having been down the self-publishing road before and being happy with that decision, I know the rest).

But life circumstances have forced me to re-evaluate, well, my life. And my future. And my dreams. It forced me to remember why I write and why I want to share those stories: to make people think and feel and, with this story in particular, to help people in similar circumstances not feel so alone.

Janet was gracious enough to listen to my story, and then she told me something that I don't think I'll ever forget (and dammit if I can't stop crying just thinking about it--I hope you don't mind me sharing it here, Janet). She told me that there are people who are going to need this book--that for some, it will be a light in the dark. That's all I've ever really wanted.

Practically speaking, I know there's a market for this story; more than that (and ego aside, truly), there's a need for it because the circumstances surrounding it are just starting to come to light. But convincing a publisher would be harder and, frankly, I'm not willing to wait. I've already been through the set-up with my first book, so a lot of those expenses are out of the way. In my case, financially-speaking, at least, it seems pretty evenly matched.

But it's also about way more than that for me. I've had to rearrange my dreams a lot the past few years--I've had to let some of that ambition go. But the core dream itself has always remained the same. Hopefully, someday, I'll be able to pursue a more traditional route again because I do want that credibility and audience (and having a financial cushion would be nice). But right now, especially with this book, I'm grateful that there's more than one path.

Anonymous said...


I didn't address the original question as it had been pretty thoroughly addressed. If you feel this is the way to go, just research your options carefully and don't look back.

Good luck to you. I wish you much success.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Susan, I wish you every success and I apologize for going so off the rails today.
Though you may have rearranged your dreams do not give up on them. Dreams are currency, my dear, more valuable than gold.

DeadSpiderEye said...

It was a real let down when I discovered that publishers wont pay for the booze and the prostitutes on a the book signing tour. Flippin' 'eck, explaining that, back massage on the credit card bill to the misses, is going to test my narrative skills to the limit.

John Frain said...

Good luck whatever route you take. And whichever route you eventually go, please keep us updated here. Your explanation certainly makes me curious about the book, and I'd be interested in finding out more.

Anyone remember when the Richard Bachman books came out before Stephen King was exposed? I don't remember the details, frankly, maybe the connection was intentional. Regardless, I remember the jacket cover for Desperation (I think) showing a picture of a messy desk with an empty chair where the author typically would be sitting.

So there's that option if you don't want to pay for, or appear in, your author photo.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm clogging the airways, but Kristin Nelson's newsletter had something in it that might be of interest to all of you.

RachelErin said...

This is from a few years ago, but I think it describes what you need for an author photo well.

It shouldn't cost more than a few hundred dollars, even with a pro.You don't need actual 8 X 10 portraits like actors do, which helps.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...


I wasn't going to comment today. I've decided I'd rather read books rather than write them. But knowing it's you who posted this question makes tears roll. I read your book. You have the strongest voice I've ever read and a message that is SO needed.

I look forward to buying your self published book and I know others who would love to read it to understand what happened to them. I think your decision to self publish this work is good. In your case, I know you can find an agent to rep you, even after you self publish this work.

Your voice is AMAZING!

Janet's advice about self publishing equals creating a business is true. You may need to find people who can help with publicity and blogging and creating a brand.

Off topic, Jeff Somers has the best author photo, ever.

AJ Blythe said...

Too many comments to read through today. Everything's probably been covered so I'll just say JR's comment

Think of it this way: if you elect to self-publish, you're starting a company, and you'll pay for everything.

If you elect to publish with a trade publisher, you're starting a job, and you'll pay for things you need that the company doesn't provide.

is another of the many reasons I want a publisher. I don't want to start a company and I don't have the time needed to dedicate to one.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Colin said: it seems a bit presumptuous to have something as "official" as an author photo when you don't have a published novel.

I disagree. At what point do we start being a professional author? It happens long before our first book rolls off the press.

Looking and behaving like a professional author is best started before your book comes out, especially if you wish to be in the game for the long run. By having a web site, by having an official author shot (and I mean a nice one, not some amateurish happy snap), you are taking your career seriously. You are showing others and you are showing yourself that you are Serioz Author Person and it's only a matter of time until your next book comes out, even if your next book is the first.

If you want to be a professional author eventually, start being a professional author now. It's all about the attitude, not the print run.

nightsmusic said...

Heidi, I agree with this completely (sorry, Colin.) I've known 'professional' authors, those not yet published, who stated things prior to and those things came back to bite them in the arse. If it's on the net, it's there for life. So if you want to be considered professional, it has to start with your first written word. Because you just never know...

(Oh NOES! I used the word...just!) hehe

nightsmusic said...

Okay, this is my fourth comment, but I hit the submit button too soon...

My younger daughter was an individual figure skater for 10 years. She took lessons from an Olympic medalist. On the ice, she was expected to be dressed professionally, hair bunned, practice dress on, boots bright white, gloves clean...the theory is/was, if you look like a true skater when you're practicing, you'll become that same true skater when you're competing. And they were right. It didn't take long for their students to become those hard working, mature skaters off the ice as well.

If you want to be a professional author, be one when no one is looking as well as when they are.

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

And to bring things back to the original topic: I'm currently a midlist small press author. I love my publisher because they have helped me to consistently bring out a professional-quality product. But they are not my employer and they don't own my work or my brand. They have contracted certain rights (which I own) to help me bring out that product.

Marketing and promo is so much more than just the one book. It's about all the books and my entire career. I do not intend on remaining exclusively with my small press. I intend on having works published with some Random Penguin and some works coming out indie.

This is so much bigger than my lovely and reputable small press publisher. While they will help foot the bill for creating quality product, naturally they don't see any reason for footing the bill for a brand they don't own. That's my job.

Ultimately, I am in charge of my author brand. I am in charge of my career. That means the charges of creating and promoting that brand, and not just a single book, ultimately falls to me.

When it comes to the division of costs, ask if the costs cover just the book, or do they cover the long-term career.

Colin Smith said...

Heidi: There is, of course, the very practical consideration that if I go ahead and spend money for a professional head-shot now, I may not actually need it for another 2, 3, 5, 10 years. By which time, I'll need another. This is publishing, where snails and molasses race. I'm sure it won't matter if I wait until I have a book deal before I hire the services of a photographer.

My desire not to be presumptuous is not born out of self-deprecation. I'm a writer, I'll own that fact. When I'm published, I'll be a published author. By keeping the cart and the horse in their respective positions, I know where I am and what I'm aiming for. I look forward to the day I'll need that head-shot, and it's my goal to get there ASAP. :)

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and to follow up on your comment, NM, when I blog, or comment, or do anything publicly, I am very aware of how those things might be perceived later when I have a publishing deal and what I say (and have said) will matter to more than just a handful of friends. That's why you'll find no political rants on my blog, nor in my Twitter feed. And while I make no secret of my theological convictions, I try hard not to be a jerk about them. :)

Susan said...

Julie, Carolynn, John: I appreciate all the good thoughts and wish the same for you. I'll still be sticking around here--I value the knowledge and community too much--and I'll be happily cheering everyone on.

John: I'm not comfortable linking it, but you can check out a sneak peek of the book and my own story, which it's based on, over on my website. I also tweet pretty regularly about the subject--education and awareness is one of my goals.

Angie: I don't even know what to say, you've left me speechless. This is so heartwarming--you've been such a great support--and I can't thank you enough. While I understand your reasons for setting your writing aside, I hope it's only temporary. You've got so many stories to tell and me, eagerly awaiting your book ;)

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...


I see absolutely no reason why you couldn't go indie and not bring out what sounds like a great book. You've got the first most important thing when it comes to launching something great--an unwavering belief in its greatness.

Great indie books can be brought out with minimal costs if one is clever. Your existing network might be able to help you source those necessary requirements for a minimal cost. Also, it won't hurt to expand your network and start talking with those who have been successful. Indie authors love to share their tips and tricks.

Keeping costs down:
*Do you have a few crit partners who are happy to exchange copy edits?
*Could you source a good cover artist on Fivrr?
*Do you read blogs and indie publishing newsletters?
*Have you developed a marketing and promo plan?
*Are you willing to launch your book for free for the first week or so to garner downloads and reviews that will help push your book when you raise the price back to normal?
*Do you know which promo sites will list books for free?

The whole indie publishing revolution happened because a few people not only wanted to go indie, but they also wanted to help others go indie. Tap into this network and you may find it possible to bring out an excellent book to great success for minimal costs.

Also, does your local arts commission offer grants? Never hurts to pitch for a grant.

Theresa said...

For me, having a publisher is the only way to go, both personally and professionally. As an academic, I'm expected to publish, and publish with a recognized press. And personally, I don't have the imagination to handle all of the marketing and promotion to get a book out there on my own. Oxford handled the publicity and marketing for my latest book, and I've been responsible for my own website and for contributing to publicity efforts.

I hate having my picture taken. I feel stupid doing anything when someone has a camera near me. (Think Chandler on the episode of "Friends" when he and Monica have their engagement photo taken.) I still haven't resolved the author photo issue. I sent in two options for my book jacket. Book jacket contains no author photo. Yikes.

Susan said...

Heidi: Great tips! I'm lucky in that I have a lot of this in place from when I published my first book, so costs will be mainly cover design, internal formatting, and initial print run. It's still a good bit of money, so I'll have to work that out (Fiverr is a great idea I hadn't thought of, as are the grants!).

Self-publishing is a ton of work--it's good work, and I loved every bit of it when I did it, but I'd forgotten how MUCH work. Truthfully, I don't have the same energy I did a few years ago, so I'm hoping to hire out for the majority of the work and make this more of a grassroots marketing campaign. I'm grateful in that I have a great local writing community who have been willing to help me out with some of the publication work and a larger community (based on the subject matter) that's willing to help spread the word. I think my expectations for this one is to create a quality book (because I can't imagine putting out anything less) and to get it in the hands of people who it could help.

You're so right about the indie community (although the same can be said for this community)--it's full of so many gracious and supportive people, including yourself! I'm bookmarking this post to review your tips when the time comes. Thank you!!

Donnaeve said...

Didn't read all the comments, but Susan, you know I'm rooting for you no matter which way you go!

And this makes my fourth/over the limit comment, but on the topic of head shots...it's like what Colin said. The choice not to do a professional photo isn't about not being professional, but about not spending the $$'s until it's a real necessity. I had a very nice head shot photo up until I needed the bonafide formal one, and I gladly paid the money then.

I treated it as a celebratory step forward.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Susan, you must tell your story. It is needed because of the unconscionable way people have had to fight your fight.
BTW, your writing is superb.

Anonymous said...

Susan, I don't really have anything helpful to add. But I do want to encourage you in the effort to get this book into the hands of readers. How to go about doing that is such a personal choice and since you've self-pubbed already you know what's involved in that process. So that's a big plus in your favour.

The financial thing is tough. I'm sure you know self-publishing is not a get-rich-quick kind of thing. Or even a get-rich-AT-ALL kind of thing (not in the short term, anyway). But neither is traditional publishing. I hope you can find a way to at least break even on initial expense, but more important, I hope you find readers who will be helped and comforted by your story. That has worth that can't be measured.

Megan V said...

Susan— It's all been said, but I have to add my warm wishes for your future, whatever you decide.

Angie—I hope you still write, even if you just do it for yourself. Sometimes you're the person who needs your words, your stories, the most.

As for the, slightly off topic, author photos...I wonder, do trad pubs accept pictures of chum?

Panda in Chief said...

Susan, I want to join everyone else in cheering you on.
Have you considered the book crowdfunding site Inkshares? It's a little like Kickstarter, in that you are drumming up support before publishing the book, which is marketing in advance of publication.
But there is a big difference between Inkshares and. Kickstarter. With Kickstarter,you figure out how much money you need and then once you have that cash in hand, you have to put all the pieces in place, but also all the responsiblity for finding sources for cover design, editing, printing, shipping, etc.
at Inkshares, they are acting as a publisher, have editors, marketers, and cover/book designers as part of their staff. Last time. I looked, many of the people at. Inkshares have worked in publishing at some recognizable publishers. They have figured out how many books you would need to pre-sell depending on the format you want to publish whether it be hard cover, paper back or ebook. If you can presell that number of books, they will publish. Your royalties start with any books sold beyond that initial presale threshold.
The good news is that if you don't make your presale numbers, you've already done most of the work to publish, plus generated interest in the book, just as if you were starting to self publish from scratch.

Obviously you would not take this route first if you were seeking an agent or trad pub deal, but if you seek an agent with no offers of representation, again, you are ahead of the game at Inkshares.

If anyone has had experience working with these folks, I would sure like to hear from you. I am considering this route for a project I am working on with another person.

Susan said...

Thank you, everyone, for your support! I'm cheering each of you on!

Panda: I ran a successful Kickstarter for my first book, so I can't in good conscience do that again, especially considering that friends and family have continued to support me in other ways throughout these years. But I've never heard of Inkshares. I'm a little bit leery of working with an outside company, but I'll look into them. Thanks for the heads-up!

Unknown said...

Dear Janet,

This is another helpful post, especially for those of us who are unpublished so we know what to expect. I am very happy to say I have a web guy & a photographer standing by. I was worried that, if I get published I wouldn't be allowed to use these friends for this and they're good. Also, I want to pay them and will use any advance money to do so.

roadkills-r-us said...

For reasons I won't go into in the interest of word count I switched from querying my first YA novel to self publishing. We had what we needed in savings; I worked with relatively unknown (for now) but extremely talented people for marketing/socmed, headshots, other photos, editing, cover & interior design, and illustrations. I then came up with an umbrella imprint for not just my own work, but anyone else's I believe in. It's nothing like a traditional publisher; it's an imprint and a way to connect authors and the other pros they need to publish absent a contract with a traditional publisher.
It's been a lot of work, and I'm just now starting to really focus on marketing, but it's a lot of work regardless of the route you choose... unless you are Tom Clancy or someone else who gets picked up out of the gate.
Susan, it sounds like you probably have what you need in place, but if you need contacts for any of teh above categories, please let me know.

roadkills-r-us said...

Janet, I'd love to hear what (if any) impact having self-published has on agents and publishers considering authors and their works.

Panda in Chief said...

just because you ran one successful Kickstarter campaign, doesn't mean your friends and family (not to mention new friends, hint hint,) wouldn't want to support another campaign. "What??? She wrote ANOTHER book? How could she do that? I mean the first one was great, but I already HAVE a book!"

New book, new project. I've run 3 Kickstarter campaigns to date, spaced out over three years. (you've done one, so you know how much work they are.) Each one was more successful than the last, with many of the supporters from previous projects supporting my new one.

Don't rule it out, okay? And make sure I know when it launches.